Wednesday, September 27, 2017
On a recent, perfect morning at Johnson Farms in northern Michigan, workers climb wooden ladders high up into the trees, picking bags strapped across their bodies. The branches are heavy with fruit that glows in the morning sun. Their fingers are a blur, nimbly plucking fruit and filling bushel bags: about 50 pounds per load. It's hard, sweaty work.
Apple season was just getting underway on Old Mission Peninsula, a finger of land poking into Lake Michigan, dotted with lush farms.
The pickers range in age from 21 to 65, and all of them are Mexican. As in the rest of the U.S., growers in heavily agricultural northern Michigan rely overwhelmingly on migrant laborers to work the fields and orchards.
According to the farm owners, the workers either came from Mexico on temporary H2A visas or they have paperwork showing they are in the U.S. legally.
Farmers from Georgia to California say they have a problem: not enough workers to harvest their crops.
It's estimated anywhere from half to three-quarters of farmworkers are in this country illegally, and some growers say that President Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric has made a chronic worker shortage even worse. Read more...