Temporary seasonal workers face language, legal issues

Capital News Service
LANSING — The number of foreign seasonal farm workers pouring into Michigan and the legal and economic challenges they face are rapidly growing, say some legal and agricultural experts. The increase is the result of contractors bringing workers into the country under temporary visas called H2A visas. They are often referred to euphemistically as guest workers, said Tom Thornburg, co-managing attorney at Farmworker Legal Services, a Kalamazoo-based legal advocacy group for  agricultural workers. The number of these guest workers from other countries has doubled every year since 2012, he said. In 2015 they numbered 928.

Analysis offers free export opportunities

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan growers and processors can gain access to market research without paying thousands of dollars, thanks to a new, free export opportunity analysis. Euromonitor International and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s International Marketing Program developed the analysis. Euromonitor International provides strategic market research. “The analysis gives companies additional information of where new export opportunities are and the top export markets for their products,” said Jamie Zmitko-Somers, international marketing program manager for the department. The reports are designed to assist companies in mapping out an export strategy for 2016 and beyond by highlighting commodities, consumer trends, historic and forecasted consumption, Zmitko-Somers said.

Young farm worker rules misunderstood, Labor Department says

Capital News Service
LANSING – A proposed revision of federal regulations for young farm workers is in need of clarification, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. “Children employed in agriculture are some of the most vulnerable workers in America. Ensuring their welfare is a priority of the department, and this proposal is another element of our comprehensive approach,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. The revision aims to better regulate child labor in agriculture, including a better interpretation of the “parental exemption,” according to the department. The department said the proposed rules would not eliminate the parental exemption, created in 1966, which allows children of any age to work on even hazardous tasks on a farm owned by their parent.