Braving the blizzard to find better labor management

Agriculture labor management meetings help farmers brave the storm to find lasting labor solutions.

Farm managers often feel like they are in a virtual blizzard when it comes to managing labor by not being able to see very far and feeling like things are unstable. Recently, more than 40 people in Northwest Michigan braved actual blizzard conditions to discuss ways to improve labor management on their farm.

Cold weather and blowing snow didn’t stop attendees from participating in a recent agriculture labor management program hosted by Michigan State University Extension at the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center. At the program farmers heard from personnel with the Michigan Workforce Development Agency, Michigan Farm Bureau, U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Enforcement, MSU Extension and fellow growers on how to improve their management skills, while thinking about how to handle labor management when labor resources become scarce.

Agriculture labor is often a topic that is high on the list of producers’ most important management issues, and the recent program was just one of six different opportunities for Michigan growers and producers to discuss labor issues this winter. In addition to the Northwest Michigan program, labor management was a topic of discussion at the Growing Michigan Agriculture conference in January, and there are three upcoming programs for farmers to still take advantage of.

If you are an agricultural producer who employs either seasonal or year-round labor, MSU Extension encourages you to attend one of the upcoming workshops to improve your knowledge of the regulatory environment for labor.

In western Michigan, MSU Extension is hosting the annual West Michigan Ag Labor Meeting on March 6 in Allendale, Mich. For details on registration please call Judy Hanson at 616-994-4548.

Agriculture Labor and Farm Safety meetings will be held in Shepherd, Mich. on March 12 and Sandusky, Mich. on March 13. The Shepherd program will be held at the Winding Brook Conference Center and will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Sandusky program will be held at the Sanilac County MSU Extension office and will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can register for either of these programs online.

At these programs, farmers will hear from experts from the Michigan Workforce Development Agency, Michigan Farm Bureau, U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Enforcement, and MSU Extension. Following lunch, agriculture safety will be discussed by representatives from Farm Bureau and MSU. For more information on the Shepherd and Sandusky locations, please call Stan Moore at 231-350-0400 or email at

All of the MSU Extension agriculture labor programs offered this winter will assist farmers in understanding agricultural labor issues and how to comply with farm labor laws. The programs will also help you improve your labor management skills and maintain a more productive and safe labor force.

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