Upstate GOP Lawmakers Vote Against Farm Labor Bill

June 19, 2019

Statement From Assemblyman Phil Palmesano About The Farm Bill:

“This disastrous bill would devastate our state’s top industry and the cornerstone of our region- agriculture. Misguided mandates and regulations from Albany Democrats have already put our farm families on an uneven playing filed. Today’s bill is different. It sets the playing field on fire. Over the past five years, we’ve lost 20% of our dairy farms. According to a Farm Credit East study, net farm income has plummeted 50% statewide over the past few years. Nationally, labor costs account for 36% of net farm income. In New York state, it’s 63%. So New York farmers are already at a competitive disadvantage to those in neighboring states. This bill would turn a difficult situation into an impossible one. This bill would increase costs on family farms by hundreds of millions of dollars and decrease net farm income even further. This, coupled with the fact that farmers are unable to recoup increased costs because they can’t set their own prices, is simply unworkable. It creates a wage board that stacks the deck against small farmers by allowing New York City labor unions and the governor’s hand-picked labor boss to team up against the interests of farmers. It ignores the seasonal, weather-dependent nature of harvests. Like many poorly-conceived wage mandates, it will kill the very jobs it claims to fortify. Ninety-eight percent of the farms in New York State are family owned, and they have no way to generate the needed revenue to keep up with these increased costs and mandates.”

Statement From Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes:
“Farmers across the state have come together on numerous occasions in opposition of the proposal that would authorize farmworkers to join unions and collective bargaining agreements. The new mandates will increase agricultural costs and further burden family farms at a time when farmers are already enduring financial crisis. Both Steuben and Livingston counties recently passed resolutions in opposition of the original bill due to concerns with the proposal. The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act is another regulation crippling our state’s farmers. Dairy farming requires 24/7 labor, and crop farming is seasonal and heavily dependent on weather. I worry that this bill will drive already-struggling farms into the ground,” said Byrnes. “Farm owners are already forced to withstand paying one of the highest minimum wages in the nation, and by implementing overtime, farms will face increased labor costs and lower profit margins.”

Statement From Assemblyman Joe Giglio:
“Today’s passage of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act in the New York State Assembly is an assault on our way of life in rural western and upstate New York. This legislation will have disastrous effects on the farming industry throughout the state, and will increase expenses for farmers and raise costs for consumers. The bill was sponsored by New York City politicians who have never set foot on a farm and don’t have any farms in their districts. Our family farms already struggle with normal small business operating expenses, and challenges with weather and marketplace competition. The addition of mandates that are unworkable in a farming environment will destroy this already-struggling industry. Agriculture in New York is currently a $4.8 billion industry, with more than 35,000 farms across the state. The very survival of agriculture in New York is now at risk with the passage of this bill, which threatens the livelihood of thousands of farm families and the jobs of the farm workers it allegedly protects. The legislation requires farmers to pay overtime, provides for eight-hour workdays, allows for unionization and more. Farming is a unique industry, particularly in New York, which unlike farming states like California and Florida, has only one growing season. I strongly urge the governor to veto this bill if it is passed in the Senate because of the negative effects it will have on agriculture in our state.”

State Senator Tom O’Mara:
“It’s another bad move at the worst possible time when too many family farms across our region and statewide are already struggling to make ends meet and survive. This action has devastating implications for family farms and an entire agricultural industry that has long been the cornerstone of economies and cultures across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, and throughout upstate New York. It’s another extreme move by a radically progressive state government, under one-party control, that will cost jobs, devastate hard-working families, and further weaken the foundations of local upstate economies.”