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Ga. cutting funding for farming visa workers

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Posted at 12:48 PM, Jan 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-23 07:56:55-05

ATLANTA (AP) - After cracking down on illegal immigrants, Georgia may eliminate a program meant to help farmers navigate the complicated process for getting visas for migrant laborers.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal's budget plan calls for cutting $150,000 in funding for two liaison positions at the Department of Agriculture. The employees were supposed to work as go-betweens, helping farmers use federal programs that grant visas to migrant laborers.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black proposed starting the liaisons after Georgia passed a law targeting illegal immigrants. Farmers complained they were having difficulty attracting workers, especially to harvest labor-intensive crops like fruits and vegetables.

Agriculture department spokeswoman Mary Kathryn Yearta said the pilot program was cut as the agency sought to trim its budget by $1 million. She said results did not meet desired outcomes.