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Many Michigan Farms Having Difficulty Finding Seasonal Workers

December 14, 2015
Agriculture Blog Post

Michigan farms are having trouble finding seasonal workers because migrant workers are becoming more interested in permanent positions. Michigan Farm Bureau has reported that migrant workers fill about 40,000 seasonal jobs on farms but the number is decreasing as migrant workers are starting to see education and permanent jobs as necessary.

According to Capital New Service, this has led to more farmers using the H-2A work visa to fill agriculture positions. Recruitment agencies for farms bring immigrants with visas into the United States and then distribute them to jobs. They return them to their home countries after the season ends. Ruben Martinez, the director of the Julian Samora Research Institute Latino research center at Michigan State University, believes employers may see the H-2A programs as providing a more reliable stream of workers, but an anti-government and competitive business culture makes overseeing programs like it more difficult for the U.S. Department of Labor. He feels that workers go where they have consistent work and are treated well. "Deregulation and privatization has reduced the capacity of the Department of Labor to be able to monitor the H-2A program and ensure that workers being brought in are being paid fairly and provided housing and treated with respect and dignity," Martinez said. "Issues regarding immigration enforcement have created a chilly climate in which migrants are less willing to travel, particularly if they learn there are immigration raids being conducted."

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