Tough season impacts farm workers

Local News

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — A slow planting season for farmers is continuing to impact the area, especially for seed corn, which has to go through a de-tasseling process. Those de-tasseling jobs are usually filled by students or migrant workers. That work should have started in late-June to mid-July, but most fields are just now getting started.

“Just like with our regular field corn across this area, a lot of that got planted really late, much later than normal,” said University of Illinois Extension Commercial Agriculture Educator Dennis Bowman.

It’s a story you’ve heard before: farmers running behind. And it’s a story we’ll likely be hearing for months to come.

“That’s gonna push things later in here towards the end of July and the first part of August in some fields.”

That push-back is affecting more than just farmers. It’s also changing the timeline for field workers. Both migrants and students typically fill those roles, but with the task being pushed closer to the school year, it may be out of the question for students.

“That is gonna close down some of that window that some of the youth and students have that have these summer jobs.”

That means more work for migrants, which they thought they could finish quickly.

“Now it looks like a longer amount of time because they haven’t finished all the work that they have to do,” said Ashley Garcia with the Multicultural Community Center in Rantoul.

Along with those migrant workers, come their children and families.

“With school starting, or right around the corner, most likely schools around the area are going to be impacted with a bigger enrollment than they usually are with migrant children,” said Garcia.

But they’ll be staying until their work is done. Farmers hope it’s sooner rather than later.

The rainy spring also means less money for migrant workers. Put simply, if the fields aren’t ready for work two days out of the week, workers will miss out on those days of pay. Seed companies are also facing issues. They’re the ones who pay for migrant workers to have a place to stay. A longer season means they’ll be paying for migrant workers to be housed for a longer period of time.

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