Immigration/agriculture rally set for Thursday

Organizer Amy Allman of Blount County’s Allman Tomato Co. confirmed yesterday that the Agribusiness Center meeting to highlight effects on agriculture of the new immigration law is planned to proceed as originally announced during early planning stages last week. The meeting is set for Thursday, Oct. 20, at 10:30 a.m.

Agricultural representatives from several counties are expected to attend, Allman said, but she was unable to estimate what the turnout might be. “Many people from many counties and areas of agricultural have said they would come, but I just don’t know what to expect,” she said.

State Rep. Elwyn Thomas, representing two thirds of Blount County, will moderate the meeting. Jeremy Oden, representing the remainder of the county, will also attend.

Several are expected to speak for various components of agriculture. So far, it has been determined that Jeremy Calvert of Cullman will speak on behalf of fruit and vegetable growers. Dennis Mazes of Snead will comment on the impact on the poultry industry. Mel Wade, Southern States Co-op manager, will speak as a member of the category of agricultural suppliers.

Organizers hope to create a picture of the immigration law’s impact on agricultural labor, and thus on the viability of growers and the health of the entire agricultural sector of the economy, translating ultimately to higher prices for food products to consumers. They hope that by highlighting problems, they will focus lawmakers’ attention on the need to alleviate such unintended consequences.