Agricultural & Foreign Labor Services January News and Highlights

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

LEO Workforce Development co-branded logo

January 10, 2024

(Para una versión en español, haga clic aquí.)

Happy New Year from the Agricultural and Foreign Labor Services Team!

Highlights and Successes from Agricultural Employment Services

As we bid farewell to 2023 and embrace 2024, our hearts are filled with joy as we extend our warmest wishes for an extraordinary new year to everyone.

In addition to these heartfelt greetings, we are delighted to share with you the remarkable achievements of Agricultural and Foreign Labor Services – both recent ones and some achievements from the past year we have yet to share.

MSFW Successes

Throughout the year, our team has been dedicated to finding employment opportunities for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFWs) in both the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors.

Samuel Bernabe leaning on truck

Thanks to the team’s efforts – Agricultural Employment Liaison (AEL) Jesus Lule in particular – Samuel Bernabe, who spent his entire life working in agriculture, found a full-time year-round job with an irrigation company, serving the same growers he had worked for in the past. Samuel is thrilled about his new job and is grateful to the team for their commitment to serving MSFWs.

AEL Jesus Lule has also placed five MSFWs in long-term employment at a solar panel company in southwest Michigan and two MSFWs as recruiters with the Van Buren Intermediate School District – Migrant Education Program.

AFLS Helps Husband and Wife Graduate Together

Andres and Rosalia Paz Bautista in graduation caps

On May 20, 2023, Michigan State University (MSU) hosted its  2022-2023 GED graduation ceremony. A total of 32 participants were awarded GED certificates by MSU-HEP. Among the graduates were MSFWs Andy Olivares, Socorro Reyes, and spouses Andres and Rosalia Paz Bautista.

Initially, Andres began the program while his wife cheered him on. As he continued his education, however, Rosalia was also encouraged to pursue her own studies. Despite starting later, she was able to catch up and successfully pass her final exam just before the ceremony.

The couple were elated to celebrate their accomplishments and receive their GEDs on the same day. They hope to inspire their two children by their hard work and achievements, and to never give up on their own dreams.

The enrollment of these MSFWs into the MSU-HEP program was made possible by the efforts and referrals of AEL Jesus Lule.

Las Posadas

AFLS team at Las Posadas event

Posadas are a festive Mexican tradition observed in the nine days leading up to Christmas Eve. The term "posada" means "inn" in Spanish, and these celebrations reenact the journey of Mary and Joseph as they sought a place to stay in Bethlehem.

Beyond their religious significance, posadas also serve as a time for families and communities to come together and celebrate the holiday season.

At the 2023 Posada in Grant, AFLS staff Martha Cerda and Julia Briones were present to offer employment services and information. The event, organized by the Sparta Migrant Resource Council, provided new coats to all participants. Attendees enjoyed the posada and expressed their gratitude for the services and warm coats provided.

Staff Announcements

Jesus Lule

Effective December 10, 2023, we are excited to announce the new assignments for our team members at the Michigan Works! Service Centers in Paw Paw and Benton Harbor.

Jesus Lule will now be based at the Michigan Works! Service Center in Paw Paw, located at 32849 Red Arrow Hwy Suite 100, Paw Paw, MI 49079.

Previously, Jesus was covering the Berrien County area and providing assistance in other counties as needed. With his extensive knowledge of the region, Jesus is well-prepared to serve the community in his new role.

Additionally, Sandy Jimenez has been assigned to the Benton Harbor Michigan Works! Service Center, located at 499 W Main St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022.

Sandy Jimenez

Sandy, who previously covered Van Buren County and assisted in other counties as needed, brings valuable experience to her new position. Her familiarity with the area will greatly benefit the individuals she serves.

Both Jesus and Sandy have a proven track record of delivering exceptional employment services to MSFWs. They are dedicated professionals who are passionate about helping individuals find meaningful employment opportunities.

We warmly welcome Jesus and Sandy to their new offices and are confident that they will continue to excel in their roles.

Find the contact information for all Agricultural Employment Liaisons here.

Highlights from the 2023 Great Lakes EXPO

Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market 

AFLS team at the 2023 Great Lakes Expo

The 2023 Great Lakes Expo in Grand Rapids was a bustling hub of activity where attendees got valuable insights into the employment services provided by the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. AFLS staff shared information about the various opportunities available to both employers and employees with attendees. 

During the expo, the AFLS team had the chance to connect with growers and extended an invitation to the upcoming Growers Meeting in spring 2024. This meeting promises to be a significant event for growers, creating a platform for networking and sharing knowledge.

