From The Associated Press:
Wednesday, Oct. 05, 2011
ATLANTA — A farm labor shortage that left crops rotting in the fields after Georgia passed a law cracking down on illegal immigration shows the need for a retooled or expanded guest worker program for migrant laborers, Georgia’s agriculture commissioner told a panel of Washington lawmakers Tuesday.
Commissioner Gary Black testified at a Senate subcommittee hearing on immigration enforcement and farm labor that an informal survey showed farmers of onions, watermelons and other handpicked crops lacked more than 11,000 workers during their spring and summer harvest. Farmers say that’s because the Georgia immigration law scared off many migrant workers.
Financial incentives aimed at getting unemployed Georgians and even criminals on probation to take their place picking crops were marginally successful, Black said, because the new workers were too slow and often quit because of the strenuous labor involved.
“A robust agricultural guest worker program, properly designed, will not displace American workers,” Black said in remarks prepared for the hearing. “As my testimony shows, in Georgia, even with current high unemployment rates, it is difficult for farmers to fill their labor needs.”
Black said it’s still unclear how much the labor shortage will ultimately cost farmers. But one group says growers have already lost tens of millions of dollars. (more…)
Filed under: Arizona-copycat laws, immigrant community, Law Enforcement, Migrant Workers | Tagged: Georgia, Gary Black, Georgia Fruit And Vegetable Growers Association, Agricluture Commissioner, Charles Hal, onions, watermelons, bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, blueberries, blackberries, John McKissick | 3 Comments »