Each year, nearly 30,000 migrant and seasonal workers come to Michigan to plant, harvest and process more than 160 specialty crops.
In honor of these individuals, Gov. Whitmer has proclaimed July as Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Appreciation Month.
“They are so vital to the state,” said Gary McDowell, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). “These workers come here—they’re guests while they’re here in Michigan, and we have to make sure we can do everything to make sure [their needs are] taken care of.”
McDowell recalled President Biden’s visit earlier this month to King Orchards in Antrim County. He explained how his treatment of workers should be exemplified by all.
“There were migrant workers out there and he went out there to them and was talking to them,” said McDowell. “[He told them] how important they were to Michigan ag and how we have to work to make sure they can obtain citizenship. He walked over and hugged a migrant worker. I thought, ‘This is what we all need to be doing—making sure we appreciate these workers.’”
He also extends his thanks to the farms themselves who employ seasonal workers throughout the year.
“They really do care—they care deeply for the workers that come here and pick our crops,” said McDowell. “They sure notice because so many of them have the same families coming back generations. They have their houses, they leave their clothes here because they’re coming back next year. That’s a real tribute to our farmers and also the people providing the housing.”