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January 29, 2020 - 2:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agribusiness, USMCA, O-AT-KA, dairy, eggs, wine.

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement today (Jan. 29) after President Donald J. Trump signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“Today is a good day for American agriculture," Perdue said. "Throughout this process, there were many detractors who said it couldn’t be done. But this is further proof that President Trump’s trade negotiation strategy is working. This agreement shows the rest of the world the United States is open for business.

"USMCA is critical for America’s farmers and ranchers, who will now have even more market access to our neighbors to the north and the south. I am excited to see the economic benefits of this agreement increase the prosperity of all Americans, especially those living in rural America."

Background about the USMCA

It will advance United States agricultural interests in two of the most important markets for American farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses. This high-standard agreement builds upon our existing markets to expand United States food and agricultural exports and support food processing and rural jobs.

Canada and Mexico are our first and second largest export markets for United States food and agricultural products, totaling more than $39.7 billion food and agricultural exports in 2018. These exports support more than 325,000 American jobs.

All food and agricultural products that have zero tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will remain at zero tariffs. Since the original NAFTA did not eliminate all tariffs on agricultural trade between the United States and Canada, the USMCA will create new market access opportunities for United States exports to Canada of dairy, poultry, and eggs, and in exchange the United States will provide new access to Canada for some dairy, peanut, and a limited amount of sugar and sugar-containing products

Earlier this year, nearly 1,000 American food and agriculure associations and companies announced their support for USMCA and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture signed a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to ratify USMCA.*

In September, all former U.S. secretaries of Agriculture since President Reagan’s Administration announced support for USMCA. In a letter to Congessional leaders, former Secretaries John Block (Reagan), Mike Espy (Clinton), Dan Glickman (Clinton), Ann Veneman (W. Bush), Mike Johanns (W. Bush), Ed Shafer (W. Bush), and Tom Vilsack (Obama) underscored the importance of passing USMCA saying:

“We need a strong and reliable trade deal with our top two customers for U.S. agriculture products. USMCA will provide certainty in the North American market for the U.S. farm sector and rural economy. We strongly support ratification of USMCA.”

Key Provision: Increasing Dairy Market Access

  • America’s dairy farmers will have expanded market opportunities in Canada for a wide variety of dairy products. Canada agreed to eliminate the unfair Class 6 and Class 7 milk pricing programs that allowed their farmers to undersell U.S. producers.

Key Provision: Biotechnology

  • For the first time, the agreement specifically addresses agricultural biotechnology – including new technologies such as gene editing – to support innovation and reduce trade-distorting policies.

Key Provision: Geographical Indications

  • The agreement institutes a more rigorous process for establishing geographical indicators and lays out additional factors to be considered in determining whether a term is a common name.

Key Provision: Sanitary/Phytosanitary Measures

  • The three countries agree to strengthen disciplines for science-based measures that protect human, animal, and plant health while improving the flow of trade.

Key Provision: Poultry and Eggs

  • U.S. poultry producers will have expanded access to Canada for chicken, turkey, and eggs.

Key Provision: Wheat

  • Canada agrees to terminate its discriminatory wheat grading system, enabling U.S. growers to be more competitive.

Key Provision: Wine and Spirits

  • The three countries agree to avoid technical barriers to trade through non-discrimination and transparency regarding sale, distribution, labeling, and certification of wine and distilled spirits.

* Signatories included: Batavia-based O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative; Upstate Niagara Cooperative; New York Corn and Soybean Growers Association; New York Farm Bureau; New York Pork Producers Co-Op; and the New York Apple Association.

January 23, 2020 - 5:06pm

Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR), along with event co-sponsor the Homeless Alliance of WNY (HAWNY), are delighted and grateful to welcome Chap's Elba Diner as a meal sponsor for the Orleans County Project Connect on Thursday Jan. 30.

This event was created to provide resources to people experiencing housing instability, maintaining gainful employment, and obtaining needed healthcare.   

Join us for a FREE hot meal, with access to local available resources to assist with housing, employment, healthcare, and other needs, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the HOAG LIBRARY, 134 S. Main St., Albion.

Signing up for a session in advance is encouraged but NOT REQUIRED.  For more information or to register, please contact: Amber Mesita at (585) 815-8501, ext. 417, or email her at [email protected]

Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR) is a member of the Western New York Independent Living Inc. family of agencies that offers an expanding array of services to aid individuals with disabilities to take control of their own lives. It has an office on West Main Street in Batavia.

