Power Breakfast: Immigration law causes labor shortage at Georgia farms, pay by cellphone, Georgia Power, Popeyes

AJC reporter Jeremy Redmon has written an interesting story about fallout from the state’s new immigration law:

Migrant farmworkers are bypassing Georgia because of the state’s tough new immigration enforcement law, creating a severe labor shortage among fruit and vegetable growers here and potentially putting hundreds of millions of dollars in crops in jeopardy, agricultural industry leaders said this week.

Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, said he has been in close contact with Labor Commissioner Mark Butler and Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black about the shortage, calling it the most severe he has seen. Hall said it’s possible state officials could hold job fairs to steer some of Georgia’s unemployed workers to these farm jobs, which pay $12.50 an hour on average. The state’s unemployment rate is now at 9.9 percent.

Farmers, however, say they often have little luck recruiting Georgia residents to work in their fields because it is temporary, hot and physically demanding. To recruit more workers, some farmers are offering signing bonuses, Hall said.

The law doesn’t take effect until July 1 but is already making migrant Hispanic farmworkers skittish, said Dick Minor, a partner with Minor Brothers Farm in Leslie in southwest Georgia who says he is missing about 50 of his workers now, threatening as much as a third of his crops.

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53 comments Add your comment

Sam I Am

May 27th, 2011
6:22 am

I don’t believe they pay $12.50, local cops don’t make that. Just more hype.


May 27th, 2011
6:49 am

A wife, couple kids, home in the burbs….and $12.50 an hour sounds pretty good to someone (me) who hasn’t been able to find steady work for over two years. Pathetic.


May 27th, 2011
6:59 am

I think the agricultural industry is just upset that their “slave” labor is about to go the way of the dodo bird. Sorry, but they’re going to have to play by the rules just like every other employer. As soon as the wages are right they will find workers. The article states that on average the pay is $12.50. So, I’m guessing, in reality, the pay is much less. Did the migrant workers pay taxes like every other legal worker in Georgia (I’m guessing it would be hard to file a tax return if your not a legal citizen) or did the farm owners take the taxes out for them (I’m guessing this didn’t happen either)??


May 27th, 2011
7:00 am

Looks like more propaganda from the media to me!


May 27th, 2011
7:01 am

I don’t believe for a minute that a grower would or could pay $12.50/hr–he would go broke in a week; even if he DID, that wouldn’t be enough for the white trailer trash, much less unemployed people with higher education. And forget it…the black field hands have done their time.
How about calling a summit of Redneck Governors (including that bleached blond from AZ) to come for a week of field work (in the literal sense of the term!). Goin’ a need a lot of sunscreen even for their already red necks!


May 27th, 2011
7:04 am

Even if this is true, the tax payers cannot afford to pay for Illegals health care, social security and schooling. When are you people going to quit trying?

South Ga

May 27th, 2011
7:08 am

I work in the agricultural arena and every one of you are idiots, I just hope every one of your grocery bills triple because farmers weren’t able to harvest their crops. How bout you people get off your fat behinds and go work in a field, I know you wouldn’t make it. PS, don’t throw the race card out there, how pathetic, this is about the ability to get food to market…


May 27th, 2011
7:09 am

Wow, only seven post in and we’ve already started the race baiting!


May 27th, 2011
7:16 am

Good. The law is working. The industries relying on illegals will adjust, and Georgians will have fewer illegals burdening our schools, hospitals, courts, and prisons.


May 27th, 2011
7:19 am

I bet if the government were to eliminate their “CHECK”, more Georgia residents would be willing to do this work ,or any other work for that matter. Georgia has hundreds of thousands of able bodied men and women who could do this work but won’t.


May 27th, 2011
7:19 am

Most of this article is BS. Most of the industries that use illegal immigrants pay less than minimum wage. Within the last 20 years I have seen illegal immigrants paid less than $100 dollars for a 60 hour week. If these Industries paid a fair wage they would have no problem finding legal workers. I live in south Georgia, and have been around many of these industries much of my life.

