Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss with North Carolina farmersU.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss was out this weekend pressing the flesh as a surrogate for Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney, blitzing a series of agricultural roundtables in eastern North Carolina.

Chambliss, who carved out a niche on agricultural issues in his two terms in the Senate, was deployed by Boston to boost returns among the state’s many farmers and said plainly North Carolina was a “must-win” for Republicans in the fall.

“Let me tell you, right here is where it starts,” he said, according to the local Kingston Free Press. “If Romney doesn’t win North Carolina he’s not going to win … This is a must-win state.”

But the trip wasn’t entirely political handicapping, also broaching reforms to the H-2A visa program, an immigration program allowing seasonal farm hands to enter the country.

Chambliss said sensible reforms that would bolster the agricultural industry was a primary goal of his, and one that Romney acknowledges warrants a response.

“When it comes to immigration reform, [Romney] knows something’s got to be done,” Chambliss said.

The Georgian’s Tarheel swing took him through round tables and farm tours, while Republican National Committee chief Reince Priebus was likewise in-state to open local campaign headquarters.

– James Richardson