If I had to sum up 2021 with one image or phrase, it would probably be “help wanted”. Businesses everywhere are looking for labor. It has caused many restaurants to limit seating, shorten hours, or even close. This problem of labor is relatively new to a lot of these businesses, but it’s something that has plagued agriculture since well before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In agriculture we hear it’s the number one concern that farmers mention when you have a conversation of what keeps you up at night,” says Sarah Black, General Manager for Great Lakes Ag Labor Services. “There’s always a lot of things but if you don’t have anybody to work, nobody to help you with your crops or animals, you can’t continue. So, labor is the number one challenge on most farms today.”
Great Lakes Ag Labor Services was created by Michigan Farm Bureau in 2013 after members asked for help navigating the often-confusing H-2A program.
“It was a simple as we have multi-generational family farms here that have been in business for 150 years that aren’t going to be here tomorrow if we can’t figure this out,” explains Black. “So, our members said to us, ‘We know there’s this H-2A program. We know it’s a legal way to get guest workers here, but we understand it’s complicated, it’s expensive, it’s fraught with litigation if it’s not done correctly- will you please help us?’ So, Michigan Farm Bureau started Great Lakes Ag Labor Services to be a member service to our members and help them through that process and that’s what we do.”
Indiana Farm Bureau members can take advantage of the services of Great Lakes Ag Labor Services that include drafting, filing, and processing of three government agency applications, translation services, and much more, including a website full of resources at your fingertips.
“Really, it doesn’t matter the type of farm you have. It’s the type of job task and if that job task is seasonal in nature or part-time in nature, it qualifies under H-2A. So, doesn’t matter if you’re a grain farm, a greenhouse, a pig farm, whatever, if you’ve got jobs on the farm that are temporary or seasonal, you can use the H-2A program, and we’ll help you figure it out.”