South Ga

May 27th, 2011
7:22 am

People like Ace and Guest have no clue what it takes takes to put commodities such as corn, peaches, or peanuts on a table to feed a family. That’s the kind of response you get when you live in the city and ride a vesper (moped).


May 27th, 2011
7:24 am

South Ga,

The benefit to you and consumers is FAR outweighed by other costs of massive illegal immigration. Your industry will simply need to adjust and one way will be raising prices so you can afford to pay a wage that attracts labor. No one is going to go hungry because we don’t have thousands of migrant workers on GA farms.


May 27th, 2011
7:28 am

South Ga,

We the tax payers can no longer afford to subsidize your business. And why are you people falling the trap of calling these people illegal immigrants. They are Illegal aliens!!!!!!!!!

Donna P.

May 27th, 2011
7:30 am

Who did the work before the illegals? Can’t the farmers go back to using those workers? I’m sure they can find locals who need a job.

South Ga

May 27th, 2011
7:31 am


I understand your point but my grandfather was a sharecropper when he was young and he was white. Now granted this was back in the 20’s and 30’s but the same principles still exist today but to a different extent. Someone coming from South America making a 2 dollars a day is happy to come to America making anywhere up to 10 dollars an hour depending on what equipment they can run. Most of the unemployed live in cities and most farms are in rural areas so this presents a logisitcal problem about putting people to work.


May 27th, 2011
7:42 am

Seabeau is right. Stop the unemployment extensions and people will start taking whatever job they can get. Also, I think this would be a good time to review prison labor. Those people already have their healthcare paid by the taxpayors. They should be made to work for it.

the watch dog

May 27th, 2011
7:52 am

I have the solution. Have the “Georgia Chain Gangs” pick the peaches. I remember zipping down I-95 and seeing these guys out beside the road working on projects.
I see this as a grand opportunity to restore the inmates dignity by doing honest labor and the citizens can see for themselves democracy in action.
I really like this idea. Now,paying the inmates $12.50 an hour would be a bit much, maybe 25 cents an hour, work 8 hours and they have a little walkin around money.
Now, the new new immigration law HB87 will not be an inconvenience[at least in the fields].

Tom E. Gunn

May 27th, 2011
7:56 am

More “SPIN” from the group that opposed the new law in the begining! Guess what? SCARE tactics won’t work! We(Residents of North GA) are MORE scared of the INVASION and OCCUPATION we live with EVERYDAY! (Not just in picking season) So whatever the cost, WE WANT OUR TOWNS, SCHOOLS, AND HOSPITALS BACK! When the “politicians” and media finally realize that, there may be room for comprimise, but AMNESTY is NOT compromise, and no matter what you choose to call it, ILLEGAL is still ILLEGAL!


May 27th, 2011
8:03 am

After reading the comments here I am now convinced that Atlanta is full of idiots.


May 27th, 2011
8:05 am

I work with the children of immigrants (most of the kids are American citizens). In our area the men are very hardworking. They want their kids to be educated, and they don’t want trouble. The kids generally outshine our white American kids, who have an entitlement mentality. Many of the white parents draw a check or two for “disability” which apparently means being morbidly obese.

After saying that, we have to stop the flow of illegal immigrants. They are a burden to much of our infrastructure. So are the ‘disabled” white folks who aren’t too disabled to have multiple children, or to let the American taxpayers foot the bill for many years.

It’s time for the farm industry, the chicken plants, and the carpet mills to “man up” and pay ALL the costs of their workers–wages, insurance, school fees, hospital/medical fees, etc–and stop expecting the rest of us to take care of their businesses.

Yes, illegal immigrants generally pay taxes. Around here the taxes are taken out of their pay at the chicken plant (they get a tax ID number) so taxes are taken out. And EVERYONE pays property taxes (if indirectly through rent) and sales taxes.

It is time for everyone living in the US to be held accountable for their decisions! The government (us) need to quit supporting non-workers, and give them an opportunity to achieve some true self-worth in providing for themselves and their families. Perhaps the farmers could supply housing for the workers who relocate to the area for the picking season. That might help solve the problem of workers being in one place but the farms being in another. At any rate, we cannot continue what we are doing now.


May 27th, 2011
8:05 am

Will gladly pay more for groceries, if it means my med bills won’t be 5 times what they should be, to cover the “free” care we have to give to folks who are here illegally. This is a great law, and is causing exactly the intended result.

mothers concerned

May 27th, 2011
8:11 am

I’ll take 12.50 an hour I’ve been out of work for 2 years now and went to a McDonald one day for the special they had I asked the girl for some more napkins she didn’t understand a word I was saying some one had to come over and tell her in Spanish what I had asked for. Now thats Pathetic

What ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 27th, 2011
8:15 am

There is no way your peanuts outweigh the massive cost of paying for illegals schooling, medical costs, food stamps. This is in the billions across the nation. I dont think people really care as much about your peanuts as they do keeping their homes, buying food for their families and putting clothing on the backs of their kids. And I know at least 10 teens that would love to make your 12.00 per hour harvesting your crops, however you dont pay that and a couple you turned down for employment. Guess they werent illegal and you cant work them 15 hours per day with no breaks. Thats called slave labor and its illegal just like the people you hire.


May 27th, 2011
8:16 am

Hey South Georgia, let me inform you of a simple economic reality. IF veggies and fruits go up 3 x, you really think people will be STILL putting them in their shopping cart? We’ll just buy the imported stuff. As far as I and a lot of other people are concerned, let the stuff ROT in the fields and next year maybe those farmers will go buy machinery that does what the Mexicans used to do. It’s a GLORIOUS day in this state and country that farmers and contractors have a harder time hiring illegals now.

From Where I Sit

May 27th, 2011
8:18 am


IF you are here in my country ILLEGALY, GET THE HELL OUT, and any of you protesters can go with them!!!!

Enough Said!


May 27th, 2011
8:30 am

These farmers thought everything was great by hiring these illegals and making big bucks, knowing full well they were illegal criminals ( you are a criminal when you illegally enter the US) so I don’t feel sorry for them one bit.

Pinche Huevos

May 27th, 2011
8:33 am

Thank all the idiots that voted for the republican idiots, just start eating tv dinners wihile the lawmakers eat filet mignion…losers…

Which Part Of Illegal Immigrant Is Hard To Understand?

May 27th, 2011
8:44 am

Here’s a simple solution…if lack of migrant labor makes the prices go up on produce, then DON’T BUY IT. Simple enough. I’m sick of paying taxes to support illegals and giving them education, housing, welfare, food stamps, medical care, etc. In the end, this HB will save us money!!! Get the message: “WE DON’T WANT NO STINKIN’ ILLEGALS HERE!!!”.


May 27th, 2011
8:51 am

Politicians who don’t support securing our borders and deporting ALL illegal aliens are just buying votes with citizens tax dollars.


May 27th, 2011
8:56 am

We have enough illegal aliens standing on street corners and at gas stations In Cobb County to pick the onion fields clean in a day. The truth is that they don’t stay on the farm once they are here – they then migrate to other areas and take over other industries’ jobs. And fill the schools with anchor babies who quality for free healthcare, benefits, etc. Very few employers provide a TIN number, most pay in cash. When taxes are taken out, they claim huge numbers of exemptions so nothing is taken out. And they then file for Earned Income Tax Credit – they are good at scamming the stupid US taxpayers.

So every year the growers import a new crop of illegals who do not go home after the growing season – they settle in and destroy neighborhoods in our formerly nice suburbs.

Georgia is not the only state that grows vegetables. Let them migrate to NJ, they have a large agriculture business and the liberals there will be very happy I assure you to take care of these wonderful hard workers. I’ll be happy to drive the bus for a one way ridel

Pinche Huevos

May 27th, 2011
8:57 am

get the rich to make campaign donations so we can pass laws to screw the working class, you get what you ask for.

Rick in Graysn

May 27th, 2011
9:02 am

I can’t wait for those employers that hire illegal aliens to lose their business licenses! Call authorities, ICE and complain that those employers are hiring illegal aliens!

We are all tired of subsidizing the “cheap” labor of those employers that hire illegal aliens.

We are all tired of politicians that put the interests of illegal aliens before those of US citizens and legal residents. Vote them out of office at the next election!

White Supremacist

May 27th, 2011
9:26 am

Yes! Kick them all out, and oh by the way, lets re-enact our beloved anti-misgenation laws! We are on our way back to the 1800s! Go whites!!

White Supremacist

May 27th, 2011
9:34 am

sorry got a little too excited!


May 27th, 2011
10:20 am

White Supremacist,

I see you’re using the tried-and-true strategy of calling your opponents “racist” when you don’t have a coherent argument. Good work!

Tom E. Gunn

May 27th, 2011
10:25 am

Why is it racist to support enforcement of our laws and borders? Again, stop the occupation, send them ALL home!


May 27th, 2011
10:35 am

The people who are here without papers pay their fair share of taxes, which are extracted from their paychecks before they receive it. The government takes their money and they never see a dime in return, the majority of them work under a special number assigned by the IRS, this allows them to pay their taxes, social security is also paid under this number and it is without a doubt that they will never see one thin dime of the money that they have paid to social security. Everyone is so quick to lay blame on the so called illegals, the issue is not really with these hardworking people, it is with a broken government that is way behind on human rights. I am a gay man who has been in a monogamous relationship with someone for 12 years, he is here from Mexico, I am a tax paying citizen and I am not afforded the same rights as my heterosexual counterparts, even though I am subjected to the same taxes as they are. While there are certain states that allow us to marry, it does us no good, as the marriage would not be recognized on a federal level and therefore I cannot even apply for residency or citizenship for him, I don’t care what your religious beliefs are, but if you think that what is going on in this country is okay, if you think that it is okay for the government to demand tax money from a group of its citizens while denying them equal rights under the law, it is only a matter of time before your rights are infringed upon. The truth is that the government doesn’t want to solve the immigration issue, illegal immigration is a billion dollar industry for them, everyone complains about paying for the poor illegals, we cannot afford the strain on the social programs, the truth is the immigrants that are here are not looking for a handout, they work hard, the strain on the system is caused by all of the dead beat Americans who refuse to get off their asses and go to work, I know plenty of white and black Americans who could benefit from one of those jobs, but they are allergic to sweat and to hard work, my hope is that the folks who are undocumented here up and leave, and the truth will be told in the toll that it takes on our local economy. For my partner and I, we are leaving, not just the state, we are planning to move to Spain, where our kind is accepted with open arms. This is an issue that impacts a lot of people, gay, straight, legal, illegal, this is a human rights issue!


May 27th, 2011
11:28 am

“Most of the unemployed live in cities and most farms are in rural areas so this presents a logisitcal problem”

That’s why we have cars and buses and trucks, to get people and things from one place to another.

And why aren’t we seeing tens of thousands of “help wanted” ads in the local papers and on the web? Are these farmers actually lifting a finger to recruit beyond the end of their driveways?

And I still get the impression that most illegal aliens are being paid under the table/ off the books so that, while US citizens have FICA and income extortion taken out, the illegal aliens have more of a problem with direct extortion and black-mail threats.

In either case, there are US citizens able and willing to do this kind of work. I’ve done this kind of work, as did my father and grand-father. A couple of my grand-uncles joined up with the migrant workers just to have an inexpensive way to travel around the country. We don’t need no illegal aliens to do farm work or construction work or meat-packing or fishery work or tech support or custom computer programming; we’ve got plenty of US citizens able and in need of the work.


May 27th, 2011
12:05 pm

@South GA, confirm this for me. All the ranting and raving about farm workers’ hourly pay is both correct and incorrect at the same time.

As I understand it, farm workers are generally paid on a per basket or per barrel basis, meaning that to a certain extent, they control their own pay. The quicker they work, the more they make. It’s a system that works because the farmers need their crops harvested and the workers need to move on to the next crop. Herein the $12.50 per hour average. Some make more, some make less.

My bet is that if our illustrious good old AMERICAN unemployed were even willing to go down and work the fields, they would either A) Quit before the end of the day, or B) never come close to earning $12.50 per hour because they would just be unwilling or unable to work as fast as was needed to get the job done.

Am I about right, SOUTH GA?


May 27th, 2011
3:12 pm

Maybe there is something wrong with their business model if the only people who are supposedly willing to do the work, are illegal immigrant vagabonds…


May 27th, 2011
4:53 pm

It would certainly cut into profits if farmers et al had to pay full price for their employees. I feel pretty annoyed when I see how these agribusiness getting subsidies IN Addition to their profits from sales. Talking about BIG bidness, not family farms.

Perhaps we should grow our own vegetables, if we can–food security, fresher, and cheaper (if you don’t count your labor).

Jim B

May 27th, 2011
9:44 pm

Pay a fair wage and hire Americans, I will gladly pay a few cents more for my peaches and onions. They get cheap labor and the rest of us are stuck with education, health care and food costs.

They have been using the cheap produce line for years, when was the last time you saw prices go DOWN on anything because of illegal immigrants taking American jobs??
Good job GA, I hope the rest of the states follow your example and stand up for the American taxpayer!!


May 28th, 2011
5:31 am

The movie The Grapes of Wrath comes to mind when I read these blogs. Growing up on a Farm I learned many lessons from my Mom and Dad. From milking cows, slopping the hogs, castrating sheep, shearing sheep, detailing sheep, hogs, cows whatever else, plus plant corn, shuck corn, detassel corn, hoe corn and beans in the fields, plus, dig potatoes, pick maters, pick beans, pick berries, hoe and hoe some more weeds, in the garden.. fix fence, cut hay, bail hay, plus come in and make breakfast, lunch and dinner, do laundry and take care of passel of kids,..and maybe have a little time to keep house..Farming is not easy and those who think it is are not thinking people.


May 28th, 2011
4:25 pm

A vast majority of the people came from the southern U.S. neighbours
were working very hard at the job site where the average Americans were
not the least interested to work. Now, even the legal residents are
leaving the State because they might be stopped by the police in the
wrong place for questioning. The farmers are going to suffer, and the
grocery store price for the vegetable will be going up. By driving out
the illegal immigrants and some of the legal immigrants, the unemployment rate of George is not going to drop anything notable.


May 28th, 2011
4:47 pm

What did our poticians expect? Lets cripple our bigggest state tax revenue. Genius. North Carolina and Florida must be ROfL at our business killiing bill. Anyone of any color put on legal payroll pays taxes. Anyone paid under the table is not desptie their origin. This bill encourages paying under the table. Let’s deport the people that don’t want to work and keep the one’s that do. If my memory is correct some of these politicains who pushed pandering to their base are very familar with bankruptcy.


May 28th, 2011
4:49 pm

The solution is simple, yet Congress won’t act. Since Congress authorizes the number of work permits, all it has to do is authorize 10,000,000 work permits. These foreignors come to this country … legally … and work.

We really need to ask Congress why it does not do this.

Could it be because if it did, these workers would be paid more thus costing the owners much more money?

BTW, these work permits could exempt them from US taxes and US Social Security. It all depends on how Congress were to authorize them.

Congress is the problem … and the solution! ! !


May 28th, 2011
8:38 pm

“Farmers, however, say they often have little luck recruiting Georgia residents to work in their fields because…”

That is blatantly untrue. I’ve lived nearly my entire life in this State and never once have I seen an attempt to recruit Georgia residents to work in fields.

“The law doesn’t take effect until July 1 but is already making migrant Hispanic farmworkers skittish…”

So we’re supposed to worry that people who are breaking the law are skittish. Or maybe we’re supposed to feel guilty that they fear getting captured and shipped back to Mexico.


May 29th, 2011
3:04 pm

While I agree with your sentiment, don’t make yourself sound ignorant by saying “buy a machine”. I would love to see a machine that could harvest onions.


May 30th, 2011
2:31 am

Woe is me! Well, load up that bunch of deadbeat neighbors and head south. We’ve got to eat!