Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) said last week that Peach
State farmers should consider hiring people on probation to work fields once
tended by immigrants. His suggestion was in reaction to farmers' complaints
that the state's strict new law targeting illegal immigrants was scaring away workers.
Growers say they rely on those workers to harvest labor-intensive crops like
peaches and berries, which are easily damaged by machines, but can find few
U.S. citizens willing to work in hot, dusty fields. Probation officials say the
state has around 15,000 unemployed people on probation. Deal declined to answer
questions on the issue at a recent news conference on an unrelated matter, but
he issued a written statement that called the possible use of the probation
labor pool "a great partial solution to our current status as we continue
to move towards sustainable results with the legal options available."
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