Mon., January 23, 2012 3:42pm (EST)

Ag Forecast Shows Labor A Problem
By Josephine Bennett
Updated: 3 years ago

MACON, Ga.  —  
Farmers and others listen to Ag Forecast at the Georgia Farm Bureau in Macon (photo Josephine Bennett)
Farmers and others listen to Ag Forecast at the Georgia Farm Bureau in Macon (photo Josephine Bennett)
Agriculture experts from the University of Georgia, Georgia Farm Bureau, and Georgia Department of Agriculture are traveling the state this week. They’re unveiling the 2012 Agriculture Forecast, but the main concern on farmers’ minds is labor.

Times are good for Georgia agriculture. Despite a lingering drought, prices for many commodities are up. But farmers are still struggling to find people to pick their crops since tough immigration rules have gone into effect.

Bob McLeod farms peanuts, cotton, pecans and cantaloupe in Wilcox County. While attending the presentation in Macon, he says this year he may plant more crops that need machines, rather than people, to harvest.

“I’m even looking at not growing cantaloupes this coming year because of the labor issues. So, we haven’t quite made that decision if we will grow again or not grow again.”

McLeod says the federal H2A guest worker program does not work for small farms like his. Just 33 producers in Georgia use it.