One silver lining to the ongoing economic downturn might come in the form of willing farm workers. An article in the July 11 edition of USA Today says former agricultural workers who left for higher-paying jobs in construction or other industries are returning to farms as those jobs dry up.

Labor-intensive agricultural operations, including feedyards and dairies have had difficulties hiring enough workers in recent years, largely due to competition from other employers during times of high employment rates. The article cites the president of AgWorks, an employment company that helps employers find and hire workers, and assists with securing visas and permits for foreign workers. The source says three times as many applications are from U.S. workers this year compared to last.

Many of the applicants seeking agricultural work are former farm workers who left for other jobs in a better economy, but sources in the article say significant numbers who never worked on farms are seeking agricultural employment after being laid off from factories or other businesses.