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