 

January 23, 2020 - 4:29pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is celebrates its 48th Annual Awards Ceremony on Saturday, March 7, at the Quality Inn & Suites, Park Road, Batavia.

This is the County’s premier event that honors businesses and individuals for their achievements in business, community service and volunteerism. Tickets are $50 per person or a table of 10 for $450.

The evening begins at 5:30 with hors d'oeuvres, entrée tables and cash bar (no formal sit-down dinner is to be served). The Award Program starts at 7 p.m. at which time dessert and coffee will be served.

Call Kelly J. Bermingham, at 343-7440, ext. 1026, to make your reservations.

This year’s honorees are:  

Business of the Year: Tompkins Bank of Castile       

Agricultural Business of the Year: Call Lands/My-T Acres   

Special Service Recognition of the Year: Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship                             

Geneseean of the Year: Jeff Allen

January 20, 2020 - 2:01pm

Press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced last week that 61 New York State businesses, community colleges and community-based organizations will receive funding for workforce development totaling $3.4 million as part of the state's historic $175 million Workforce Development Initiative.

Professional training is expected to provide 2,464 New Yorkers with in-demand skills. Grant funds are provided by the Department of Labor, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and The State University of New York. Since launching in May, nearly $6.5 million has been awarded through the Workforce Development Initiative.

"These awards will help ensure that thousands of workers across the state are not only prepared for the jobs of today, but are ready to take on the jobs of tomorrow," Governor Cuomo said. "New York's workforce must adapt to the rapidly changing, modern economy and the Workforce Development Initiative will give our workers the edge they need to stay competitive."

"Investing in workforce development is essential to provide New Yorkers with the skills they need for the jobs of the future," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "In order to keep up with the needs of the labor market, New York must lead the way to train workers in advanced manufacturing, health care, and energy to close the skills gap and create a pipeline of talent for employers.

"This funding awarded as part of the Workforce Development Initiative targets resources to ensure job training is available in our communities for good paying jobs now and in the future that will continue to move our economy forward."

New York's Regional Economic Development Councils play a key role in recommending applications for funding, based on regional economic needs and opportunities. Businesses and organizations from eight REDC regions receiving Workforce Development awards include:

  • Finger Lakes: Berry Global, Bonduelle Americas, Clifton Springs Hospital and Clinic, Creative Food Ingredients, Cutco Corporation, Harbec, Lifetime Assistance, Markin Tubing, McAlpin Industries, Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative, Optimax, Orolia, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Park Ridge Nursing Home, Pfisterer Lapp, Prestolite Electric, Rochester General Hospital, Rochester General Long Term Care, Spectracom, University of Rochester Medical Center, Unity Hospital.

The professional training projects are supported by SUNY community colleges across the state, including: Adirondack, Broome, Corning, Dutchess, Fashion Institute of Technology, Genesee, Jamestown, Monroe, Nassau, North Country, Tompkins Cortland, and Westchester. Projects funded through NYS Department of Labor include sites in the Finger Lakes, Long Island and New York City. Projects funded through NYSERDA are all located in New York City.

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said, "SUNY's community colleges continue to be the hubs for job training and individualized education as we prepare our students to meet the needs of New York's employers. I applaud the Governor for continuing his deep commitment to our state's workforce to ensure that any employer looking for skilled workers can look no further than right here in New York."

January 20, 2020 - 1:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in ESL Federal Credit Union, batavia, business.

Press release:

ESL Federal Credit Union announced Friday (Jan. 17) it has dispersed $20 million to members in its largest and 24th consecutive Owners’ Dividend payout.

“2020 marks a milestone year for ESL. As we enter our 100th year of serving the Greater Rochester community, we are thrilled to share our financial success directly with our members through our most significant Owners’ Dividend payout to date,” said Faheem Masood, president and CEO, ESL Federal Credit Union

 “We are committed to living our purpose of ‘helping our community thrive and prosper,’ and we couldn’t do that without the support of our loyal members and community, and the hard work and dedication of our employees.”

With the latest distribution, ESL has shared more than $150 million with its members over the program’s 24 years.

