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Northern Michigan is shaped by food. Our orchards, farms and vineyards create the landscape. A burgeoning culinary scene defines many of our downtowns. And the agriculture, tourism and hospitality industries dominate our economies.

Feds File Complaints Against Michigan Farms Over Migrant Labor Conditions

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed complaints against two Michigan farms for treating migrant workers inhumanely, including one farm in northern Manistee County.

Darryl Howes farms in Copemish is accused of underpaying workers and providing unsanitary housing and toilets.

The Department of Labor also says migrant housing at Berrybrook Farms in Dowagiac was infested with rodents and insects, and workers didn't have access to refrigerators or hot running water.

“The workers are looked at pretty much like property or commodities at a farm where the conditions are this bad,” says Director of Migrant Legal Aid, Theresa Hendricks.

She says many times, children as well as adults are being mistreated.

“It's sad to see children living in conditions that are bad and sad to see them working for sometimes as low as a couple dollars an hour, after you calculate how long they've been out in the fields,” she says.

Hendricks says it would help to have more frequent inspections of state farms.

Michigan just restored about 400-thousand dollars to the budget for such inspectors, but Hendricks says more inspectors are still needed.