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Farmers say veto is misguided

Published: Aug. 19, 2013 at 9:48 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2013 at 9:48 PM EDT
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Bladen County blueberry farmer Ralph Carter, Jr. contends that seasonal migrant workers do farm...
Bladen County blueberry farmer Ralph Carter, Jr. contends that seasonal migrant workers do farm jobs that locals don’t want.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Leaders in the General Assembly are considering returning to Raleigh to overturn Governor McCrory's veto of a bill that would have made it easier for farmers to use seasonal workers.

The governor said it could take jobs from North Carolinians, but some farmers in our area disagree.

Currently, employers have 90 days to check their workers' immigration status using an online system known as E-Verify. House Bill 786 would have extended that period to nine months.

McCrory said he vetoed the measure to protect North Carolina jobs.

"I'm a firm believer in enforcing the immigration laws and giving North Carolina workers the chance for jobs first, especially when you (have) the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country," he said.

Bladen County blueberry farmer Ralph Carter, Jr. agrees with the governor's point but says that McCrory has his facts wrong.

Carter contends that seasonal migrant workers do farm jobs that locals don't want.

This year, he hired more than 300 people at his farm near White Lake.

When Carter joined his father in the farming business in 1980, most of the workers came from the community. These days, he contends, locals aren't interested.

"I'm afraid that some people may think that it is degrading, plus it is hands-on work," Carter said. "That's hot work, and you're working with your hands."

Agriculture leaders, including the N.C. Farm Bureau, are working to get the veto overturned. It could be done with a three-fifths vote in the house and senate.

Click here to see how local legislators voted on the bill.

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