Moreover, the team conducted an engaging workshop on "Improving Customer and Employee Experience at the Farm Through Cultural Competence." This workshop aimed to enhance the understanding of cultural diversity and its impact on the farm environment. Attendees gained valuable insights on promoting inclusivity and improving interactions with both customers and employees.

Overview shot of attendees at the 2023 Great Lakes Expo

The Expo drew growers not only from Michigan but also from surrounding states and Canada, making it a truly international gathering. This diverse attendance added richness and depth to discussions, fostering a vibrant exchange of ideas and experiences.

The 2023 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market Expo held in Grand Rapids was an excellent opportunity for the Office of Foreign Labor Services (OFLS) team members Mercedes Chaves, Maribel Valle and Ginger Vallejo to network with employers, agents and external partners, as well as attend educational sessions. The OFLS team received high praise from partner and employers for their work ensuring timely reviews, great customer service, and implementing methods to ensure a streamlined process.

Over the course of three days, the Great Lakes Trade Expo offered a comprehensive program that included sessions on fruit crops, vegetable crops, other specialty crops, greenhouse crop production and marketing, farm marketing ideas and operations, farmers’ markets, and organic production and marketing. The event also featured sessions covering a variety of general interest topics, such as food safety and labor.

AFLS team presentation at the 2023 Great Lakes Expo

In attendance were farmers, ranchers, industry professionals, and anyone with a passion for agriculture. With its diverse range of exhibits, educational sessions and networking opportunities, the Great Lakes Expo has been recognized as the Expo for Everything AG.

The Labor 1-Ag Labor Policy session provided insight into the struggles Michigan farmers are facing with the rising costs of the H2-A program and the 2024 increase of Adverse Effect Wage Rate to $18.50. The concerns lead to worries about Michigan’s food system sustainability and the impact of fresh produce trades.

The AFLS team also had an opportunity to present on “How to Improve Customer and Employee Experience” at the Farming Through Cultural Competence Session. The session featured OFLS Manager Ginger Vallejo and Agriculture Employment Liaison Kevin Benson, who shared their insights from working in the farm industry to promote cultural diversity in a rapidly changing agriculture workforce.

Session attendees also learned about appreciating cultural diversity in the Ag Industry, as well as how to create welcoming spaces for both customers and employees. The session also included a presentation from Naim Edwards and Stathis Pauls of the MSU-Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation and Eastern Market in Detroit.

Finally, attendees got to hear about farm experience from George McManus of Piggott's Farm Market & Bakery. George talked about his passion for caring for his land and the secrets to keeping his workforce loyal, some for more than 45 years!

Create a Career Roadmap with Pathfinder!

What is Pathfinder and how do I use it?

Pathfinder banner

Pathfinder, Michigan’s free online career exploration tool, uses current labor market, wage and institutional data and metrics to help you create an individualized career roadmap. Pathfinder empowers individuals make informed choices about educational and career options. Plus – complete more than one roadmap to compare the different outcomes!

The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity's Office of Employment and Training (LEO-E&T) created this online career planning tool to help connect Michigan residents with high-quality, in-demand degrees and credentials.

Are you ready to map your future? Create your career roadmap today at

Explore Current Job Opportunities on Pure Michigan Talent Connect homepage with Braille Literacy Month banner

Michigan has thousands of jobs throughout the state in a variety of industries, including many full-time jobs with benefits in the Food and Agricultural Industry, as well as in the Agri-business sector.

We encourage you to visit Pure Michigan Talent Connect ( and search for your next full-time job today!

View a list of agriculture-related jobs here.

Updates from the Office of Foreign Labor Services

New 2024 H-2A Hourly Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWR) for Non-Range Occupations

The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) released a notice to declare the 2024 Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWR) for temporary or seasonal nonimmigrant foreign workers (H-2A workers) who are employed to perform agricultural labor or services other than the herding or production of livestock on the range.

Important Note: In the event an employer’s job opportunity requires the performance of agricultural labor or services that are not encompassed in a single SOC code’s description and tasks, the applicable AEWR will be the highest AEWR for all applicable SOCs. See 20 CFR 655.120(b)(5).

The hourly AEWRs below apply when the job opportunity requires workers to perform agricultural labor or services covering one or more of the following SOCs:

    • 45-2041 - Graders and Sorters, Agricultural Products.
    • 45-2091 - Agricultural Equipment Operators.
    • 45-2092 - Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse.
    • 45-2093 - Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural Animals.
    • 53-7064 - Packers and Packagers, Hand.
    • 45-2099 - Agricultural Workers, All Other.

View the AEWR page on FLAG for the new rates, by state.

