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January 2001, Volume 7, Number 1

Northeast, Midwest

Aroostook County, Maine has two large broccoli farms, and they employ primarily Mexican-born workers to harvest crops. In September 2000, one of the workers was diagnosed with tuberculosis and 47 others tested positive for the TB infection; the TB infection is not contagious.

Broccoli production began in Maine in 1981, and the state currently ships about two million cartons a year, with production peaking in September. Andy Ayers of Maine Packers of Caribou says that his company has 3,600 of Maine's 5,000 acres of broccoli. Broccoli production is concentrated around Presque Isle in Aroostook County.

The US Department of Education supports several migrant assistance programs in Maine, including Migrant Education for children up to 21, the High School Equivalency Program, or HEP, and funds to provide education and skills training to migrants with significant disabilities.

Enfield Shade Tobacco in Connecticut employs 300 workers, one-third local residents, to tend 164 acres of tobacco between April and October; the other two-thirds of the work force are from Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Guatemala. Some of the workers are admitted under the H-2A program, so that Enfield pays all workers $7.68 an hour and provides them with free housing.

The New England Farm Worker's Council, based in Hartford, provides services to 120 farm worker clients in Connecticut and Rhode Island each year. The FWC estimates that 25 percent of the 23,000 farm workers in Connecticut are unauthorized.

Ohio. Some 36 unauthorized workers were removed from Buckeye Egg Farm in northwest Ohio in November 2000. Buckeye Egg is Ohio's largest egg producer, with 15 million chickens inn several operations around the state producing four percent of US eggs. Buckeye was previously cited for substandard conditions for migrant workers.

Sharon Mack, "Broccoli headed for best-ever season; Maine ranks third in U.S. production," Bangor Daily News, September 9, 2000.