The two issues Southeast vegetable and specialty crop producers want and need assistance with the most are labor and imports. Georgia farmers and industry leaders made sure Senator Raphael Warnock heard their concerns on Wednesday.
The U.S. Senator visited South Georgia as part of a farm tour that stopped at Minor Brothers Farm in Leslie, Georgia. Along with Congressman Sanford Bishop, Warnock heard from producers about the impact that imports from Mexico are having on various commodities, including cucumbers and squash. Both crops are the focus of separate U.S. International Trade Commission Section 332 investigations that will be heard on April 8.
“The message is we still have issues we’ve got to deal with,” Georgia farmer Dick Minor said. “As they say, if you’re not at the table, you might be on the menu. We are constantly trying to get in front of our leaders and express what our issues. Today we’re going to talk mostly about labor and trade. Those are the two biggest issues in specialty crops.”
The House has already passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which offers reform to the current H-2A program. The bill has been sent to the Senate.
“Obviously, the H2A bill they have in front of Congress. We need to tweak those a little bit to help us,” Minor said. “The trade issues we’ve got with cucumbers and squash in front of the ITC that we’re going to try to get some help with Mexican imports that are coming in much cheaper than our products and affecting our markets. Those are the two main things we want to talk to him about today.”
Warnock expressed a desire to learn more about the No. 1 industry in Georgia.
“I chose to be here to focus on agriculture. I hope that signals to you how important this issue is to me,” Warnock said. “I’m here to hear from you. You can’t represent folks without talking to them.”