Agricultural & Foreign Labor Services April News and Highlights

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April 12, 2024

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Highlights from the AFLS Annual Growers' meetings

AFLS team at the Benton Harbor Growers' Informational meeting

In March, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity - Workforce Development (LEO-WD) organized two Growers' Informational Meetings to provide growers with relevant and current information. The first meeting was held at the Benton Harbor Michigan Works! Service Center, where the LEO Agricultural Employment Services (AES) team eagerly welcomed many growers and partners.

The atmosphere was one of collaboration and shared learning as attendees engaged in discussions, networked with one another, and gained insights that could help them enhance their operations and navigate challenges effectively. The enthusiasm and participation demonstrated by the growers and partners underscored the importance and value of such events in fostering a solid and supportive agricultural community.

Back view of Growers' Informational Meeting attendees

The second meeting took place virtually. The two meetings drew more than 150 agricultural employers, representatives from various agencies and out-of-state workforce staff. The meetings were comprehensive, covering essential topics such as changes to agricultural labor laws, labor recruitment strategies, worker safety protocols, and the potential impact of weather on crop conditions for the upcoming season. Attendees' engagement and active participation highlighted the significance of staying informed and connected within the agricultural community.  

As a follow-up to the Growers’ Informational Meetings, the AES team encouraged employers to take advantage of the business services available at all Michigan Works! Service Centers throughout the state. The AES team and MWAs offer assistance in meeting labor needs through the Agricultural Recruitment System (ARS), ensuring growers have access to the resources and tools needed to sustain and grow their operations successfully. For more information, visit your local Michigan Works! Service Center or contact your local Agricultural Employment Liaison for assistance.

AELs continue reaching out to agricultural employers and workers

Clarikssa Mejia and Sandy Jimenez conducting outreach services

During the busy agricultural peak season, AELs visit migrant camps and employers to offer employment services and referrals to partner agencies. Recently, Agricultural Employment Liaisons Clarikssa Mejia and Sandy Jimenez visited an apple orchard where workers were trimming apple trees and spoke with both the employer and the workers. 

The employer showed keen interest in the employment services and information and the employees were grateful for the information received, as well as for the towels and warm blankets they provided.

Special thanks to Clarikssa, Sandy and the entire outreach staff for the exceptional services provided to migrant and seasonal farmworkers and employers.

Michigan Works! helps Cuban refugee and his son get on their feet

Ramon and his son

As a Cuban refugee, Ramon arrived in the U.S. along with his son seeking a better life. When he arrived, however, Ramon didn't have essential documents like a driver’s license, Social Security number and a work permit.

He connected with Michigan Works! West Central where he qualified for cash assistance while actively working on improving his English and fulfilling volunteer obligations as part of the PATH program.

Despite challenges, Ramon remained diligent in his communication with Michigan Works! West Central. In November 2023, he became eligible to apply for residency, and Michigan Works! West Central provided financial assistance to cover the associated fees. Though the wait for approval felt long, Ramon remained motivated by his desire to secure employment.

On March 4, 2024, Ramon and his son had received their residency cards. Grateful for the support received, he expressed his appreciation. With his newfound residency status, Ramon wasted no time applying for a job installing solar panels. He started work at the end of March, eager to embark on this new chapter of his life.

Staff Announcements

On March 18, AES seasonal staff commenced their first day of work, signaling the beginning of our agricultural peak season. Seasonal staff are instrumental in ensuring growers and food processors receive the necessary assistance with meeting their talent needs. They have been essential in delivering exceptional services to our migrant and seasonal farmworkers by facilitating job placement with employers.

Our seasonal team's dedication, enthusiasm and willingness to exceed expectations have significantly impacted and enhanced our work environment. Their efforts are truly valued and appreciated as we navigate this busy and important time. Please join us in welcoming back the following staff:

Collage of seasonal Agricultural Employment Liaisons

Patricia Gray

Clarikssa Mejia

Nancy Sanchez Ortega

Jose Barco

1040 S Winter St
Adrian, MI 49221
Cell: 517-759-9070

32849 Red Arrow Highway 
Paw Paw, MI 49079
Cell: 269-486-0914

550 Lake Drive, Suite B
Lapeer, MI 48446
Cell: 810-429-1970

920 E. Tinkham Ave
Ludington, MI 49431
Cell: (231) 923-1493

View the full list of Agricultural Employment Liaisons here.

Roadmap to Rural Prosperity 

Rural Prosperity map

The Michigan Office of Rural Prosperity released Michigan’s first-ever report focused on rural issues, the Roadmap to Rural Prosperity, in January 2024.

By synthesizing input from rural community leaders combined with additional research on key rural challenges and opportunities, the Roadmap to Rural Prosperity aims to give voice to rural communities, foster a statewide understanding of rural needs and priorities and help guide local, regional and state leaders in advancing collaborative and collective action to achieve prosperity across rural Michigan.

View the complete Roadmap here.

Explore career pathways during Career Exploration & Awareness Month

Career Exploration & Awareness Month banner

To spotlight the state’s growing need for talent and programs and services in place to help and engage residents in employment, training and educational opportunities, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer encourages Michiganders to explore the many career pathways available to them during April’s celebration of Career Exploration and Awareness Month.

The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) and the Michigan Center for Data and Analytics have created valuable resources to help Michiganders follow career and labor trends. These include Michigan’s Hot 50 report, which covers high-wage, in-demand careers that show a favorable mix of long-term job growth, projected annual job openings, and median wages; Michigan’s Career Outlook report, which provides multiple lists of in-demand occupations by education and training requirements; and Regional Career Outlook reports, which provide a breakdown of career outlook data in each of the state’s 10 regions. 

