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Snyder: Michigan needs more migrant farm workers

Migrant farmworkers live and work on Michigan farms during the harvest.
Craig Camp
flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
Migrant farmworkers live and work on Michgan farms during the harvest

Gov. Rick Snyder says Michigan needs to do more to attract seasonal migrant laborers to work on farms this spring and summer.

Last year, Michigan asparagus farmers lost about 2 million pounds – or 10% of their crop – because they didn’t have enough workers. Michigan competes with Texas and California for farm labor, and Gov. Snyder says there are already concerns that Michigan won’t be able to lure enough agriculture labor this year.  

“And so we want to get the word out to people, particularly in that category, to say: Please, come to Michigan. You’re welcome here.”

Michigan typically requires about 49,000 seasonal farm workers annually, and that number is expected to grow as the agriculture economy gets bigger.  

“We need to do more with migrant farm workers, legal immigrants to our country,” said Snyder. “If you listen to our agricultural industry in this state, which is one of our huge success stories, they need migrant farm help.”

The state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says the cold weather has delayed several growing seasons, which could keep much of the migrant labor force in California and Texas.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.