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Recruitment system helps farmers find seasonal labor

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) for Michigan are promoting the Agricultural Recruitment System (ARS) designed to help agricultural employers find interested and available workers, including migrant and seasonal labor. Through ARS, agricultural employment specialists with the WDA help locate and refer workers to meet the labor needs of Michigan's agricultural employers.

"The goal of this program is to remove some of the red tape, making it easier for farmers to locate and hire migrant and seasonal workers and get their products into the marketplace," said Belen Ledezma, director of migrant, immigrant and seasonal worker services for WDA. "ARS is a valuable tool for helping Michigan's agricultural employers find the workers they need. I encourage those who haven't used it before to take advantage of the opportunity."

ARS offers three types of assistance to help employers find workers within the United States. These include local job order used to find workers within 65 miles of the job site; intrastate clearance order used to find workers within Michigan; and interstate clearance order used to bring in workers from other states.

Intrastate and interstate clearance orders require the employer to provide no-cost migrant housing licensed by MDARD. Employers using the ARS must also comply with applicable federal and state laws on wage rates, health and safety compliance.

"MDARD works hard to ensure Michigan's seasonal and migrant workers have access to good living conditions through our migrant housing inspection program," said Mark Swartz, MDARD resources conversation migrant labor section manager. "There are 4,400 migrant housing units in Michigan and we inspect all on an annual basis."

Job orders can be canceled without cost to the employer up to 10 days prior to the date of employment. If the order is not canceled within the 10 days and the employer fails to notify the out-of-area workers, the employer will be required to pay one week of wages. This requirement can be waived due to weather conditions or natural disasters. Agricultural employment specialists can help write a job description to minimize employment risks associated with crop loss, crop damage and late or early harvest conditions.

"One common misconception is that employers need to pay for workers' travel when using this type of employment assistance, but that is not the case." said Ledezma. "Covering some travel costs may help entice a worker to travel in order to work for you, but it is not a requirement for participating in the program."

To receive assistance in finding workers, employers should contact the agricultural employment specialist (AES) stationed at Michigan Works! One Stop Service Centers in Adrian, Bay City, Dowagiac, Fremont, Holland, Ionia, Lapeer, Ludington, Paw Paw, Shelby, Sparta and Traverse City.

"The local AES will help draft a detailed position description and job posting information tailored to meet specific employers' needs," said Ledezma. "A well-crafted description helps the staff provide employers with quality referrals."

The AES will first refer available and interested local workers who meet the qualifications on the posting. If no local workers are available, the AES will use the ARS system to locate workers from other areas in the state and workers from other states using one stop offices throughout Michigan and around the country. By working cooperatively with one stops in other states, Michigan is better able to meet the workforce needs of its agricultural employers.

Michigan's 17 AES serve an estimated 14,000 migrant and seasonal farmworkers each year. In the past, state AES have traveled to Texas to promote Michigan's agricultural industry, and have successfully attracted workers to Michigan to help ease labor shortages within the state.

Agricultural employers wanting to learn more about ARS or to arrange for help from a Michigan AES are encouraged to visit www.michaglabor.org or contact their local Michigan Works! Agency office.

(Note: This report is provided as a service to our readers and a service to the group or individual mentioned in the release. Usually, only minor editing is done. The group or individual is responsible for all information provided.)

 

 

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