State Budget Cuts Impeding Georgia’s Agriculture


-Athens, GA A new state budget has immigrant farm workers worried about where their next paycheck will come from. Jeffrey McNair has been running around all morning to find out more.

Each morning immigrant workers gather in front of this shelter in front of Home Depot on Epps Bridge Parkway hoping that someone will come by needing workers. But a recent budget cut proposal is eliminating the assistance that a farmer gets in order to help secure their workers have visas.

“Got friends that the police stopped [from working] and he doesn’t have a criminal record in any way and was sent to Mexico. Now the families need help with their houses, children don’t have fathers and mothers without jobs,” says one immigrant worker.

The Agricultural Commissioner whose office proposed the cut says that the two liaison positions were not making enough to difference to justify keeping them.

Some farmers say that many of their fields will be empty because they’re afraid that they won’t be able to find enough workers when harvest season comes around.

Others agree with the Commissioner’s office because there will always be immigrants looking for work regardless of their legal status and they will hire them. Immigration Attorney Alex Halow says that either way the legal process for hiring workers is just too complicated.

“The way the system works,” says Halow, it’s just a maze of regulations and its just a lot for anybody to have to go through and I think for these farmers it’s a question of being too expensive and too difficult for them to get in the workers that they need.”

-Jeffrey McNair