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January 16, 2010 - 2:41pm

Revamped farm labor bill is no improvement, says Farm Bureau president

posted by Howard B. Owens in Business, agriculture, farm bureau.

A so-called compromise bill on changes to farm labor laws would cost New York farmers more than $200 million in added expense, according to New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton.

In a press release from the bureau, Norton says the proposed changes to labor laws are more onerous than any other state, except California, which has an agriculture industry three times larger than New York's.

Ironically, Norton noted, that primary backers of the bill -- legislative staff and nonprofits -- are exempt from the same kind of labor laws they now advocate for family farms.

"Food is a basic human need, and this legislation seeks to ensure that local farms won't be around to produce local food for local people. This bill would force us to turn our farms into factories, to meet these onerous labor mandates that virtually no other state in the union has. It's yet another example of Albany seeking to drive businesses -- and farmers -- out of New York," Norton said. 

The bill, S.2247b, was introduced by Sen. Pedro Espada Thursday night and it opens the door to collective bargaining on family farms and forces small, seasonal operations to pay unemployment benefits for temporary workers.

"This proposal forces mandates on our family farms that will put New York at an extreme competitive disadvantage," Norton said. "Sen. Espada and the legislature need to consider the long-term viability of the Upstate and Long Island economy before passing legislation that wrecks it."

Chris Pawelski
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The article states the following: "Ironically, Norton noted, that primary backers of the bill -- legislative staff and nonprofits -- are exempt from the same kind of labor laws they now advocate for family farms." This is EXACTLY right and a point I've been making over and over again. See: http://www.westfaironline.com/hudson-valley-biz/article/6643-down-on-the... http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/storyprint.asp?StoryID=814533 http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090611/OPINION/... http://lancasterfarming.com/node/2053 http://www.vegetablegrowersnews.com/newsroom.html?ns=2568 Here are the questions I keep asking that the supporters and/or enablers of Rural and Migrant Ministry et al never address or answer: 1. WHY IS THE OVERTIME EXEMPTION BAD FOR AGRICULTURE BUT OKAY FOR THE EMPLOYEES OF NON-PROFITS AND ESPECIALLY RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS WHO ARE DRIVING THIS "CONCRETE PAINTED GREEN" MOVEMENT? 2. WHEN CAN WE EXPECT RMM AND/OR THE VARIOUS OTHER HYPOCRITICAL RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS TO CALL ON THE NYS GOVERNMENT TO END THEIR EXEMPTIONS TO THE LABOR LAWS, INCLUDING AND ESPECIALLY THE OVERTIME EXEMPTION? OR THE OTHER LAWS THEY ARE EXEMPT FROM ALSO, LIKE TAX LAWS? On what basis does Rural and Migrant Ministry, and it’s affiliated and proxy and related partners and other organizations, but especially Rural and Migrant Ministry, speak in behalf of farmworkers? On what basis do they get to demand what labor laws should be in connection with farmworkers? On what basis do they get to demand and decide what legislation should be passed in connection with farmworkers? The level of hypocrisy being displayed is equal parts nauseating and appalling.

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