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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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