Stricter Rules on Green Cards Could Impact Local Farms

The Trump administration is making it harder for immigrants to get their green cards and migrant workers to get a visa.

A new rule could deny immigrants access to government assistance programs such as food stamps, Medicaid and a green card. 

Locally this affects farmers who rely on migrant workers throughout the year.

King Orchards employs around 30 immigrant workers so they say these stricter rules are definitely something they’re concerned about.

“Commercial fresh fruit and vegetable production here in northern Michigan is reliant on immigrant labor,” said Juliette King McAvoy, the project manager at King Orchards.

Strict new rules from the Trump administration will make it harder for immigrants to get green cards.

That could impact the number of crops farms like King Orchards can produce.

“We are going to have to make adjustments if we don’t think we can have enough labor so we may move away from crops like fresh apples, strawberries, peaches that are very labor intensive,” said McAvoy.

They say the consistency of their workers is crucial.

“I’m part of the second generation here at King Orchards and as we make plans for the future, a reliable labor source is one of the most critical factors that we consider,” said McAvoy.

King Orchards spends time and money to train workers and want to see the same workers come back each year.

“Agricultural businesses are already dealing with so much unreliability and risks because of the weather and natural factors that unreliable labor might just be that one tipping point that we choose not to continue farming and do something else with our land or our careers,” said McAvoy.

King Orchard’s says without these workers, they wouldn’t be the successful farm that they’ve become.

“These people are the salt of the earth. They work hard and epitomize that American dream. Working hard to make their lives and the lives of their families better,” said McAvoy.