It has a 22-branch network, including a branch is Genesee County at 4214 Veterans Memorial Drive in Batavia.

The individual Owners’ Dividend payout amounts ESL members receive are based on an established Owners’ Dividend criteria. For more information about the criteria, please visit esl.org/ownersdividend.

Qualification for the Owners’ Dividend is subject to eligibility requirements, and payment of the Owners’ Dividend is not guaranteed.

About ESL Federal Credit Union

With 100 years of locally owned history, ESL Federal Credit Union serves as a full-service financial institution to more than 366,000 members. Founded in 1920, the company provides personal, business banking and wealth management services through its locally based 22-branch network; telephone, mobile and online services; and a live chat center.

The Rochester-based financial institution employs more than 830 people in the Greater Rochester area and holds more than $6.8 billion in assets. The company has appeared on the Great Place to Work® Best Small & Medium Workplaces list for nine years, since 2010. ESL Federal Credit Union is headquartered at 225 Chestnut St. in Rochester and can be found online at www.esl.org.

January 17, 2020 - 3:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Oxbo, Oxbo International Corp., byron.

Submitted photos and press release:

Byron -- Oxbo International Corporation (“Oxbo”) announced today that Joe Perzia (inset photo left), senior vice president of Operations, was recently named chief operating officer of Ploeger Oxbo Group.

Perzia joined Oxbo in 1995 and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Ploeger Oxbo Group, the Dutch parent company of Oxbo.

Perzia will remain based at Oxbo’s corporate offices in Byron.

Oxbo also announced that Tom Cerasuolo (inset photo right), CPA, has joined the company as vice president of Finance.

Cerasuolo, who lives in Rochester, joins Oxbo after almost 25 years with Xerox Corporation.

He will be based at the company’s Byron offices.

Oxbo International Corporation is a leading supplier of specialized harvesters and other equipment for niche market agriculture.

With manufacturing operations in Byron as well as Clear Lake, Wis., and Lynden, Wash., Oxbo markets its equipment to agribusiness and producers worldwide.

Ploeger Oxbo Group, based in Roosendaal, the Netherlands, designs and manufactures harvesters and application equipment for worldwide markets.

The Group has manufacturing operations in the Netherlands, France, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and in the United States through its subsidiary Oxbo International.

January 17, 2020 - 12:07pm

Press release:

The Pavilion Central School District is proud to announce that we are now able to offer students a Career and Technical Endorsement in both Agriculture and Business.

This new endorsement will encourage students to enhance their skill sets in agriculture or business.

These new programs allow students to study in a focused career pathway, partake focused internships, and attain college credits at associated colleges.

Upon completion of the Business Career Program, the students can receive college credits at GCC in Introduction to Business, Introduction to Computers, and Microcomputer Applications.

The students are also able to achieve credits in Programming and Problem Solving, and Computer Programming after passing the Advanced Placement Computer Science Placement Exam.

The students enrolled in the Agriculture program will be able to receive credit in Agriculture Business at Morrisville State University, and Animal or Plant Science at Alfred State University.

January 15, 2020 - 6:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in spectrum, Empire Access, business.

Officials at Empire Access are warning their customers that Spectrum sales reps may be using deceptive tactics to try and convince them to switch broadband and cable services.

Today, Marketing Director Bob R. VanDelinder released a video taken by a customer's front-porch video recorder that shows a man who looks like a Spectrum rep and represents himself as a Spectrum rep telling the customer that Spectrum is acquiring Empire Access.

"We thought this may be of interest since Empire Access did NOT sell to Spectrum, and has no plans of selling," VanDelinder said. "Our company is locally owned and operated, and deeply rooted in the communities we serve."

The rep tells the customer, "We just bought Empire, you know, so sooner or later you're going to be with us."

"So you're going to raise up your rates?" the customer asks in response. 

"No, we're just going to get everybody switched over, so whenever you're ready. The official switch-over is March, so sooner later you'll be on board with us or you'll be on satellite. Right now we're offering you a deal to get on board with us."

VanDelinder said his company has received two complaints, both involving the same rep at a location in the Southern Tier.

The Batavian attempted to reach a spokesperson for Spectrum this afternoon and we received no response.

UPDATE 9:43 p.m.: We apparently contacted the wrong Spectrum. We just received the following statement from a Spectrum spokesperson: "The content of the video is not accurate and we’re investigating these apparent comments by the sales representative."

