The Agricultural Commissioner of Georgia, Gary Black, released a report this week documenting the effect of HB 87 on Georgia’s agricultural economy. The report notes that the state’s agricultural industry is the “top economic driver.” Specifically, this amounts to $68 billion of Georgia’s total $786.5 billion.
I don’t think any of us are really surprised with this report says, namely that this huge economic engine for the state of Georgia has suffered because of that state’s immigration law targeting Latino ag workers. Various reasons are given for these losses, which affected 1 out of 4 of the state’s agriculture workers, but ultimately these changes came about because of the law.
The “Report on Agriculture Labor” had one gaping hole in its gathering of information: no one talked to the actual agriculture workers. Rather, the report interviewed “a random sample of individuals throughout the agriculture industry,” who gave answers to survey questions, and their comments are reproduced within the report.
Some of the report’s principal findings include:
- Respondents are not familiar with, or don’t like, the federal H-2A visa program, and are not satisfied with the Georgia Department of Labor’s recruiting efforts.
- There is a preference for hiring local workers and using word-of-mouth to hire them.
- Labor–intensive crops reported the biggest economic losses due to lack of available workers.
- 26% of respondents reported a loss of income due to the lack of available workers.
- These losses are estimated at $10 million.
What was very interesting in the report are comments from the respondents:
- The people would not come to Georgia from Florida because of Bill 87
- domestic American workers do not want to do farm labor – there was a shortage of Hispanic workers made worse by HB 87
- WE HAVE ALWAYS FILED ALL PAPERWORK CORRECTLY WITH DOCUMENTATION…HOWEVER OUR EMPLOYEES ARE INCREASINGLY FACING DISCRIMINATION / RACIAL HARASSMENT FROM THE POLICE, SCHOOLS, AND CITIZENS. HOW COULD I RUN A BUSINESS WITHOUT SKILLED WORKERS IF I LOSE MY CURRENT EMPLYEES? I DONT SEE A RUSH OF STUDENTS IN THE AGRICULTURE PROGRAMS OF AMERICA.
- Georgia needs a program to make my ILLEGAL workers Legal workers. Identify them, register them, charge them a fee, place requirements on them, and then let them work. No citizenship; they don’t want or need it. I could not operate without these foreign workers. I have worked these same guys for 7-10 years now. They are very loyal and hardworking. I have had some leave because of fear. Please continue to work for a guest worker program. My needs are 12 months/year.
- I am sick about how our state is treating the immigrant population
- Relying on American workers to work in the field is a JOKE!!