We love our farm families here in Newton County. Our agricultural roots continue to run deep and ag activities still account for a substantial part of our economy.
We realize that farmers have it tough, their livelihoods subject to whims of weather even in the best of times.
But statewide, some growers have balked at Georgia's tough new immigration law, which takes effect July 1.
Growers claim that the measure will scare away Hispanic workers who are needed to harvest peaches and onions and other labor-intensive crops, according to an Associated Press report.
The measure may eventually require farmers to check a federal database to determine whether a worker is in the country legally and allows lawmen to check on the residency status of suspects who can't show proper identification, according to AP.
This is a tough law, but it needs to be. We are a nation of immigrants, but there are proper procedures to be followed so we can manage growth and not overwhelm our social services.
We urge Georgia farmers to embrace the law. It makes good business sense.
If some migrant workers are scared away, OK. Maybe wages need to be raised a bit to attract local workers. We may have to pay a bit more for our produce, but that's OK, too, if it means more money staying in the state and more jobs for state residents.
And if the state's ag interests are hard-pressed to find sufficient labor, they may want to consider Gov. Nathan Deal's proposal earlier in this week for hiring folks on probation to work the fields.
According to the Associated Press, there are about 100,000people on probation in Georgia. A pilot program putting probationers to work could be started up within a week.
We applaud the innovative thinking. Such a measure could easily make up for any labor lost to enforcing the immigration law. It's a good Deal.