Agricultural & Foreign Labor Services May News and Highlights

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May 9, 2024

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AEL Dedication Helps Provide Resources for Agricultural Employers and Workers

Migrant and Seasonal Farm Workers milling about in front of a white barn

No two days are alike for an Agricultural Employment Liaisons (AELs), who strive daily to locate and contact migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFWs) and agricultural employers in the state. AELs work to educate, motivate and empower agricultural employers, MSFWs and their family members by connecting them to the full array of services available at their local Michigan Works! Service Center. 

Martha Cerda is one of sixteen AELs who serves as a member of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s Agricultural Employment Services (AES) team, conducting the required outreach efforts. Like all other AELs, Martha is required to locate and contact MSFWs who are not being reached by the traditional Michigan Works! intake activities.

An empty field with a sunrise in the background

Martha goes above and beyond in her outreach role to serve MSFWs and employers. She actively canvasses her assigned coverage area(s), implementing innovative ways to contact the majority of MSFWs and building a strong rapport with agricultural employers. Some examples include attending employers’ orientations and bringing many essential community partners that serve MSFW to distribute information and provide services directly onsite. 

Her strong ties with many partners that serve MSFWs, helps Martha facilitate a better way to deliver a variety of services directly to MSFWs and agricultural employers. For example, healthcare assistance and other related services provided by Department of Health and Human Services, basic health screenings by Great Lakes Bay, mental health services to agricultural employers and MSFWs offered by Michigan State University Extension – Managing Farm Stress, Migrant Education, and United Farmworker Foundation just to name a few. Together, they are helping connect MSFWs to vital services that are a key start to a great season for agricultural employers and farmworkers.

On a typical day, Martha begins her day with the sunrise quite often throughout the season and returns home at sundown. Contact your Agricultural Employment Liaison.

AFLS Pre-Season Training Conference

AFLS team at the 2024 Pre-Season Training Conference

In April, the AFLS team gathered for the Pre-Season Training Conference in picturesque Traverse City. This gathering, led by Agricultural Employment Liaisons Keven Benson, Jesus Lule and Elizbia Xaxni-Capula, is always a pivotal moment to align our efforts and set the stage for a successful season ahead.

This year’s theme, Innovate, Collaborate and Facilitate a Better Way for Serving MSFWs and Farmers, served as a reminder to the whole team to work together to better serve farmers and MSFWs this growing season. This was also a big part of the message Stephanie Beckhorn, Director of LEO's Office of Employment and Training, delivered to staff. 

Living Legacies: How the Bienvenidos Co-organizer Has Positively Impacted the Lives of MSFWs

Pedro Martinez cortez speaking at a podium

Six years ago, the AFLS team partnered with Pedro Martinez Cortez to host the first ever Bienvenidos event in southwest Michigan. The event, held at the beginning of each summer, helps welcome MSFWs to Michigan and provides them with resources they may need during their stay.

Martinez Cortez, a first-generation college graduate thanks to the Upward Bound program, is himself a child of migrant farmworkers who moved to Michigan. He holds a teaching degree in Spanish Literature and Social Sciences from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor and a master's degree in education leadership from Grand Valley State University.

Having retired after 35 years as a teacher and education administrator in migrant/bilingual education, Martinez Cortez was honored to oversee Michigan's largest migrant education program. Under his guidance, the Van Buren Intermediate School District Migrant/Bilingual Program received state and national recognition for its excellence, impacting the lives of approximately 21,000 pre-K through 12th-grade migrant students and their families.

Through his dedication to education and advocacy for migrant students, he has broken barriers and paved the way for others to pursue their dreams. His commitment to empowering underserved communities and his unwavering belief in the transformative power of education have left a lasting impact on those he has touched. 

Martinez Cortez truly is a shining example of how education and perseverance can change lives and create opportunities for a brighter future. His story is a testament to every individual's resilience, determination and potential, regardless of background or circumstance. 

Get Your Degree, Tuition Free!

Michigan Reconnect, now open for ages 21-24 graphic

Life happens, we get it. No matter what called you away from pursuing your degree, it’s never too late to get back to where you started. And now is the perfect time to reconnect to your education, your dreams and your future.

The Michigan Reconnect scholarship program is for eligible adults 21 years and older who want to pursue an associate degree or skills certificate. The program pays the remaining balance of in-district tuition and mandatory fees after other state and federal financial aid has been applied. Students who attend out-of-district community colleges will receive a large tuition discount.

For additional program information and to fill out your application, visit

Not sure what to study? Explore Michigan’s high-demand, high-wage careers in the Michigan Hot 50 Job Outlook.

Michigan Business Roadmap Launched to Help Michigan Businesses

Overhead view of interstate exchange

The Michigan Departments of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) and Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) collaborated to create the Michigan Business Roadmap website aimed at assisting entrepreneurs and small business owners in Michigan.

The Michigan Business Roadmap provides a straightforward resource for navigating many of the processes that can seem overwhelming to business owners in Michigan. The website offers valuable guidance and resources to help entrepreneurs overcome challenges and achieve success in the Michigan business landscape.

View the Michigan Business Roadmap at

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

United States Department of Labor (USDOL) 2024 Ag Seminar

On March 28, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division held the 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.

Discussions included 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. The webinar recordings can be accessed using the links below:

Training Announcement

United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division will collaborate with several Federal Agencies and offer a virtual Forum on May 8 - 9 to provide training and outreach on workplace protections. There is no cost to attend this online event.

Compliance Assistance Toolkits are available via USDOL for the following topics:

You can also find additional resources at and at Call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free help line: 1-866-4-USWAGE (1-866-487-9243) TTY: 1-877-889-5627 Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Hours vary by region.

Updates From the State Monitor Advocate 

Video still from 6 News WOWT showing tornado destruction

In preparation for his visit to Nebraska to present at the Planting Seeds Conference, SMA Gerardo Aranda is reminded of the thousands of MSFWs who endure severe weather situations in states other than their homebase state.

In recent days a tornado touched down in Elkhorn, Nebraska destroying many homes. Tornados continued throughout Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Iowa, affecting the lives of MSFWs in those states.

National Weather Service website with Spanish text

Whenever severe weather passes through rural Michigan regions, farmworker labor camps may often be impacted, leaving individuals and families without power and other basic needs such as food and water. In these situations, AELs are often engaged to help coordinate resources through partner agencies to secure donations, to, at a minimum, deliver water and some food items to the workers.

The National Weather Service alerts are available in several languages. Having essentials such as power, water and cooling areas is important to the health and safety of MSFWs.

MSFW Outreach and Performance

The AES team has continued to provide a high level of outreach services to MSFWs in the state. As we approach the last quarter of the MSFW Outreach Program Year, nearly 18,000 MSFWs have thus far received complaint system information, support service provider list, Michigan Works! locations, and farmworkers rights and protection information. The team has also provided career services to more than 4,000 MSFWs.

Michigan is expecting approximately 68,000 MSFWs during this year's peak season. The AES team is planning to contact the majority of them.

Agricultural & Foreign Labor Services
Workforce Development

Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity