There appears to be a shortage of workers again this year to pick Georgia’s prized Vidalia onion crop. Though Georgia’s HB 87 immigration law is still blamed, the shortage appears to be from legal workers. 11Alive/WXIA reports:
For years, Stanley had depended on mostly Hispanic migrant workers to harvest onions. Last year, Stanley says, many of those workers left Georgia following the state’s passage of a tough new immigration law. This is the first harvest since that law took effect.
This year, Stanley and other onion farmers began using a federal guest worker program called H2A. It basically imports workers from countries like Mexico, and then sends them back when the work is finished.
“I had ordered 60 people (via H2A) with the paperwork and everything,” Stanley said. But Stanley says the government botched his request for sixty guest workers.
“And now I’ve only got seventeen people when I’m supposed to have sixty. The excuse they gave me was, they lost my paperwork,” Stanley said.
My gut still tells me that HB 87 is aggrivating the age old dividing line between rural South Georgia and urban/suburban Atlanta. Yet with the Atlanta region still growing and South Georgia’s population shrinking, I wonder how much longer anyone in the seats of power in Atlanta will even pretend to care.