Worker at a Michigan apple farm.
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Michigan farmers say it is time for the federal government to make big changes to its immigration policy.
The state's agriculture industry leaders are in Grand Rapids this week. Their crops are in, and they're in meetings -- Michigan Farm Bureau meetings.
One of their top concerns of farm bureau members is finding people to pick their produce. They say they will only do that with reform to the country's immigration policy.
Jeff VanderWerff, a Sparta fruit and crops grower is one of the 500 delegates voting on policy positions here this week.
"We need a guest worker program that we can work with - that's the bottom line," says VanderWerff.
The current program, he says, is very cumbersome and costly, and threatens the labor needed to harvest the crops he and other Michigan farmers grow.
VanderWerff says cold weather killed most of Michigan's apple crop this year. Migrants who arrived to pick apples left early. Without immigration reform, he fears, they won't return when the harvest does.