Farmers across the state of New York are concerned certain parts of newly proposed farm labor legislation could negatively impact the state’s agriculture economy. The Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act would give workers overtime beyond an 8-hour day and collective bargaining rights.
New York Farm Bureau Public Affairs Manager Steve Ammerman said that not only will it mean a reduction in hours for their employees, but also a loss of employees because some farmers may have to grow other crops.
“One of the growers there today owns an apple orchard. And they are seriously looking at plowing the orchard under and just growing row crops like corn and soy bean which doesn’t require much labor,” said Ammerman. “So not only would that be a loss of the local apple orchard and local apple products, but also a loss of, I think it was close to 20 jobs he was saying that they employ on the farm.”
Ammerman said farmers support some aspects of the Bill, including a day of rest for employees and mandating unemployment insurance on workers comp for employees.
Senator Michael Ranzenhofer will join fellow Senator and Chair of Committee on Labor Jessica Ramos for a closed-door session in Batavia Thursday morning before going on a farm tour. Ammerman said it’s a matter of trying to not only educate, but have a conversation with Urban lawmakers.
“To help them understand these rural issues and the implications not only to the farm, but also to the rural economy and to the local food supply. There’s a lot of food that goes in to the green markets in New York City that will be impacted by this legislation, no different than Buffalo or Rochester,” he said.