Agricultural & Foreign Labor Services June News and Highlights

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June 10, 2024

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

Oceana County – the asparagus capital of the world


Did you know! Asparagus is one of the first crops harvested each year in Michigan and the majority of asparagus in Michigan is grown in the asparagus capital of the world – Oceana County. Asparagus season is already in full swing this year. In Michigan, asparagus typically begins early to mid-May and can last until mid to end of June, depending on the weather.

Unlike other crops, asparagus can take three years to go from seed to harvest! However, the plants will produce spears for decades, making it a great long term production crop. Unlike other crops, asparagus can only be hand harvested throughout the season, which it is quite labor intensive.

According to the AcreValue blog, asparagus is a big deal in Michigan and Oceana County is at the center of the green wave. The county contributes a substantial portion of Michigan’s asparagus production, highlighting its importance in the agricultural landscape. The fertile soils and favorable climate in Oceana County make it an ideal location for asparagus cultivation, which thrives here, producing bountiful crops that are both delicious and nutritious.

Welcome to Michigan!

Welcome Event flyer

The Agricultural and Foreign Labor Services team within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) welcomes farmworkers to Michigan at the annual Welcome Event, a significant and eagerly anticipated gathering.

Last year’s event drew more than 700 migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFWs) and their families to the Van Buren Youth Fairgrounds to partake in this momentous occasion.

This year’s sixth annual event will take place on Saturday, June 29 from 12 - 4 p.m. at the Van Buren County Youth Fairgrounds in Hartford, Michigan. The event will involve state and community-based agencies, employers, and a dedicated team of more than 50 volunteers who generously volunteered their time to welcome MSFWs.

A big thank you to the many sponsors that contributed to this year's event!

Join Us

If you are interested in participating in the event, please contact Sandy Jimenez at 517-599-6808 or Come join us for an afternoon of fun, prizes, employment and training resources, education services, food distribution, onsite health care services, free haircuts, and more!

We also need dedicated volunteers like you to make this event a success. If you are interested in helping, please sign up at Your contribution will be greatly appreciated.

Serving MSFWs through strategic parternships

Agricultural Employment Liaisons Jesus Lule and Clarikssa Mejia with William holding up calendar with his picture on the cover

Angie Gutierrez, the Van Buren Migrant Program Director invited Agricultural Employment Liaisons Jesus Lule and Clarikssa Mejia to attend a recent Parent Regional Meeting. Jesus and Clarikssa addressed migrant families who attended in person from Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties. They also connected virtually with migrant families who represented the migrant program from all over Michigan.

Their successful collaboration with the VBISD and the Migrant Education Program provided the group with employment services and information on training opportunities. This collaboration resulted in several registrations and an opportunity to follow up with other MSFWs to provide employment services.

For Jesus and Clarikssa, the highlight of the meeting was running into William, a past participant. William is featured on the front page of the Farmworker Legal Services calendar, and he was very excited to share that the photo was taken while he was picking apples in northern Michigan.

Thanks to this successful collaboration, our staff contacted 200 MSFWs at the meeting, and we anticipate this partnership to continue throughout the year.

Avian Influenza Outreach Efforts Intensify in Michigan


With increased reports of avian influenza in Michigan, our Agricultural Employment Liaisons (AELs) actively engage with various workgroups to address these concerns and obtain prevention materials in Spanish and English to distribute to workers and farm owners. These workgroups consist of health organizations across the state, including the Michigan Departments of Health and Human Services, and Agriculture and Rural Development.

The dedicated team of AELs is diligently preparing to disseminate crucial information on avian influenza and other health issues to agricultural workers or direct them to the appropriate agencies for further assistance. Considering recent reports of a second human case of bird flu, there is a heightened sense of urgency to promptly inform the public, especially MSFWs who may face barriers to accessing this critical information, particularly in their preferred languages. More information regarding the human case of bird flu can be found in this article.

Additional resources related to Avian Influenza:

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

USDOL to host webinar for the 2024 Farmworker Protection Final Rule on Thursday, June 13, 2024

The U.S. Department of Labor (ISDOL) will host a public webinar to educate employers, agricultural associations, farm labor contractors, farmworkers, advocates, and other interested members of the public on the changes to the H-2A and Wagner-Peyser Employment Service programs made by the 2024 Farmworker Protection Final Rule on Thursday, June 13 from 1 - 2:30 p.m.

Participants will learn from the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC), the Office of Workforce Investment, and the Wage and Hour Division about the key aspects of this rule. The Final Rule will become effective on June 28, 2024, and OFLC will begin accepting applications subject to the provisions of this rule on August 29, 2024.

Register for the webinar here.

*Please note: There is an attendee maximum of 3,000 and a recording of the presentation in English and Spanish will be placed on the USDOL website later.

A New Rule to Improve Farmworker Protections

Our food supply relies on farmworkers, including hundreds of thousands on H-2A visas. Last week, Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su announced a new final rule that will strengthen protections for workers under the H-2A program and similarly employed workers in the U.S.

Learn more about the farmworker protection final rule here.

Updates From the State Monitor Advocate 

Planting Seeds Conference

State Monitor Advocate (SMA) Gerardo Aranda was invited to present at this year’s Planting Seeds Conference in Kearney, Nebraska. Aranda and Nebraska SMA Aaron Moreno met at various National Monitor Advocate trainings. Their conversations surrounded the topic of the stream of migrant workers from south Texas moving to the West, Midwest and Northeast in the mid-60s, something Aranda has personal experience with. As a child of migrant farmworkers, Aranda’s family traveled from Weslaco, Texas to Scottsbluff, Nebraska to hoe sugar beet plants.

Dr. Athena Ramos, Gerardo Aranda and Aaron Moreno

The conference was held in person for the first-time since the COVID-19 pandemic and was attended by nearly 100 people from different organizations that serve MSFWs in the state of Nebraska.

Dr. Athena K. Ramos of the University of Nebraska delivered a presentation on the services her team provides to MSFWs. Aranda provided the keynote address and spoke of the struggles many south Texas farmworker families faced enroute to different states to harvest fruits and vegetables. The Nebraska MSFW service organizations were thankful Aranda made the trip to provide them some history and discuss future collaboration.

MSFW Outreach and Performance

At the end of the of the second month of the fourth quarter of the program year, the team continues to meet all eight Equity Ratio Indicators. There were 4,454 MSFWs registered to date with 4,114 having been provided career services. Of those, 3,722 were provided unemployment insurance benefit assistance and 1,101 were assisted with transition from farm work to long term non-agricultural employment.

Agricultural & Foreign Labor Services
Workforce Development

Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity