The Associated Press June 22, 2011, 5:25AM ET

Ga. puts probationers to work harvesting crops

Georgia is having mixed results with a new program replacing migrant farm workers with probationers.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal started the program after farmers complained a crackdown on illegal immigrants was scaring away the mostly Latino workers needed to harvest labor-intensive crops like blueberries and cucumbers.

The first probationers started work last week at a cucumber farm. Probationer Robert Dawson says he thinks the program is a good idea and farmers should have been hiring legal U.S. residents all along. But he was one of few to spend more than eight hours in the fields.

Crew leader Benito Mendez says most of the probationers wouldn't work a full day in the heat or keep pace with his Hispanic crews. He says on two days, all the probationers quit by mid-afternoon.


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