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Posted: June 17, 2011 12:00 a.m.

A tough summer for Georgia farmers

2011 will be known as "the year agriculture went out in Georgia."

Crops are going to rot in the fields for lack of farm workers.

That's a possibility of Georgia's new immigration law, which, among other things, lets police check the immigration status of suspects who don't show proper ID and to turn over anyone found to be here illegally to federal authorities.

Georgia growers have said that the law will scare away Hispanic migrant workers.

For lack of farm workers, farmers are going to lose money. Lots of money. Money that would have gone into their local economies.

They won't buy as many cars or clothes, go out for dinner or rent a cabin in the north Georgia mountains for vacation.

People who sell cars, clothes, or work in movie theaters, restaurants and department stores are going to be affected as well. They will work shorter hours if not lose their jobs entirely.

People who lose their jobs pay fewer taxes, and less buying means fewer sales taxes.

Local governments will have less tax revenue. Less tax revenue means local governments will provide fewer services and employ fewer people.

And that starts off another cycle of loss of revenue for local governments as well as local merchants, in turn producing more unemployment.

Did I mention that your food prices are going to be going up as well?

Just a little something extra from the Georgia Legislature.

The governor wants to put probationers to work on farms.
That is every-job-looks- easy-if-you-have-never-done-it type thinking.

Harvesting crops requires judgment, dexterity, speed and endurance.

The governor and members of the state legislation should spend a full day harvesting crops, with no special privileges. Those who make it to the end of the day can be judged on how much they harvest, compared to a skilled farm worker.

Then we need a special session of the legislature to repeal Georgia's immigration law and make it a crime to check someone's immigration status. Let's save agriculture, one of the working parts of Georgia's economy.

Patrick Durusau is a Covington resident whose columns run on Fridays.

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