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Farms milk shrinking job market

T he Michigan dairy industry has been growing for the last few years, but a new statewide study says production may soon be slowed due to a shrinking workforce.



T

he
Michigan dairy industry has been growing for the last few years, but a new statewide study says production may soon be slowed due to a shrinking workforce.



F

arms around the state have seen an increase in demand for their milk

, but many of these farms say they are struggling to find qualified workers to fill open jobs.



"

It's dirty work, sometimes it's hard work

,

it's long hours

,

and of course they have to be trained and ready to do it

," Marv Rubingh, Rubingh's Dairyland farmer said.



A

t
Rubingh's Dairyland in Ellsworth, it's a family affair. Kids are raised to work on the farm from an early age.



M

arv
Rubingh says he has never had issues finding people to work, but he would understand where other farms may struggle.



"

There are labor positions that don't take a lot of training and then there's management and physicians dealing with government regulation

s



and

that does take a lot of training

," Rubingh said.



M

any of these jobs are going unfilled.

W

hile there are dairy education programs at some high schools and colleges

,

instructors find that students just aren't interested.




"

I think there is just a lack of Interest in farming or dairy specific

al

ly

," Becky Scholl-Stauffer, Petoskey High School farm science teacher said.



S

choll-

S

tauffer says over the last 20 years interest in agriculture and dairy careers have faded.




"

It's difficult to get kids interested for one they know nothing about it and two, labor-intensive jobs they aren't used to it

," Scholl-Stauffer said.



S

ince many younger people are not filling these jobs

,

farmers are now looking towards alternative outlets.




O

ne of the options that is frequently brought up among the farming community is somehow drawing more legal immigrants to
Michigan farms.



"

They do know how to work there willing to work hard in a lot of times they're willing to work on farm and learn how to do i

t," Rubingh said.



The study was released by the Agriculture Leaders of Michigan and was conducted by Michigan State University and the Michigan Milk Producers Association.

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