7/21 – The Packer – Did Georgia law cause significant labor losses? – Crops & Markets

The Packer – Did Georgia law cause significant labor losses? – Crops & Markets.

Crops & Markets

A new immigration law in Georgia reduced the number of workers available for harvests this spring and summer, and a new survey will gauge the economic fallout from it.

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association has commissioned a survey of the state’s growers to determine how short of workers they were during 2011 harvests, and how it affected their ability to get crops harvested, said Charles Hall, executive director of the LaGrange-based association.

“There were significant labor shortages in Georgia this spring because of concerns over immigration issues,” Hall said.

Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, signed Georgia House of Representatives bill No. 87, which cracks down on illegal immigrants in the state, into law on May 13.

Within days, Hall said, growers were saying that harvest crews weren’t coming to Georgia because of the new law.

The association, which opposed the bill, predicted such an outcome in their efforts to convince legislators not to vote for it.

“What we said could happen, did happen,” Hall said.

Harvests of Vidalia onions, cucumbers, bell peppers, squash, watermelon and blueberries were among those affected by the loss of workers, Hall said.

In June, Gov. Deal announced there were 11,000 job openings in the Georgia agricultural industry.

For the survey, the association has commissioned John McKissick, former director of the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development at the University of Georgia.

Questionnaires will go to growers the week of July 25, Hall said.


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