Agriculture and immigration policy
A hard row to hoe
Georgia’s immigration bill will hit farmers where it hurts
Jun 16th 2011 | ATLANTA | from the print edition
The war on onions 洋葱之战
ATLANTA may sprawl, but drive a little way south or east and head off the main highways, and you will see that what really powers Georgia is not its biggest city, but its farms. Agriculture is the state’s biggest industry, employing 13% of the state workforce, and generating $11 billion a year at the farm level and $69 billion overall. In 2008 Georgia produced more broiler chickens, peanuts, pecans, rye and spring-harvested onions than any other state.
Most of those onions were Vidalias—a sweet variety grown in the sandy, low-sulphur soil of south Georgia, and protected by federal trademark. And most Vidalias are harvested by hand, by workers such as Edilberto, who came north from Mexico to work in the fields. He has picked onions and other crops in south Georgia for 16 years. His three children were born here. And this summer he plans to leave Georgia to look for work in North Carolina. He will not be alone.