Explore different career and educational pathways at and create a roadmap towards your future!

Explore seasonal jobs or temporary jobs homepage is an online platform that links people to seasonal and temporary employment opportunities throughout the United States.

Whether you’re looking for seasonal work or require a short-term job, the website assists you in finding suitable employment.

Updates from the Office of Foreign Labor Services

H-2A Temporary Agricultural Program

The Office of Foreign Labor Services had a busy second quarter, where they assisted 31 employers who sought information about Foreign Labor Programs and 244 H-2A applications were submitted for review. Among these, 52 received Notice of Deficiencies.

The most frequent deficiencies included:

  • Multiple/Incorrect Standard Occupation Codes
  • Lifting requirements over 75 lbs
  • Incorrect transportation and subsistence allowance

The team worked closely with Migrant Labor Housing Inspectors from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to correct housing address errors in 31 cases, ensuring accurate reporting to the ETA/Office of Foreign Labor Certification. This concerted effort reflects the commitment to supporting employers and farmworkers in navigating the complexities of labor programs.

H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Program

During the peak filing period from January 2-4, a total of 489 applications were submitted for the H-2B program and impressively, all 489 were processed well ahead of the January 31 team goal!

As of now, 548 applications have been submitted. This outstanding achievement was made possible by the dedicated efforts of analyst Maribel Valle, with valuable support from Manager Ginger L. Vallejo. There were forty-one Notice of Deficiencies reported to the ETA/Office of Foreign Labor Certification. However, the positive news is that 308 applications have already been approved and certified

This success reflects the overall commitment and hard work of the Office of Foreign Labor Services Team.

OFLS Manager Celebrates National Farmworker Awareness Week

Ginger Vallejo at the 2024 MSU César Chávez & Dolores Huerta Commemorative Celebration

In recognition of National Farmworker Awareness Week, Ginger Vallejo, Office of Foreign Labor Services manager, had the privilege of attending the 2024 MSU César Chávez & Dolores Huerta Commemorative Celebration. This event pays tribute to the enduring legacy of two remarkable U.S. labor leaders and civil rights activists: César E. Chávez and Dolores Huerta.

The annual celebration took place at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, located in East Lansing. Each year, this gathering brings together the Michigan State University community and statewide partners to honor the impact made by Chávez and Huerta.

These trailblazers, driven by vision and passion, devoted their lifetimes to championing farmworkers’ rights, social justice, and equality. The theme for 2024, “Cosechando Nuestros Sueños: Harvesting Our Dreams,” beautifully captured the essence of hope, resilience and shared aspirations. The event invited the audience to contemplate the dreams we cultivate and the strides we tirelessly pursue.

During workshops, discussions and shared experiences, participants engaged in conversations about the challenges faced by Latinx and farmworker communities. Simultaneously, they celebrated the unwavering efforts dedicated to overcoming these obstacles.

Attendees learned about The Bandana Project, a public awareness campaign aimed at addressing the issue of workplace sexual violence against farmworker women in the United States.

The event featured Keynote Speaker Mónica Ramírez—a dedicated gender equity activist, civil rights attorney and co-founder of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas. Her inspirational and heartwarming speech resonated with the audience, reinforcing the empowerment of marginalized communities through her insights and unwavering advocacy.

Updates From the State Monitor Advocate 

Michigan continues to service a high number of MSFWs

More than 1,100 MSFWs were registered for employment services and were provided career and support service, assistance with UI service and referrals to federal training and jobs. By the end of the third quarter, 463 MSFWs were provided assistance by state and Michigan Works! staff in transitioning them non-agricultural long-term employment opportunities.

State Monitor Advocate Gerardo Aranda, has continued to work closely with Michigan Works! Service Centers that see a large number of MSFWs and regularly provides onsite guidance to management and staff at the Allegan, Benton Harbor, Holland and Traverse City locations.

State Monitor Advocate and coworkers to attend regional conference in Chicago

State Monitor Advocate Gerardo Aranda, MSFW Program Manager Ruby Berumen and AEL Julia Briones will be attending this year’s Region 5 MSFW Wagner-Peyser Employment Services Monitor Advocate System Pre-Season Meeting titled in WHO, WHAT & HOW the system provides equitable services to MSFWs Chicago on May 20-23.

The pre-season conference is held annually and attended by the ten SMAs in the region, an outreach worker and a manager. Regional Monitor Advocate Ray Garcia provides high level training in the provision of MSFW services. Speakers from the National Office are brought in to provide training on topics from MSFW outreach, complaints, reporting and discuss best outreach practices in each of the states.

SMA Gerry Aranda with team

State Monitor Advocate recognized for service to community

At the March 15 Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan meeting State Monitor Advocate Gerardo Aranda was recognized for the 40 plus years of serving the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker community with the ethnic/racial demographic consisting of nearly 70% Hispanic/Latino individuals.

Hector Arroyo Jr. speaking at SMA recognition

Gerardo outlined his career by addressing the commissioners and shared how being an ex-migrant farmworker prepared him for the position of State Monitor Advocate. State Division Administrator Hector Arroyo Jr. attended the event and spoke of Gerardo’s dedication to the MSFWs and to LEO-WD.

“It’s an honor being recognized by the commission, you are doing great things in the Hispanic/Latino Community,” said Gerardo.

Gerardo’s career with Employment Service began in 1979 as a seasonal MSFW outreach worker. Thereafter, he held positions in the Unemployment Agency, Employment Service as an Interviewer, Assistant State Monitor Advocate and currently the State Monitor Advocate.

Agricultural & Foreign Labor Services
Workforce Development

Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity