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Georgia’s Plan to Rid Farms of Workers Backfires

(A new law, House Bill 87, aims to get rid of illegal immigrants in Georgia. Lawmakers are surprised that it’s doing just that, getting rid of illegal immigrants in the state. This was a plan that wasn’t completely thought through as it now is causing undue harm to farmers across the state.

Now that there is a shortage of workers, since illegal immigrants have been forced out, there is a plethora of untouched unharvested crops rotting in our fields, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Georgia’s largest industry has been drastically affected because of the lack of workers’ rights in Atlanta and elsewhere throughout the state.
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Our Georgia workers compensation lawyers recognize that just two weeks after the bill was put into effect, farmers were already feeling the negative side effects from the change and grew infuriated by the impact this new law and regulation has had on their livelihood.

After the uproar, an investigation was conducted to assess the damages. More than 200 farmers were surveyed by the Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. The results of this survey conclude that farmers will need more than 11,000 workers to finish out the season. This may only be a fraction of the need as not every farmer was surveyed.

“The agriculture industry is the number one economic engine in Georgia and it is my sincere hope to find viable and law-abiding solutions to the current problem our farmers face,” Deal said in announcing the findings. In the meantime, Deal proposes that farmers try to hire the 2,000 unemployed criminal probationers estimated to live in southwest Georgia.

There are more than 6,300 unclaimed jobs that reportedly pay out between $7.25 and $8.99 an hour. There are another 3,200 jobs that reportedly pay $9 to $11 an hour. Even though our agriculture commissioner has been quoted as saying that Georgia farms need to pay anywhere between $12 and $18 an hour for these jobs, the survey reports that just under 200 job openings out of more than 11,000 reward workers with $16 or more.

On top of low wages, less than 8 percent of these are offered health insurance. A third of these employees are offered workers compensation.

Still, the Governor aims to seek “viable and law-abiding solutions” for this problem that he helped to create. Many believe that he plans on doing anything but. Many worker advocates believe that if this solution were plausible, it would have been in place a long time ago.

Many believe that Georgia is going to have a hard time getting out of this one. If they were to attempt to alleviate these shortages by offering better paying positions, then the cost of the crop would have to be increased as well. This price increase would put them at a disadvantage against their competitors. States without such tough immigration laws would be able to keep the prices of their crops down. That’s one of the major disadvantages of having a government that tries to implement immigration reform state by state, rather than all at once.

Farmers are losing their workers, their crops and their profits. Some may even lose their farms. This could prove to be a major disadvantage for the already economically embattled rural Georgia.

There was a federal court challenge filed last week.

It is estimated that more than 3 million people work on more than 2.3 million farms and ranches in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, work-related health problems and on-the-job accidents killed nearly 1,500 people each year. These incidents also result in more than 120,000 injuries each year. Many of these accidents are believed to be preventable.

Farm workers who are injured on the job should contact a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers as an Atlanta personal injury law firm is able to help to protect your rights.

The lawyers at the Law Offices of J. Franklin Burns, P.C., have the experience to help you gain the benefits you are entitled to under the Georgia workers’ compensation program. Call for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 1-404-303-7770.

More Blog Entries:

OSHA Launches Photography Contest to Increase Awareness of Work Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere, Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog, May 25, 2011

Summer Months Raise Concern for Heat-related Work Injuries in Georgia
, Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog, May 16, 2011