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Michigan farmers eyeing possible seasonal labor shortage this year

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MSU ANR Communications
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There may be snow on the ground but Michigan farmers are facing some important decisions right now about what they will grow this year.

The Michigan Farm Bureau reports that there are concerns about that there may not be enough seasonal laborers available to pick vegetable and other crops this year.    This has been a problem in the past for some asparagus and apple growers. 

Ken Nye is a commodity specialist with the farm bureau.  He says last year’s poor crop yield lead many seasonal laborers to work in other parts of the country.  Nye says those seasonal laborers may not plan on returning to Michigan this year.

“I think producers are pretty concerned about that,” says Nye, “So I’m sure they’re spending a lot of time working those issues out.”

Nye says many Michigan farmers may opt to grow crops this year that will require fewer hands to harvest.    He says some farmers may also participate in guest worker programs.  

But Nye says they only have a few weeks to make that decision.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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