October 8, 2011

KILLING YOUR ECONOMY RATHER THAN MIXING THE RACES:

Alabama Immigration Law: Worker-Strapped Farm Groups Doubt Prisoner Remedy (Dan Rivoli, October 7, 2011, IBD)

As a state with an economy based on agriculture, the exodus of skilled, Hispanic migrant workers has left Alabama crops unharvested, which has resulted in multi-million dollars losses. [...]

Jon Huffmaster, the Georgia Farm Bureau's legislative director, wouldn't criticize any proposal that addresses the labor shortage, but doubted its effectiveness.

Farm labor requires more than muscle and a need for work, Huffmaster told IBTimes. The work is grueling and laborers are in outdoors with temperatures reaching nearly 100 degrees.

"A lot of people have an idea that work on farms is no-skill labor, that anybody who just walks up can do it. That's just not the case," Huffmaster said. "You have to be able to keep up to move from field to field... That's some of the things we ran into when it came to the probationers."

Using probationers failed to address the farmers' labor problem. Georgia's agriculture commissioner told a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday that the program only produced a few reliable workers, and they weren't as productive as migrant workers, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution report.

There's also a pay problem that arises when using inmate labor, said Huffmaster. For farmers who pay a piecemeal rate-based on the amount harvested-inmates unaccustomed to farm work may be unable to make more than minimum wages.

"You have to be able to produce enough to get paid enough, or you're just going to get minimum wage and you're not getting a crop harvested," said Huffmaster.

The labor shortage has already caused an estimated $140 million in losses during Georgia's spring and summer harvest, according to an industry-funded study the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association released this week.



Posted by at October 8, 2011 6:12 PM
  

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