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Legislature overrides veto of farm labor bill

The N.C. Legislature has overridden Gov. Pat McCrory's veto of a bill that Henderson County farmers would help ensure an adequate supply of labor to pick this season's bumper crop of apples.


The Senate voted overwhelmingly on wipe out the governor's veto one day after the House also quickly overrode the vetos on both bills McCrory had red-Xed.

"Despite some divisive, partisan rhetoric from special interest groups, the truth is most bills pass the General Assembly with broad, bipartisan support,” Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said in a statement. “These two bills are no different – they are a product of Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate working together to make a positive and lasting impact on our state.”
House Bill 786 protects North Carolina’s agriculture industry – which contributes more than $75 billion annually to the state’s economy and employs close to 20 percent of its workers – by removing a duplicative background check requirement on legal immigrant labor.

As recently as Tuesday night, Agricultural Henderson County CEO Mark Williams and cooperative extension director Marvin Owings had reiterated the need for the North Carolina farm bill, which extended from 90 days to nine months the time that farm laborers could work without needing an E-verify immigration check.

Williams told county commissioners Tuesday night that apple and blackberry farmers are already experiencing labor shortages as they pick this year's bountiful apple crop.

In a statement McCrory renewed his criticism of the bill that extended the farm worker exemption and said he would use his executive power to make sure employers don't exploit a loophole.

"House bill 786 triples the E-Verify seasonal worker exemption from 90 days to nearly nine months and has created a loophole that could cost legal North Carolinians jobs," he said. "This measure changes the law’s focus from exempting 'temporary seasonal employees' to help the state’s farming industry to exempting a category of employees for any industry, regardless of the season or the needs. Thus, I will direct the executive branch to explore all legal and executive authority to ensure the letter and spirit of our nation’s immigration law is followed in this state."