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Sweet potato workers and their impact

Reported by: Susan Parker
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Updated: 11/04/2013 11:36 pm
VARDAMAN, Miss. (WTVA) -- Business is growing for sweet potato farm operator Melissa Edmondson.

"We just couldn't have a crop and get our harvest in if it wasn't for them," she said.

Every year, around 100 migrant workers travel by bus from Mexico to this Calhoun County farm called Topashaw Farms. They are contract employees who make $9.50 an hour.
Housing and transportation are provided.

What they don't send home, they spend across Mississippi.

Mississippi sweet potato farmers have an estimated $150 million impact on the economy. They create in excess of 1,000 jobs.

"They really add a lot to our economy around here," Edmondson added.

Migrant workers add much to the bottom line of stores like the Mounce Supermarket. When they are in town, revenue jumps by 30 percent.

"There are lines out the door. They are all consumers. They eat very healthy foods, so it's a wonderful thing for our downtown merchants [and] our banks," Calhoun Economic Development Association Director Sheila Freely said.

"It gets pretty crazy with our size store and trying to prepare for them and have everything that they want," Mounce grocery store owner Jeff Mounce said.

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