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January 15, 2020 - 2:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Attica, business, Pavilion, Hands of Time Massage.

82153134_2629863127129539_7787041639138066432_n.jpg

After the west wall of the Opera House in Attica was heavily damaged in a windstorm last week, Pavilion resident Jolene Coots found her business, Hands of Time Massage, displaced.

It didn't take long for the community to find out and the outpouring of support has been overwhelming, said her husband, Jesse Coots.

"Because of the damage, the county has deemed the building unsafe so she was instantly out of business," Jesse said. "Feeling crushed, we went to Attica yesterday (Monday) to remove what we could then we went for lunch at local diner and people were amazing to Jolene. They gave her hugs and words of encouragement and offered any help we needed.

"We took a walk down Main Street looking for a place to rent. Nothing was advertised for rent and feeling desperate we just walked into a couple of local businesses and asked if they knew if anything. Everyone, and I mean everyone, offered space to Jolene. They offered to share a room and offered to make room for her!

"We were really shocked. We thought she would be out of business for a few months but the community has literally rallied behind her."

Talking about it makes Jolene tear up.

"It's amazing," Jolene said during a phone interview. She started to sob and confessed she thought she had told the story often enough already that she wouldn't cry during the interview.

"Everybody knew," Jolene said. "It's a small town. Word spreads quickly. The expressions of concern when we went out, messages on Facebook, Jesse's friends had spots available, even in neighboring towns, they'd say they have spots available and though know it's not close for a majority of my clients, but they have space. It's been great."

That's the advantage of small-town life, both Jesse and Jolene noted, and why they wanted to share their story.

Jolene has been a massage therapist for 20 years and had her own business in Attica for more than 19 years. The Coots are known, of course, for the Hardcore Happening, which they host at their home in Pavilion every August.

While Jolene is hopeful the Opera House can be repaired -- she believes her landlord expects to repair it -- she now has space for her practice. 

On Monday, while she and Jesse stepped into the Tompkins Insurance office and asked if the staff new of open space downtown. Manager Mike Hardy came out and right away offered a space upstairs. Jolene said it was the most move-in ready space they had seen and Hardy allowed her to move her business into the room immediately.  

"The words of encouragement have meant the most," Jesse said. "I don’t think she ever realized how loved she is or how powerful and supportive a small town can be.

"We’ve had offers from people all over once word got out -- friends who own building in Batavia, Le Roy, Pavilion and Attica have reached out. Other massage therapists have offered space. It really made us feel good to live in such a caring community and feel loved by so many."

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January 14, 2020 - 2:21pm

Press release:

“Getting the Most Out of Your Chamber Membership” will be the subject of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Workshop on Wednesday, Jan. 15.  

“Most people are aware of many benefits of Chamber membership,” said Tom Turnbull, president of the Chamber. “But there are so many other benefits that are sometimes overlooked and can add value to any business organization.

"This workshop will highlight the many new and exciting ways you can get more out of your Chamber membership. ”

It will be presented by the Chamber staff at the Chamber of Commerce office, 8276 Park Road, Batavia.

The session will run from 8 to 9 a.m. and is free to both Chamber members and non-members. Attendees are encouraged to make reservations to insure space. 

To reserve a seat in the workshop or for more information, contact Kelly Bermingham at 585-343-7440 or by email at [email protected].                                

January 14, 2020 - 2:10pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its 48th annual Awards Ceremony, which will be held on Saturday, March 7, at the Quality Inn & Suites, Park Road, Batavia.

This is the County’s premier event that honors businesses and individuals for their achievements in business, community service and volunteerism.  

This year’s honorees are:

  • Business of the Year: Tompkins Bank of Castile       
  • Agricultural Organization of the Year: Call Lands/My T Acres   
  • Special Service Recognition of the Year: Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship                             
  • Geneseean of the Year: Jeff Allen

Tickets are $50 per person or a table of 10 for $450.   

The evening begins at 5:30 with hors d’oeuvres, entrée tables and cash bar (no formal sit-down dinner is to be served). The Award Program starts at 7 o'clock at which time dessert and coffee will be served.  

Call Kelly J. Bermingham, at 343-7440, ext. 1026, to make your reservations.

January 12, 2020 - 2:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in The Coffee Press, batavia, business.

coffeepressoneyear.jpg

Shirley Puleo and Lynn Bezon chat with owner Derek Geib during the first-anniversary celebration yesterday of The Coffee Press on Jackson Street.

January 10, 2020 - 4:03pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, steve hawley, farm labor laws.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I- Batavia) announced today that he has introduced legislation, A.8916, that would mandate including two additional members on the Farm Laborers Wage Board, increasing membership from three to five individuals. The two additional members would be the Commissioner of Agriculture & Markets and a member of the business community.

“New York City politicians passed sweeping and overarching new farm labor regulations last year which have the potential to devastate small, family-owned farms in our state,” Hawley said. “It is imperative that the new wage board has input and influence from those who are on the frontlines of the agriculture industry instead of politically appointed Big Labor bosses.

“I proudly debated on the Assembly Floor and voted against the farm labor changes because Downstate lawmakers have no business telling our producers how to operate. Agriculture is a unique industry that is thriving in many parts of our state and to pass blanket labor laws from behind a desk in Albany is grossly irresponsible and myopic.

"As the Past President of the Genesee County Farm Bureau and former owner of our family farm in Batavia, I will continue to advocate for our area’s farmers and see that this bill I’m introducing to expand the wage board becomes law this year.”

January 7, 2020 - 1:29pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCEDC, business, Ellicott Station, savarino companies.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider accepting an application for assistance for the proposed $22.5 million Ellicott Station project in the City of Batavia at the GCEDC’s Jan. 9 meeting.

The Ellicott Station project is a mixed-use brownfield redevelopment project including adaptive reuse and new construction of a blighted property in a key gateway entrance site to Downtown Batavia. Considerable brownfield remediation, site improvements, and construction are proposed by project developer Savarino Companies.

“With Genesee County, the City of Batavia, and the Batavia City School District, we are working collectively to revitalize the city,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “The cleanup and redevelopment of the Ellicott Station site is a critical component of achieving our collective vision for Batavia’s Pathway to Prosperity.”

If the application is accepted, a public hearing on the proposed incentives will be scheduled in the City of Batavia.

The Ellicott Station project has been updated from a previous application that was approved by the GCEDC board in November 2018. The project proposes a five-story apartment building with 55 new modern workforce housing units, along with a brewery, restaurant/beer garden, and the preparation of an additional development site on the 3.31-acre campus.

The proposed project supports the Genesee County’s EDGE economic development strategy of creating housing for entry-level workers at Genesee County’s growing businesses.

Ellicott Station is requesting approximately $3.6 million in economic incentives, with a $2,105,792 property tax exemption, a $790,512 sales tax exemption, and a $180,792 mortgage tax exemption.

The proposed incentives are aligned with a request for financial support from the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal (HCR).

“We believe that the proposed project can be economically viable as the market-rate housing component checks a number of boxes that support the state’s interest in funding these types of developments,” Hyde said.

“The fact that there are a growing number of employment opportunities in the surrounding area to attract workforce talent to our region is certainly another factor we hope the state will consider in its decision.”

January 3, 2020 - 1:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, GCC, BEA, rural healthcare.

Press release:

More than 275 students in grades eight through 12 from Genesee and Wyoming counties will be participating in the Healthcare Career Day at the Genesee Community College campus in Batavia on Tuesday, Jan. 7th from 9:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

The event will provide local students the opportunity to learn about high-growth and high-demand health careers and meet with medical professionals from more than 20 different fields, including laboratory technologists, physicians, first responders, nurses, speech and occupational therapists, radiologists, and more.

Students will also participate in the Healthcare College and Career Fair in the William W. Stuart Forum from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., where they will meet with representatives from more than 25 colleges and healthcare organizations.

The Healthcare Career Day is a special collaboration between Genesee Community College, Genesee County Business Education Alliance (BEA), Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, Fidelis Care, Tobacco-Free GOW, Rochester Regional Health United Memorial Medical Center, Wyoming County Community Health System, and the Wyoming County Business Education Council (BEC).

Healthcare Career Day hopes to address the future workforce shortage in healthcare, particularly in rural communities like Genesee and Wyoming counties where residents already have considerable difficulty accessing healthcare locally. Remote geographic locations, small size, limited workforce, and physician shortages pose a unique set of challenge for rural hospitals and health centers.

The mission of this special collaboration is to promote employment opportunities with tomorrow’s workforce, as jobs in healthcare occupations are projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. The Healthcare Career Day will help secure the health and wellness of Genesee and Wyoming counties for generations to come.

For more information, contact Karyn Winters at [email protected] or 585-343-7440.

January 3, 2020 - 9:02am
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, steve hawley, NY Farm Bureau.

Press release: 

Assemblyman Steve Hawley announced today that he has once again been named to the Farm Bureau "Circle of Friends" for his legislative support of agricultural and farming initiatives in 2019.

“I am honored to once again be named to the Circle of Friends and I thank the Farm Bureau for the great relationship and dialogue we have exercised over the years to do what’s best for our area’s producers,” Hawley said.

Hawley is the former owner and operator of Hawley Farms in Batavia, a longtime member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and a leading opponent of the Farm Labor Bill, which allows unionization, mandatory time off and other labor restrictions for farm workers.

“The new farm labor regulations, which took effect yesterday, are an absolute deathblow to family farms across our state," Hawley said. "By choking our farmer’s labor supply and mandating drastic wage increases, we are threatening our farms’ livelihood and their ability to operate and succeed when they need laborers the most.

"I was proud to stand with farmers across the state in debating and voting against this bill when it came to the Assembly floor. New York City politicians who have probably never set foot on a farm should never be allowed to dictate how we operate.”

January 1, 2020 - 6:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, farm labor bill.

Press release:

A temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued by Federal Court Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo on Dec. 31 in U.S. District Court in Western New York. The TRO prohibits New York State from enforcing certain actions and imposing penalties upon farmers stemming from a new law scheduled to go into effect today.

It is important to note, the TRO does not impact the law or impact the wages of the vast majority of hourly employees working on New York farms and the payment of overtime, nor was it intended to.

The court action followed a lawsuit filed on Monday, Dec. 30 that would temporarily halt the implementation of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act on Jan. 1. The suit was filed by the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA) and the New York State Vegetable Growers Association (NYSVGA) on behalf of the organizations' member farmers across the state, seeking clarity and to ensure they are in compliance with the law’s requirements.

The TRO specifically restrains the state government from enforcing the Act where such actions would impact the status, compensation, and hours of supervisors, family members, shareholders, and administrative and professional employees. The TRO will be in effect for several weeks. If a mutually agreeable settlement is not reached, a preliminary injunction hearing will be held on Jan. 24.

Brian Reeves, president of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association, and owner of Reeves Farms in Baldwinsville (Onondaga County), said, “The ruling in favor of the TRO is an important first step for ensuring the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practice Act is implemented fairly for all who work on farms in New York.

"We want to protect the rights of all who work on our farms and are so important to our success. We look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to correct the statute to better address the rights of all who work on our farms.”

Jon Greenwood, chair of the Northeast Dairy Producers Association and co-owner of Greenwood Dairy Farm in Canton (St. Lawrence County), said, “The narrow scope of the TRO ruling will allow us to continue to work with the state to improve language and definitions in the Act.

"Providing clarity to New York’s farms will help us protect our management teams while assuring family members and others employed on our farms are treated fairly. We look forward to working with the state and court to ensure that the interests of farmers, their families, and employees are represented in the new state law.”

December 30, 2019 - 12:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in Farm Labor Act, business, agriculture, dairy, vegetable growers.

Press release:*

A coalition of New York State dairy and vegetable farms has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Western New York seeking a court order that would temporarily halt the implementation of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act on Jan.1. New York’s farmers and employees are seeking clarity to ensure they are in compliance with its requirements.

The group, which includes the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA), the New York State Vegetable Growers Association (NYSVGA), and individual farmers across the state have been working with state officials for months, leading up to and following the legislature’s approval in June of a measure that was then signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in July.

*(Update) In Genesee County, the coalition includes Torrey Farms, a dairy farm in Elba that's been in operation since 1803, and MTy Acres, which is represented on the Board of Directors of NYS veg growers.

Prior to filing the lawsuit today, representatives of NEDPA and the NYSVGA worked into the evening on Friday in an effort to seek a resolution that would bring clarity to the matter. In addition, they maintained open lines of communications and were willing to continue the dialogue throughout the weekend.