The H-2B Program, Cap Count for H-2B Nonimmigrants

The Department of Homeland Security through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Department of Labor, published a temporary final rule making available an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for fiscal year 2024, on top of the statutory cap of 66,000 H-2B visas that are available each fiscal year. More information is available on the Temporary Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2024 webpage.

What is the H-2B Cap?

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, there is a statutory numerical limit, or “cap” on the total number of noncitizens who may receive an H-2B visa, or otherwise be granted H-2B status, during a fiscal year.

Currently, Congress has set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1 - March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 – Sept. 30).

Any unused numbers from the first half of the fiscal year will be available for employers seeking to hire H-2B workers during the second half of the fiscal year. Unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year do not carry over into the next fiscal year.

OFLC Provides Webinar Materials to Stakeholders on the 2024 H-2B Peak Season Filing Process

On December 13, 2023, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) held a webinar to provide stakeholder updates on the process for filing H-2B applications with a start date of April1, 2024, or later. 

Presentation Materials for the 2024 H-2B Program Peak Season Webinar:

Updates From the State Monitor Advocate 

SMA and SWA presentation

Michigan’s SMA, Gerardo Aranda, was recently invited to present during a national virtual convening on the many MSFW outreach successes with partner agencies. Michigan and the State of Washington were invited as both states have engaged various MSFW partners when conducting outreach.

Joint MSFW outreach has proven to serve larger numbers of MSFWs with services such as employment, training, education, legal, health, safety and farmworker rights.

Collage of MSFW outreach events

Gerardo highlighted the array of Workforce Development services available for MSFWs during his presentation and outlined how bringing stakeholders together provides qualitatively and quantitatively, proportionate services to MSFWs where live, gather and work.

He also recognized the Inter-Agency Migrant Services Committee and the nine Migrant Resource Councils for their activeness efforts serving MSFWs at the state and local levels. The presentation was well received with several states requesting information on how they could engage MSFW stakeholders.

MSFW Significant States and Michigan Works! Service Centers

A USDOL ETA notice identified Michigan as one of the top 20 MSFW Significant States and One-Stop Service Centers for Program Year 2023. Michigan remained ranked in the top ten Significant States in the country by connecting more than 3,800 (76%) of MSFWs with career services.

In addition, USDOL ETA identified there are eleven Michigan Works! Service Centers that are MSFW significant.

MSFW Performance Data

Through the end of the second quarter of program year 2023, Michigan continues to meet all eight MSFW Equity Ratio Indicators. MSFWs that visit their nearest Michigan Works! Service Center or those contacted through AES outreach services, are provided career, training and support service referrals at the required percentage levels.

More than 3,200 MSFWs have received career services in the first two quarters of the current program year, compared to 3,892 the previous four quarters of program year 2022.

Performance Indicators table

Congratulations AFLS and Michigan Works!

A Special Thanks to our Agricultural Employment Services team as well as our Michigan Works!  partners for their hard work, dedication and commitment to providing qualitatively equivalent and quantitatively proportionate employment services to the MSFW population in Michigan. Michigan has consistently ranked among the top twenty states in the nation for providing equitable services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers.

Hector Arroyo Jr. speaking

Recently, Michigan has achieved an impressive gain ranking among the top ten in the nation and number one in Region V, which includes ten Midwest states.

This achievement is a true testament to the collaboration and work accomplished through our partnerships ensuring the provision of employment services to MSFWs. I would also like to acknowledge SMA Gerardo Aranda for his continued guidance and technical assistance, as well as Rubi Berumen and Hugo Pantoja, MSFW Program Managers for their tireless dedication.”

It’s also important to acknowledge and extend our gratitude to Mike Wurmlinger, Workforce Development Deputy Director, and Stephanie Beckhorn, Director of Employment & Training, for their commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility, as well as their unwavering support in providing workforce development services to the MSFW population and agricultural employers.

– Hector Arroyo Jr., Targeted Services Division Administrator (pictured above)

Upcoming Events

Great Lakes Trade Expo 2024, January 23-25, 2024

AFLS team at the 2023 Great Lakes Expo

We are excited to announce the AFLS team will be present at the expo, ready to connect with everyone and provide valuable information about the services available to growers and MSFWs.

If you are interested in learning more about how our team can assist you in your agricultural endeavors, we invite you to stop by booth 133. Our dedicated team will be on hand to answer any questions and provide you with insights into the various services we offer.

Whether you are a grower looking for a workforce or a farm worker seeking support and resources, we are here to assist you. Don't miss this opportunity to engage with our team and discover how AFLS can enhance your agricultural experience.

Learn more about the Great Lakes Trade Expo 2024 here

Agricultural & Foreign Labor Services
Workforce Development

Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity