Mechanization rises with tighter farm labor

Capital News Service
LANSING – As workers at Michigan farms and orchards become more scarce, the need for mechanical harvesting is rising. Much of the produce that used to be hand-harvested is now almost completely harvested by machine, said Ken Nye, a commodity specialist for the Farm Bureau. That includes cherries and grapes. Efforts are underway to increase mechanization in harvesting, Nye said. The efforts have increased in importance in times when labor is scarce.

Conditions still challenge migrant farmworkers

Capital News Service
LANSING – They work long, grueling hours in the blistering sun. Nearly half of the 90,000 migrant laborers in the state were under the age of 13 in 2010, according to the Department of Civil Rights. And the average migrant family makes between $12,255 and $16,773 a year, according to state estimates – far below the federal poverty line of $27,570 for a family of four. But they are the backbone of the state’s agricultural industry, traveling from Florida to Michigan and back again, year after year. They are migrant workers, And Marylou Olivarez-Mason used to be one of them.