Georgia's new immigration bill might influence what state farmers can grow

Peaches.

Jeremy Hobson: To Georgia now where the criticism is pouring in after the state's governor Nathan Deal signed an Arizona-style immigration bill targeting undocumented residents. Tourism and convention officials in Atlanta fear it will lead to an economic boycott.

And there are concerns about the effect it'll have on farmers as Jeanne Bonner of Georgia Public Broadcasting reports.


Jeanne Bonner: Georgia's law requires businesses with 11 employees or more to use the federal "e-verify" system to make sure workers are legal. Officials in Georgia's agriculture industry are concerned about its impact on the workforce.

Charles Hall: You have to have the migrant worker, or else you can't get your crop in.

That's Charles Hall of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. Hall says without teams of migrant workers, farmers may switch from growing key Georgia crops like peaches and Vidalia onions to other produce that machines can harvest.

Hall: A row crop -- a cotton, a peanut, a soybean -- does not require the hand labor and the harvest labor that vegetables or peaches or blueberries do.

It's unclear how strictly the state will enforce the provision. But the bill's sponsor, Republican State Senator Matt Ramsey, says it removes the number one incentive that brings illegal immigrants to Georgia.

Matt Ramsey: That's access to jobs.

Some of the law's provisions take effect July 1.

In Atlanta, I'm Jeanne Bonner for Marketplace.

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