There’s no future for our farms

Specialty crop growers say next year could be their last season if labor rate increases don’t stop.       

A room of nearly 100 specialty crop growers estimate their operations have about two years left with the current state of H-2A guest worker visa rates.

“Why are we growing specialty crops for margins that are less than row crops? I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s not sustainable.”

Caleb Herrygers is the fourth generation of his family’s West Michigan farm and he’s worried he could be the last.

“I have three young boys that I’d love to see involved in the farm someday, but I’d be the first one to tell them that if economically, this does not make sense, you need to go do something else,” he says.   “I think that’s a sentiment that’s echoed across our industry right now. The biggest problem is once they go away, nobody’s coming back.”

He tells Brownfield who has the final say on the H-2A wage rate methodology remains elusive, but it’s the single greatest factor determining profitability.  And growers want answers.

“Honestly, nobody really has an answer for us as of yet, so we’re trying to make sure we get in front of the right people and get a coalition together here to come up with some solutions that can, you know, keep everybody in business long term,” he says.

A representative from the Department of Labor joined a labor policy session at the Great Lakes Expo.  While he took grower feedback, he was unable to identify how changes to the Adverse Effect Wage Rate were possible.

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