In fact, prior to being voted upon and signed, a statewide advocacy effort was conducted by concerned agricultural interests that repeatedly identified flaws within the legislation that needed to be addressed to avoid unintended consequences of the state action.

More specifically, the lawsuit outlines the challenges facing New York’s agriculture community, and identifies several key issues that require modification.

  • As currently written, the Act’s definition of “farm laborer” includes supervisors, farm owners and family members of farm owners. This places farms in a contradictory or “Catch 22” position. If supervisors, owners and family members are classified as farm laborers, they have the right to engage in collective bargaining with other employees. However, if supervisors, owners and family members are also agents of the farm business, they must not engage in conduct that would discourage union concerted activity, assist in the formation of a union, or otherwise violate the rights of farm laborers.
  • The Act also conflicts with Section 14(a) of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The Act includes supervisors as part of the group of farm labors who may engage in concerted activities, but the NLRA expressly prohibits states from adopting such legislation, and so the law is preempted by federal law. 
  • Because the Act includes supervisors, owners, and family members for purposes of its hour restrictions and overtime pay requirements, farms must reclassify the way they engage these individuals, and this compounds the conflict as farmers endeavor to implement the law.
  • As a result, if a farm decides to classify its supervisors, owners and family members as farm laborers, it will result in a violation of the Act’s collective bargaining provisions. On the other hand, if a farm takes the position that supervisors, owners and family members are not farm laborers, the farm may be subjecting itself to criminal and civil penalties by violating their rights as farm laborers and by violating the hour restrictions and overtime pay requirements.

John Dickinson, Northeast Dairy Producers Association, and co-owner of Ideal Dairy in Hudson Falls (Washington County), said, “We greatly appreciate the efforts of our employees; they are invaluable to our success and we want to do what’s right for them. We have had productive interactions with state representatives and provided feedback on the lack of clarity this law provides, however we are asking for a pause to allow necessary changes to be made.

"The lack of guidance the dairy community is receiving is causing unnecessary stress on farms, agribusinesses, and families across the state. We have every intention of abiding with this law, but our farms and employees are struggling with implementation due to unclear and conflicting definitions as it is currently written.”

Brian Reeves, president of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association, and owner of Reeves Farms in Baldwinsville (Onondaga County), said,“We have been working for months in a constructive manner to bring clarity and fairness to a law that had significant problems due to ambiguity and unfairness to employees and farm families across New York.

"Today, we are simply seeking a temporary pause to the implementation of this law, to avoid harm to our farms and our employees, while the Governor and Legislature correct the ambiguities.”

December 26, 2019 - 3:53pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, business, yoga, Blue Pearl.

Submitted photo and press release:

The New Year at Blue Pearl Yoga Open House will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 4.

Come and explore the many opportunities for wellness and check out our beautiful yoga space located in the former Masonic Temple on Main Street in Downtown Batavia.

Try out different styles of yoga and meet our teachers, as we will be offering free 20-minute Discovery classes throughout the day in our two yoga rooms. Or you're welcome to just hang out in the Art Gallery or Reception Room, and enjoy some light refreshments and good company.

All welcome, no charge. Blue Pearl Yoga Studio is located on the third floor of 200 E. Main St. — stair access only.

(In case of cancellation due to inclement weather, the Open House will occur from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 5)

December 26, 2019 - 12:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Cornell Cooperative Extension, business, agriculture.

Press release:

The Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension Board of Directors has selected Joaquina Kankam as their executive director, a position that includes leadership of the 100-year-old organization that provides quality programs in youth development, agriculture, nutrition, leadership, and community and economic development.

Kankam currently works as a statewide Extension Program Specialist in 4-H and Youth Development with Prairie View A & M University in Texas. She also cochairs a committee for the National Urban Extension Conference Planning Committee and leads numerous statewide youth development and professional development training.

Prior to her current role, she served as an instructor for two different colleges, and as an educator/administrator for the Houston Independent School District.

Kankam holds a B.A. in psychology from Tuskegee University, an M.Ed. in Education from the University of St. Thomas, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Prairie View A & M University.

“I am so excited to work with such a kind group of people. I hope I can extend the same welcome to everyone as the lovely people of Genesee County have already given to me,” Kankam said.

She will begin her role on Jan. 6th. For more information on Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension, please visit genesee.cce.cornell.edu.

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