Asparagus growers say ask for U.S. grown

A Michigan asparagus grower says in a matter of days prices can crash once importers decide to interrupt the domestic market.

“It can create a lot of havoc in a short time, I’m talking days, two or three days can make all the difference in the world.”

Harvest is underway in one the nation’s largest growing regions, Oceana County right alongside Lake Michigan, and grower Tom Oomen tells Brownfield he’s been harvesting stalks on and off for about a month, but markets are already under pressure.

“They know when our season comes, we have good markets right up till the day we start and then they’ll last about a week and then Peru will start coming in,” he says.

Michigan growers supply the Midwest and east of the Mississippi River during the short season between May and June. Oomen says quality is starting to increase demand in places as far as California, but more needs to be done to protect the American season.

“Our diameter is bigger than most imports, it’s just the environmental conditions it grows in,” he explains.  “Look on the tags on the bundles, it should say grown in Michigan, Michigan asparagus, or grown in the U.S.”

Oomen says at times Mexico is also an import threat with both countries paying their workers a days’ worth of wages a U.S. worker earns in an hour.

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