Genesee County Farms take protest drive on Thruway, slowing traffic
Two groups of farmers took a slow drive on the Thruway through Genesee County today, slowing traffic and sending a message to Albany about a proposed bill that opponents call the Farm Death Bill.
The bill would change farm labor law. Among the provisions, farmers would be required to pay workers time-and-half for overtime. Farmers say it would cost the New York agriculture industry $200 million and drive hundreds of farms in the state out of business.
The bill has already passed the Assembly and now awaits consideration by the dysfunctional Senate.
Le Roy dairy farmer Dale Stein, who helped lead the protest, said it appears the protest was effective. He received a call this evening and was told Gov. David Paterson heard about the protest and immediately called a meeting with the agricutlure commissioner to discuss the legislation.
Two groups of farmers -- one starting in Batavia and another Le Roy -- participated in the protest. The Batavia group, comprised of representatives from about 20 farms, headed east and the Le Roy group headed west. Each group drove 35 to 40 m.h.p., but blocked both lanes in each direction for only a portion of the drive.
Stein said he's heard of only one ticket being issued, to a van in the Le Roy group, and even though State Police were in the area of the eastbound group, no vehicles in that group were stopped.
The protest was organized, Stein said, on only about two or three hours notice.
Stein said State Police did not interfer with the eastbound protest, but he heard of a ticket being issued to a westbound driver.
Sgt. Derrick Harris of the State Police said that actually, six tickets were issued to westbound drivers. He said there were only six drivers involved in the westbound lanes. He said no action was taken in the eastbound lanes.