Agricultural & Foreign Labor Services March News and Highlights

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March 8, 2024

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Spring Is In The Air

Tulips in the rain

The Agricultural Employment Services team has started preparing for the upcoming harvest season. Michigan had a mild winter and is expecting an early spring. The arrival of warm weather also includes the arrival of farmworkers in the state. Several hundred farmworkers have already arrived, with thousands arriving during the months of March, April and May.

The mild winter will also have an impact on Michigan's growing season. Lower Michigan will see slightly above average temperatures while northern Michigan will see much higher than normal averages. The Upper Peninsula will see significantly well-above averages, according to a new forecast.

Join our upcoming Annual Grower's meeting!

March 13 Virtual Growers' Meeting flyer

To ensure a successful agricultural peak season from mid-March to mid-November, the Agricultural and Foreign Labor Services (AFLS) team is excited to host two events to support Michigan's growers. The meetings, intended for Michigan growers, are designed to equip participants with essential knowledge and tools to enhance their operations.

Recognizing the pivotal role of a skilled workforce in agricultural success, AFLS will provide valuable insights on effective recruitment and retention practices. This session will also cover updates on wage structures and labor laws to ensure growers are well-informed and compliant with regulations, promoting a harmonious work environment.

In addition to addressing workforce-related challenges, the meetings will feature discussions on crop updates and prioritizing health and safety protocols for both growers and employees.

With expert panelists guiding the conversation, growers will receive guidance on creating a safe working environment and mitigating potential risks, promoting a culture of well-being and productivity. Attendees will also be encouraged to help create innovative solutions to housing shortages and employee training needs.

The first event took place in Benton Harbor on March 7 and was attended by many growers from the surrounding area and several agencies that provide services to MSFWs. Hector Arroyo Jr., AFLS Targeted Services Division Administrator, addressed the audience with inspiring opening remarks. 

The next event will take place virtually on Wednesday, March 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

Register for the March 13 event

These gatherings will not only facilitate knowledge sharing but also foster collaboration between growers and industry experts.

Hector Arroyo Jr. speaking at the March 7 Growers' Meeting in Benton Harbor

Agricultural Employment Liaison helps MSFWs reach their employment goals

Martha Cerda with collogues

Like most Agricultural Employment Liaisons (AELs), Martha Cerda, who has been an AEL since January 2022, strives to improve opportunities for farmers and farmworkers by providing farmworkers more equitable access to necessary resources to help them develop their skills and education.

Farmworkers are an essential part of the workforce and help keep food on grocery store shelves and our tables.

Martha seizes every opportunity to empower Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFWs) and their families to take advantage of employment and training programs offered through their local Michigan Works! Service Center. This in turn increases their opportunities and ability to compete in the workforce, and creates an overall more skilled workforce. 

Group of people sitting around tables that are connected throughout a large room

Through a recent collaboration with some of her peers, including Michigan Department of Health and Human Services staff, a Michigan Works! Business Services Representative based out of Kalamazoo, and with JBS recruiters on site, Martha helped a group of MSFWs in their job search by inviting them to meet and interview with JBS recruiters.

Martha has on multiple occasions helped MSFWs with their employment needs, which aligns with Michigan Agriculture and Food Systems Workforce Advancement Initiative. Through this project, AFLS will help close the existing labor and skills gaps by increasing access to, and completion of, agriculture technology and other food system education and training programs for MSFWs, food growers, processors, and distributors. 

Staff Announcements

The team is excited for the return of our seasonal AELs on Monday, March 18. The return of our seasonal workers consistently coincides with the onset of the agricultural peak season in Michigan, a time when MSFWs rely on assistance in connecting with agricultural employers, employment services, and other support service agencies.

The AFLS team is eagerly preparing to welcome them back and ensure they are equipped with all the necessary information, training, and tools to continue delivering exceptional services to MSFWs, just as they have done in previous years.

Our seasonal staff will be based in Michigan Works! Service Centers across various regions, including southwest, southeast, northeast, and the thumb area situated in the central east part of the state. Stay tuned for more information!

Migrant Resource Councils gear up for the season

Heat Index alert on a phone screen

The AELs are gearing up to again become involved with their local Migrant Resource Councils this season. There are a total of nine Migrant Resource Councils (MRCs) in Michigan that meet monthly to discuss better ways to serve MSFWs and growers.

The MRCs are represented by staff from the various agencies that provide outreach services to MSFWs. The MRC members collaborate to host events throughout the state including the Christmas Basket Event in southwest Michigan and Farmworker Appreciation Day in Sparta. The AELs assist in the planning of these events and attend to promote employment and training services available at local Michigan Works! Service Centers. AELs also provide information about farmworker rights, complaint system information and job opportunities.

The AELs are also active members of the workgroups formed during COVID-19 that continue to meet monthly and address other potential MSFW health risks such as monkey pox, measles, and other health protections.

