Michigan farmers struggle to fill seasonal jobs

Capital News Service
LANSING — The fall farming season in West Michigan has ended, but the future need for migrant workers remains. The Michigan Farm Bureau said migrant workers fill about 40,000 seasonal jobs on fruit and vegetable farms but the number is decreasing. Migrant workers are starting to see education and a permanent job as necessary, leading them away from temporary jobs that depend on time and place, Craig Anderson, manager of agricultural labor and safety services at the Farm Bureau said. “When you look at the jobs that agriculture has available, they’re unfortunately based on climates. Those three-to-six-week jobs are the types we are having a very difficult time filling,” Anderson said.

State boosts migrant housing inspections with new staff

Capital News Service
LANSING — A doubling of state inspectors the past two years has improved housing conditions for Michigan’s migrant workers, according to state officials and worker advocates. That is a major change from 2009, when a $3 million budget cut shrank the Department of Agriculture’s migrant housing inspection staff from seven to three inspectors. As a result the department conducted only a couple dozen in-season occupancy inspections during 2009 and 2010. But efforts have more than doubled since 2013, when the department hired four more inspectors. Since then, officials have completed about 1,800 inspections, including 389 in 2015.