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Nursery, greenhouse, and sod production remains very labor-intensive, and a large portion of the agricultural labor force is made up of migrant workers. As a result of the perishable nature of horticultural goods, a skilled and accessible labor supply is imperative for continued industry growth and stability. Using 2004 survey data, this study uses log-linear regression analysis to examine the effects of migrant labor on wages, hours, and gross sales in Alabama's horticulture industry. A binomial probit model is added to measure producer decisions to hire migrant workers. The presence of migrant workers is found to raise average wages within green industry firms but exhibits no significant effects on hours and sales. The binomial probit model indicates that producer concerns may have some influence on their decision to hire migrant workers. Producers who perceive government regulations as a threat to their industry are less likely to hire migrant workers. This indicates that there may be a greater level of government regulation associated with hiring migrant workers when compared with local workers. Concerns for lack of professionalism appear to raise the demand for migrant rather than local workers.

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Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.) is an underused edible aquatic perennial vegetable currently evaluated as a potential functional food source and promoted in the southeastern United States as a rich source of phytonutrients. There is a paucity of information concerning consumer acceptance and willingness to purchase edible, value-added lotus products in the southeastern United States. The purpose of this exploratory study was to evaluate the potential demand and consumer preference for fresh lotus rhizomes and value-added products namely lotus salad, baked lotus chips, and lotus stir-fry. Results of two taste panels indicated that lotus stir-fry was the most preferred value-added product with 77% of participants strongly liking stir-fry, whereas 92% of the participants were willing to recommend this preparation. Results suggest socioeconomic characteristics such as gender (P = 0.014), age (P = 0.005), income (P = 0.043), education (P = 0.003), shopping habits (P = 0.013), and type of meal purchased (P = 0.004) are the factors affecting consumer choice and willingness to recommend lotus stir-fry. Results provide information on consumer acceptance of fresh lotus rhizomes and value-added products. Findings of this case study will assist in analyzing consumer behavior and development of sustainable niche markets for locally cultivated fresh edible lotus rhizomes.

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