Immigration Reform’s Impact On Alabama Agriculture

Immigration Reform’s Impact On Alabama Agriculture

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ORANGE BEACH, Alabama -

Commissioner of Agriculture and Industry John McMillan might be around awhile longer.  He officially announced his intention to run for a second term this morning in Orange Beach.  In his first term he's had to deal with the impact of the state's immigration law.  He says most of the large producers are coping with it.

 "With either providing housing facilities or enough legal workers to handle their annual seasonal work," says McMillan.  Smaller producers are being hit harder with a loss of some of their labor force.   McMillan says he's not sure if the law has overall hurt or helped the state and he's equally cautious about immigration legislation in Washington. 

"We've got to secure the boarders we've got to do something about the 11 to 12 million illegals that are in this country and we've also got to address the legitimate need for need for legal seasonal workers," says McMillan.  The need for seasonal workers ties in to how big agriculture is in Alabama.  The Cooperative Extension Office released a study saying agriculture and forestry accounts for more than 70 billion dollars in economic activity and 22 percent of all Alabama jobs.

"Not only focusing on attracting smoke stacks, manufacturing, but we compliment that with growth in agriculture and forestry industries, they are the mainstays of our state's economy," says the Director of Alabama Cooperative Extension Gary Lemme. 

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