Georgia farm officials are investigating complaints from farmers claiming that the state is suffering from a major farm labor shortage. The shortage comes on the heels of the passage of a tough immigration bill signed by Governor Nathan Deal.
The cause of this labor shortage, many farmers say, is Georgia’s new immigration law, which officially goes into effect on July 1. The bill targets illegal immigrants, allowing law enforcement to check the immigration status of individuals without identification as well as penalizing use of fraudulent identity documents with felony charges. In addition, the bill punishes businesses that use illegal labor and makes it a felony to arbor or transport illegal immigrants.
While supporters of the bill say that only illegal immigrants have to worry, many farmers say that the bill is shrinking their labor force and even legal immigrants are being frightened away. Agriculture currently generates over $1 billion in revenue for the state and is a major part of the Georgia economy. Many farmers report not having the manpower to fully harvest their crops, with one farmer claiming that he’s only been able to harvest 30% of typical harvests. Some estimate that labor shortages could cost the state about $300 million in lost revenue.
Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black will report the findings of his investigation by June 10.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer