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Chicago Matters: A Season Without Migrants

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What would happen if there weren't enough farm workers to work Illinois farms? 

That prospect has a lot of Illinois farmers worried these days.

The state has 73, 000 farms…producing 28 million acres of fruits and vegetables a year.

Machines pick a lot of the corn and soybeans the state is known for.

But specialty crops—like berries and peppers—also play a big part in the state's agriculture economy.

And those crops are hand-picked, mostly by Mexican men…at least 32,000 a season.

But their numbers are dwindling.

As part of our Chicago Matters: Beyond Borders series, Chicago Public Radio's Michael Puente looks at what it would take for Illinois farmers to have the hands they need.

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