Farmers meet with state, federal officials on agriculture

TY TY, GA (WALB) - The "Back to the Roots" tour continues for Georgia State Senator David Perdue and former Georgia governor and current United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. The two met with farmers, foresters, and researchers in the agriculture industry Friday.

"They are both working with Democrats and Republicans to try to bring what's best to agriculture back to our community," said Bill Brim.

Brim is the president of Lewis Taylor Farms, where he hosted a roundtable discussion with Senator David Perdue and Secretary Sonny Perdue.

"It allows us to give the right information to them to for them to carry back to Washington to allow us to better perform down here as agriculture growers and farmers," said Brim.

"We think this is what representative government is all about. The United States senator and secretary of agriculture to listen to what trade, labor issues, regulations, and those kinds of things, " said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Brim said that labor is one of the biggest problems his farm faces. They currently operate under an H2A program where immigrants are housed and transported to work on the farms.

"We've been doing this since 1997 so we know the program, we know how to do the program. It allows us to continue to grow our businesses because we have an asset of labor that we can depend on," said Brim.

He said the program is too expensive and they are in need of more resources for labor.

"We know that we need a legal guest worker program here. We are just not able to harvest the crops here, particularly this type of segment with vegetables. It really comes down to the mantra that we are either going to import labor to harvest, or import our food," said Secretary Perdue.

Some other problems discussed were the whitefly issues, and how the University of Georgia hopes to work with the US Department of Agriculture to fund a solution.

"If we don't, they vector viruses in all our crops, so once they vector that virus then it destroys that crop and we cant harvest it," said Brim.

The senator and secretary made stops in Bonaire and Forsyth, Georgia. They also took a tour of the UGA Griffin Campus science facility.

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