Georgia Immigration Reform Puts Farms At Risk

by Christopher Paul on June 1, 2011

Well done, Georgia!

In a quick fit of ignorant fear (perhaps a bit of rage), you just cost your agricultural business an estimated 25-30% of their annual profits thanks to your immigration reform bill.

“Growers say that the improving economy and a consequent slight rebound in construction could be siphoning some of the mostly Hispanic workforce they usually depend on. Some workers likely went home as the long recession dragged on, they say.

But the primary reason workers aren’t coming to Georgia, growers say, is the legislation.

“I know a lot of crew leaders,” said Jason Clark Berry of Blueberry Farms of Georgia. “Everyone I’ve talked to from Vidalia to Baxley, where my farm is, down through Homerville has said the exact same thing. People are afraid to come.””

Normally, migrant workers start in Florida and move north as the seasons change and different crops become ripe for picking. But with workers fearing Georgia, they’re bypassing the state and moving northward leaving farms scrambling to fill their work shortage. Some estimates put that at half their normal work rate.

So legislators and farmers are working overtime to figure out a better way. From the article, it sounds as if changing crops might be the easiest for the farms. Of course, no one talks about what that downstream effect might be like; might might be a while before this affects the average consumer’s wallet if at all.

But this should be a warning to other states looking to create such laws – the law of unintended consequences might just be stronger and supersede any immigration reform laws passed.

Georgia immigration reform bill stresses growers – CNN via @pourmecoffee

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