July 12-- The state of Georgia is considering how it can start its own guest worker program.
Elected and state officials met in Vidalia Tuesday afternoon with onion growers and State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.
"We've got to have a guest worker program that works for all Georgia farmers. Whether that's at the federal level or a state-run guest worker program, that's what we're giving serious consideration. What are some reform measures that need to come in place quickly, that's what we're getting our heads together about," he said.
Black and State Attorney General Sam Olens were at the meeting at the Vidalia Onion Committee headquarters. Others included lawmakers from the Atlanta metro area, representatives of Governor Nathan Deal and Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, Senators Tommie Williams of Lyons and Jack Hill of Reidsville and Representative Delvis Dutton of Glennville.
Vidalia Onion farmer R.T. Stanley, Jr. says the new state immigration law makes it even more important that a workable guest worker program is enacted.
Commissioner Black agrees, "We have a broken program. We also have some opportunities to work with the federal government to perhaps delegate that to Georgia and let us do it. We have several negotiations going on right now and it's a little early to speculate how that's going to come out, but the universal agreement is that we have a broken guest worker program and we've got to fix it."