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20 Sep 2023

Bridge Michigan (USA)

USA: Migrant workers in Michigan diary industry face poor and unsafe living conditions, incl. co. comment

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“Michigan dairy farm housing: ‘Invisible’ workers suffer, state looks other way”

…Esqueda’s house was never inspected by state or local officials. That’s because dairy laborers… are not considered migrant or seasonal workers

Michigan, like most other states, largely does not regulate dairy farm housing…

Farm advocates say Michigan’s dairy industry is struggling, as milk consumption declines nationwide and bigger farms monopolize the market

…advocates say many may be unlikely to complain about conditions because they may be undocumented…

Esqueda worked on the Poling Dairy Farm in the village of Addison. Farm owner Doug Poling …described Esqueda as a disgruntled former employee…

The owners didn’t have a chance to finish cleaning the house before Esqueda arrived, Jaime Poling said, and the previous tenant had raised chickens downstairs without her knowledge.

The Michigan Farm Bureau, one of the state’s biggest agricultural trade groups, did not respond to several Bridge inquiries…

A spokesperson for the Michigan Milk Producers Association — the state’s largest dairy cooperative — said only that dairy farms aren’t required to provide housing to employees and are “subject to the same laws and requirements that apply to other residential landlords in Michigan.”…

House Agriculture Committee Chair Rep. Reggie Miller, D-Van Buren Township, did not respond to requests for comment….