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.
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.
Rubingh's Dairyland in Ellsworth, it's a family affair. Kids are raised to work on the farm from an early age.
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
that does take a lot of training
," Rubingh said.
any of these jobs are going unfilled.
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
," Becky Scholl-Stauffer, Petoskey High School farm science teacher said.
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.
ince many younger people are not filling these jobs
farmers are now looking towards alternative outlets.
ne of the options that is frequently brought up among the farming community is somehow drawing more legal immigrants to
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.