Michigan’s bumper crop of apples could rot on the trees due to a lack of workers to pick them. This warning came from Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) yesterday. Despite a near double-digit unemployment, apple growers are desperate to find help to apple pickers for the next six weeks. According to MFB a plea has gone to known labor contractors in the south where the crops have a longer life.
Unlike neighboring Ontario, Michigan farmers cannot depend on temporary worker’s visas for laborers. Canadians allow migrant crop workers to enter their country for short periods of time to assist in seasonal jobs such as crop picking. But the United States does not offer temporary worker visas preventing Michigan farmers from taking advantage of this annual workforce.
Unlike the stereotypical belief that picking is low paying, these jobs actually pay well. Each picker is paid per bushel allowing an aggressive picker to well outpace the minimum wage generally associated with picking. According to the book “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” one can easily make $13 or more.
But before you head to the farms please know experience is very beneficial for success.
“There is no educational degree, no two-year program, and no weekend workshop that I know of that trains people how to harvest fruit and vegetables,” said Craig Anderson, manager of MFB’s Ag Labor and Safety Services. “The only way to learn is to get out in the field, learn from the veterans and develop a soft touch, quick eyes and speedy hands. Produce needs to come in without bruises, at its market-peak readiness and it needs to be harvested as quickly as possible, not only because of food safety and quality concerns, but because low-quality produce deflates the farmer’s bottom line. If profits are depleted because of quality discounts, no one wins.”
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