Farmers Consider Planting after Crackdown On Immigration
It is not clear whether Alabama and Georgia farmers will experience employee shortage because of the tough new immigration laws that target undocumented workers. However, several producers say they have started to change their plans for planting and harvesting crops for this year.
Several farmers have revealed that they intend to limit the number of acres they plant or move towards less labor-intensive crops. Others are preparing for higher labor costs and have started to employ new recruiting tools to attract farm workers.
Charles Hall, the executive director of Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, said, “We’re expecting some shifts, but it’s a bit too early to tell.”
Georgia and Alabama have enacted immigration laws with tough enforcement provisions which farmers say are scaring migrant workers away.
Since the laws were passed last year, labor shortages were reported by farmers in both states. They say migrant workers did not show up and they say they cannot find other workers to fill the vacant jobs. Farmers and state officials revealed that some produce rotted in the field last year because there were not enough workers to help with the harvest.
Farmers are saying that most legal workers do not actually want to fill the vacancies. Some say, however, that the real issue is that the farmers are reluctant to offer higher wages to attract U.S. citizens to work in the farm.
Brett Hall, the deputy agriculture commissioner in Alabama, said that nurseries across the southern section of the state are looking for workers to fill about 2,000 vacant jobs ahead of the growing season in spring.