Farm Labor and Michigan Agriculture

November 2, 2023 8:00AM - 5:00PM

Registration Deadline: October 29, 2023 - 12:00AM

MSU University Club, 3435 Forest Road, Lansing, MI 48910 (Heritage Room)

Contact: Zach Rutledge,; Betsy Braid, 

Agricultural workers are a critical part of the United States economy, and their efforts enable American consumers to maintain access to a stable source of domestically-produced food. However, the supply of domestic farm workers is declining and farm labor shortages have become a chronic problem. This has created significant challenges for American farmers. Also, agricultural wages have lagged behind those in several other key sectors that compete for the same labor pool, adding pressure on an already tight farm labor market. In response to ongoing labor shortages, many agricultural employers have turned to the H-2A visa program to meet their labor needs, which is typically more expensive than hiring domestic workers.

Join this one-day conference focusing on labor challenges facing U.S. Agriculture for an open discussion about labor challenges and explore potential solutions to help face these challenges head-on.


While there is no charge for attending, pre-registration is required.

Draft Agenda

8 a.m.   Breakfast/Coffee

8:30 a.m.  
8:45 a.m. 
9 a.m.
Early Morning Session – Intro and Keynote
Welcoming Comments (Zach Rutledge, AFRE MSU)
Overview of Land Grant University Mission (Kelly Millenbah, Dean of CANR, MSU)
Keynote – Labor Issues & Policy Solutions (Michael Marsh, President of NCAE)
9:45 a.m. Coffee Break

10 a.m.  
10:20 a.m.  
10:40 a.m.

11 a.m. 
11:20 a.m.
11:40 a.m.
Late Morning Panel – Government (20-minute talks)
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Tim Boring, Director)
Insights from ERS Research on the H-2A Program (Marcelo Castillo, USDA-ERS)
Michigan Agricultural Labor Services (Hugo Pantoja, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity)
National Agricultural Workers Survey (Daniel Carroll, US Department of Labor)
AEWR Impacts on Domestic Wages (Zach Rutledge, MSU)
Panelist Q&A
12 p.m. Lunch

1 p.m. 
1:20 p.m.

1:40 p.m.
2 p.m.   
2:20 p.m. 
2:40 p.m.  

Early Afternoon Panel – Ag Labor Economists (20-minute talks)
Machines, Migrants, and Imports (Phil Martin, UC Davis)
Imperfect Competition in Agricultural Labor Markets (Timothy Richards, Arizona State University)
COVID Impacts on H-2A Use (Diane Charlton, Montana State University)
Agriculture Overtime Legislation Impacts (Alexandra Hill, UC Berkeley)
Legal Status and Agricultural Labor Supply (Margaret Jodlowski, Ohio State University)
Panelist Q&A
3 p.m.  Refreshment Break

3:15 p.m.  
3:35 p.m. 
3:55 p.m.
4:15 p.m.    
4:35 p.m.  
Late Afternoon Panel – Industry (20-minute talks)
Labor Issues in Great Lakes Specialty Crops (Jamie Clover Adams, Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board)
H-2A Services in Michigan (Sarah Black, Great Lakes Ag Labor Services)
The Current State of Mechanization in Fruit/Veg (Ines Hanrahan, Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission)
Farmworker Perspective (Edith Saavedra, UFW Foundation)
Panelist Q&A
4:55 p.m. Concluding Remarks (Zach Rutledge, AFRE MSU)


Discounted rooms are available at the attached Candlewood Suites for a nightly rate of $95 per room. Discounted rooms are available until October 1 or until the block is sold out, whichever occurs first. Rooms may be reserved by calling 517-351-8181 and mentioning the conference name or block code FLM.

Registration for this event has closed.

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