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January 27--  A Washington lobbyist says Georgia is well positioned to have influence on farm issues in Congress.

Bob Redding addressed area farmers in Lyons as keynote speaker for the annual agricultural forecast sponsored by the University of Georgia. Toombs County Extension Service Agent Jason Edenfield welcomed the crowd to the Toombs Agri-Center.


"Everyone I talk to in agriculture is very excited.  Georgia is well placed with the nomination of Governor Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture.  He knows farming and we're looking forward to his hearing and moving forward.  

"We're also excited because we now have a Georgian (Zippy Duvall) as American Farm Bureau President.  Don't underestimate the importance of that to the commodities and the programs represented in this state as someone who can speak for us at hearings and that sort of thing.  That's a great place to be," Redding said.

Redding is hopeful the new administration will support reforms to the guest worker program to make it easier for farmers like those in the Vidalia Onion business to get labor when they need it.

"We're hopeful.  We have two tracks.  The legislative track where the President wants an immigration reform package and there will be something moving in the House we hope soon. 

"The other piece has to do with what the administration can do now.  That has to do with reform of the guest worker administrative regulations.  The Bush team did it, but it was repealed during the last administration and we would like to see that in some form back.  We want to see the Trump administration move soon in the Department of Labor on those guest worker regulations," he said.

Redding also told the farmers a bill has been introduced to move oversight of the guest worker program from the Department of Labor to the Department of Agriculture.