There are even trainings about protecting farmworkers from excessive heat while working outdoors. Download the Heat Safety Tool at

March is National Food & Agriculture Month

National Food and Agriculture Month banner

March signifies a national celebration of the importance of food and agriculture in the country and offers an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the diversity and abundance provided by Michigan’s farmers and our growing food and agriculture sector, and the partnerships that keep our food and agriculture industry thriving.

Agricultural and Foreign Labor Services (AFLS) supports the talent needs of this diverse industry by retaining and attracting global talent, centralizing and streamlining employment and training services for employers and MSFWs, and ensuring equity in access to employment and training service programs for MSFWs.

AFLS partners with federal, state, private, and non-profit organizations including resettlement agencies, economic development organizations, ethnic service providers, K-12 and postsecondary educational institutions, and Michigan Works! to provide services to employers and MSFWs.

Michigan has ranked among the top ten states nationally, largely due to the increase in recruitment of migrant and seasonal domestic workers as well as foreign workers, in order to meet employers labor needs. Learn more about how AFLS helps Michigan's food and agriculture industry at  

Explore Michigan's HOT 50 Jobs Outlook

Michigan's Hot 50 Job Outlook through 2030

Looking for career information? Need help with a job search? Take some time to explore Michigan's Hot 50 Career Outlook through 2023 to see Michigan's high-wage, high-demand careers! 

You'll also find the number of projected annual openings, the hourly wage range, and what type of training is required for each career. 

Explore Michigan's Hot 50 Career Outlook here.

Updates from the Office of Foreign Labor Services

H-2A Employer Recruitment Assurances and Obligations

As the 2024 harvest season begins, the Office of Foreign Labor Services would like to provide employer and H-2A agents with resources to ensure compliance with their recruitment obligations.

The goal of the H-2A temporary agricultural program is to allow agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature. The Department must determine:

  1. There are not sufficient able, willing, and qualified United States (U.S.) workers available to perform the agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature for which an employer desires to hire temporary foreign workers (H-2A workers); and
  2. The employment of the H-2A worker(s) will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of workers in the U.S. similarly employed.

Recruitment requirements indicate the employer must engage in positive recruitment of U.S. workers. For detailed information, please refer to Fact Sheet #26A: Recruitment Requirements under the H-2A Visa Program.

USDOL online educational seminar for agriculture industry employers, workers, and other stakeholders

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division will hold a 2024 Virtual Agricultural Seminar to provide guidance on federal requirements governing agricultural employment for growers, farmers, shippers, contractors, farm labor contractors, buyers and agricultural workers nationwide. This seminar will provide guidance on federal requirements governing agricultural employment.

When: March 28 from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Register to attend the virtual event

Presented in coordination with other agencies and stakeholders, the virtual seminar will focus on federal laws and regulations governing agricultural employment and include discussions on the H-2A temporary agricultural programFair Labor Standards ActMigrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and Office of Foreign Labor Certification

Discussions will include overviews of the requirements for wages, housing, transportation, field sanitation, farm labor contractor certification, the H-2A petition process and each agency’s role in therein, and more!

Simultaneous Spanish translation will be offered. To request an accommodation or for inquiries about accessibility, please contact William Sabik at by March 23, 2024.

USDOL Office of Foreign Labor Certification posts First Quarter Fiscal Year 2024 H-2A Data

In carrying out its responsibility for the processing of prevailing wage, labor certification, and labor attestation applications, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) generates an extensive amount of program data that is useful to a wide range of external stakeholders, including Congress, researchers, media organizations, industry associations, worker advocacy organizations, and the general public.

For more information, review Michigan H-2A first quarter statistics here.

Updates From the State Monitor Advocate 

National Agriculture Statistics Now Available!

The National Agricultural Statistics Service surveys for 2022 have been collected and published at Find Michigan farming statistics by searching for “Michigan.”

Michigan continues to meet Equity Ratio Indicators

AFLS and Michigan Works! staff continue to meet the eight Equity Ratio Indicators as we near the end of the third quarter of the current Program Year. Since July 1, 2023, the teams have reached out to more than 4,300 MSFWs and have assisted nearly 4,000 of them with career services. A total of 2,330 MSFWs have been referred to partner agencies and 2,076 have been provided job search assistance.

The teams continue to be inclusive of MSFWs by collaborating with schools, community colleges and agricultural and non-agricultural employers, ensuring MSFWs integrate into local communities. Several of the state’s employment, training, education, and legal service providers have reported an increase in the number of migrant farmworkers settling or relocating in Michigan after the pandemic.

Equity Ratio Indicators bar graphs

Columns from left: Received Basic Career Services, Received Individual Career Services, Received Staff Assisted Career Guidance Services, Received Staff Assisted Job Search Activities, Received Unemployment Insurance Claim Assistance, Referred to Employment, Referred to Federal Training, Referred to Other Federal or State Assistance.

The Monitor Advocate System outreach efforts continue to remain at high levels with more than 10,000 MSFW contacted and nearly 300 having been referred to jobs. In addition, the team has reached out to nearly 90 agricultural and non-agricultural employers on behalf of MSFWs.

Agricultural & Foreign Labor Services
Workforce Development

Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity