Farmers in one of Alabama’s leading agricultural areas asked legislators Monday to make emergency changes to the state’s tough new law against illegal immigration, saying millions of dollars of crops are at risk in coming weeks because of a sudden lack of hands for harvest.
The lawmakers said they can’t do anything to the law right now, and it may be months before it can be changed.
About 50 growers packed a truck-stop dining room 45 miles north of Birmingham. They pleaded with three north Alabama lawmakers to amend the law and save what they called the lifeblood of the state’s agriculture operations: The Hispanic workers who pick vegetables, gather chickens from poultry houses, pull sweet potatoes out of the ground and make the cardboard boxes that hold produce.
Those workers are leaving the state because they are intimidated by the law and without them, acres and acres of crops will be wasted, the farmers said.
. . . Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Wayne Walker said state officials fear it could cost tens of millions of dollars in losses if farmers can’t find enough help for harvesting. Tomato growers in east Alabama already are suffering because the law scared away the people who normally pick their crops, he said.
Will these farmers remember? Will there be political blow-back for this irresponsible legislation?