Read the full story from Fresh Plaza: “Michigan apple growers may lose millions of dollars without migrant workers”
Apples are big business in Michigan. As the state’s most valuable fruit crop, apples brought in $293 million in 2016, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Great Lakes Region. And as the season winds down, getting the crop off the trees is not easy for the migrant workers who pick them one at a time.
In the Sparta area, north of Grand Rapids, finding migrant workers to clear the orchards is getting increasingly difficult. Most of them have come from Mexico; some are undocumented.
This year, Michigan had roughly 45,000 jobs available for migrant workers, starting with bedding plants in February, vegetable and fruit season starting with asparagus and wrapping up with apples in the fall, and ending with Christmas trees in November, according to a statement from the Michigan Farm Bureau.
While better work opportunities have conspired to lured many young migrant workers away from Michigan agriculture, the Trump administration’s immigrant policies have also threatened to shrink the migrant worker pool. The days of having to turn migrant workers away are over, farmers say.