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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ga. Department of Agriculture's HB 87 research determines more research is necessary

Yesterday, the Georgia Department of Agriculture released a 189-page study about the ways in which immigration reform legislation has affected farm labor — a study that was actually mandated by HB 87, Georgia's controversial immigration reform legislation.

From September through December, GDA researchers — with the help of researchers from Georgia State and the USDA — surveyed and met with farmers in 138 of the state's 159 counties to figure out how the agriculture industry has been impacted by potential labor shortages and the like. Well, the study determined that immigration reform is having an impact on agriculture — "but results are inconclusive."

"As a result," the report says, "additional research should be repeated in 2012."

The researchers even mock themselves a little bit for the typically and predictably ambiguous findings:

“More research is needed.” Researchers are often criticized for including this statement in almost every study or report. The Department [of Agriculture] gathered the data in this study over the period of seven months. In order to serve the needs of decision makers, additional research is needed to understand the complexity of agriculture labor in Georgia. Research should include but not be limited to tracking employment
patterns, crop production cycles, labor needs by commodity and worker concerns.

The benefits of additional research will provide the state with a central repository of unbiased
agriculture labor data, the capability to measure impacts of labor programs, and the ability to respond
to future policy needs of the state.

Here's the "Report on Agriculture Labor: As required by House Bill 87" in its entirety.

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