Immigration Law Causes Labor Shortage for Georgia Farmers

By: Bethany Gillis Email
By: Bethany Gillis Email

House bill 87 requires employers in Georgia to prove legal status for ten or more employees. The law has created a severe labor shortage and is already costing millions.

"it has impacted us, we do grow some vegetables here and we're having some problems harvesting them,” agriculture extension agent Brian Cresswell said. “It’s one of those situations where if they can't get them in a timely manner, they just lost that revenue period,” he said.

Finding legal workers for farmers is difficult because of the low pay and lack of benefits.

"Labor is always a challenge in agriculture, so has it accentuated and it’s bringing a lot of attention to it.'

The negative consequences of the new bill have taken state officials by surprise, but Georgia's agriculture commissioner seems optimistic

My hope is when we conduct this study that uh that maybe there are two or three solutions that nobody's ever dreamt of. Maybe somebody will say hey if we just do this that it might find a solution for the producers.

Ag Extension Agent Brian Creswell says he knows a farmer who's crop will be taking a major hit this year, but is also confident in the future.

"I think we will get this worked out, but i don't think they thought the ramifications would be nearly as big as they are,” Cresswell said.

Two-hundred and thirty farmers responded to questionnaires sent out by the agriculture commission. The survey showed the farming industry is more than eleven-thousand workers short.

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