Labor emphasized at Great Lakes EXPO

Labor costs continue to challenge specialty crop growers’ competitiveness.

Michigan Vegetable Council executive director Greg Bird tells Brownfield sessions covering H-2A guest worker program updates and other labor issues are expected to be packed at this week’s Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo in Grand Rapids, Michigan as farmers grapple with one of the most challenging aspects of their business.

“We had to go to max capacity because of the new regulations that the government is working on for H-2A labor.”

He says on the trade front, labor costs put the U.S. at a disadvantage.

“Because it is an extreme cost.  When somebody sends a product here from somewhere where they’re paying a fraction of the cost, it’s difficult for us so we just have to make sure it’s known to our government that the playing field has to be level.”

Bird says the Vegetable Council will be meeting with industry leaders later this winter to better align with top priorities of growers and funding needs.

The Expo will also focus on farmer stress, weather challenges, and specialty crop research.

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