Georgia Governor Suggests Parolees as Solution to Immigrant Farm Labor Shortfall

Governor Nathan Deal says he's got an idea to fill the massive shortage of farm labor in Georgia and possibly prevent a major agriculture crisis in the state.

Georgia's new tough immigration law is being blamed for driving migrant field labor from the state and the governor's idea is to replace illegal immigrant workers with parolees from Georgia prisons.

Tremel Lewis makes a living with a lawn mower, but the convicted burglar says he'd give farming a try. He's willing to give any job a try.

"Everybody wants to do a background check once they run your background see what you've been locked up for nobody wants to hire you," said ex-convict Tremel Lewis.

Georgia farmers are complaining that the state's new tough immigration law has caused a major shortage of field labor.

With peach season on the door step, Governor Nathan Deal is proposing putting prison parolees to work on south Georgia farms -- workers like Tremel Lewis.

"Right now I'd go out there and do anything. I got nine kids, a fiancée. I got to go out and provide for my family to the best of my ability," said Lewis.

Governor Deal says quote "there are some 11,000 opportunities currently available in the agriculture community. I believe this would be a great partial solution."

South Georgia farmer Bill Willingham says right now farmers need the help.

"As long as we have labor that do a quality job for the same amount of pay, it's not any difference to us as long as you have help," said farmer Bill Willingham.

Lewis says he knows farming will be hard work, his dad picked peas to support his family.

"I used to wake up in the morning go with my dad and pick peas out in he field in Louisiana so I know how it is to be out in that hot sun," said Lewis.

Deal calls the suggestion a partial solution to the farm labor problem.

For more stories from WAGA in Atlanta go to

Follow us on
Like us at