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Aaron Gould Sheinin

Georgia congressmen call on feds to act on farm worker backlog

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A worker stakes tomato plants at Osage Farms in Dillard Georgia. Vegetable farming is a labor intensive process, employing hundreds of seasonal workers . Georgia farmers this year say the federal government's backlog on approving migrant workers threatens their crops. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

A worker stakes tomato plants at Osage Farms in Dillard Georgia. Vegetable farming is a labor intensive process, employing hundreds of seasonal workers . Georgia farmers this year say the federal government’s backlog on approving migrant workers threatens their crops. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

A bipartisan group of Georgia congressmen has called on the U.S. Department of Labor to act on a massive backlog of applications for migrant farm workers.

Ten of Georgia’s 14-member U.S. House delegation, along with U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue asked Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to expedite visa applications Georgia farmers have filed “before our fruit and vegetable industry suffers irreparable damage.”

The letter, sent Thursday, came two days after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the federal agency is months behind in processing farmers’ applications for seasonal workers from Mexico. Read the letter here.

The delays have threatened to cost farmers millions of dollars in lost revenue as crops sit unpicked.

“The backlog has placed Georgia’s fruit and vegetable industry, as well as our state’s rural communities in jeopardy,” lawmakers wrote. “We ask that the necessary steps be taken to expedite these applications so Georgia farmers can continue to provide their products to American consumers.”