Tomato Farmers Worried About Workforce

By: Deanna Bettineschi Email
By: Deanna Bettineschi Email

Their work force is dwindling, and they say it’s all thanks to the immigration law.

John Aplin knew the immigration law would affect his business, but he didn’t know to what extent.

“As expected as we have begun to harvest some of our crops, we are beginning to feel that it is going to be very difficult to get labor this year.” Farmer John Aplin said.

Before the law went into effect, Aplin said he had plenty of help in the field.
But concerns about what the law would do sent more than just illegal immigrants out of the state.

“We had an abundance of labor before the immigration law and our labor force is legal Hispanics.
But a lot of them left as well as the illegal because they didn’t know what this was all about.” Aplin said.

And it’s not just Aplin who is suffering.
Wiregrass extension agents say it's affecting farmers all over the state.

“There has definitely been a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not they will have as much labor to get their crops harvested.” Wiregrass Extension agent Neil Kelly said.

Aplin says it’s very difficult to find consistent experienced workers.

“We are not striving to do anything illegal. We do not want an illegal work force we want to stay within the law but we want the law to be workable too and the one that’s present is not.“

Aplin says the only way to fix the growing problem of labor shortage is to completely change the law.

“I would like to see the law repealed. I agree we need to have something done about immigration in the country, we have to control immigration to some extent.” Aplin said.

He believes starting over is the only way to save his company and many others from losing everything.

Aplin says since the immigration law is already in effect, he will learn from what’s happened this year, and prepare for the next harvest season.

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