Agriculture officials surveyed 800 farmers under a provision in the immigration law. Farmers said migrant workers began leaving last spring. Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said the report found that farmers had about $10 million in direct crop losses because of the law.
While agriculture profits are up 28 percent nationally this year to just over 100 billion dollars, Georgia farmers are experiencing more mixed results. Georgia’s extended drought has challenged key crops this year. In 2010 Georgia led the nation with 44% of peanut crop yields. But according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Georgia peanut production slid by 18% this year
Georgia’s soybean growers have a new nuisance to deal with: the so-called “kudzu bug.” The insects seem to control the growth of the invasive kudzu plant, but they also like soybeans, a $76 million crop last year in Georgia. The “kudzu bugs” invade fields by the thousands and feed directly on the plants’ stems.
Small agricultural businesses in Georgia and the South can get money to help sell their products abroad through a program with the Southern U.S. Trade Association. The group began accepting applications in August for federal money that will pay up to half of companies’ marketing costs to expand their exports.
A Georgia Department of Agriculture survey has revealed a shortage in farm labor. But the question is, why aren't those jobs filled? The farmers surveyed report a need for 11,000 workers this year. That’s despite a state unemployment rate of 9.9 percent.
Governor Nathan Deal has asked the federal government to declare 22 counties disaster areas because of drought conditions. Deal made the request in a letter sent last week to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Deal said the drought, beginning in December, has caused extensive damage to crops.