Michigan apple growers say they hope to avoid any E-Verify requirements but still fear facing a situation similar to what happened to several of the state’s asparagus producers last spring.
Lacking sufficient workers for harvest, several growers were forced to mow their asparagus crops, resulting in the loss of about 1 million pounds of asparagus valued at $850,000, according to John Bakker, executive director of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, DeWitt. The lost production amounted to about 5% of the state’s asparagus crop, Bakker said.
Jim Bynum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, said a labor shortage is growing “progressively worse” every year.
“We don’t want illegals any more than anyone else,” Bynum said. But “we have contracts to fulfill. We need to recognize we need to use migrant labor. It’s a fact of life.”
‘The No. 1 concern of growers in Michigan is availability of labor. We need skilled workers to handle this.’