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Governor Says State Needs To Recruit More Farm Labor

File photo.
courtesy of Michigan Apple Committee

Governor Rick Snyder says Michigan needs to do more to attract seasonal migrant laborers to work on farms this spring and summer.

Last year, Michigan asparagus farmers lost about 2 million pounds – or 10 percent of their crop – because they didn’t have enough workers. Michigan competes with Texas and California for farm labor, and Governor Snyder says there are already concerns that Michigan won’t be able to lure enough agriculture labor this year.

“So we want to get the word out to people, particularly in that category, to say: Please, come to Michigan. You’re welcome here,” he says.

Michigan typically requires about 49,000 seasonal farm workers annually, and that number is expected to grow as the agriculture economy gets bigger.

The governor’s immigration efforts thus far have focused largely on attracting high-tech workers and investors, but he says he will turn his attention to farm labor in the next phase of his plan.

“We need to do more with migrant farm workers, legal immigrants to our country. If you listen to our agricultural industry in this state, which is one of our huge success stories, they need migrant farm help,” he says.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.