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April 12, 2019 - 8:38am

Sponsor of farm labor bill visits farmers and farmworkers in Batavia and Elba

posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, batavia, elba, news, farmworkers, video, Sen. Jessica Ramos.

 

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Sen. Jessica Ramos, a first-term state legislator from Queens, and sponsor of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act visited Batavia and Elba yesterday to meet with farmers and farmworkers at the invitation of Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer.

In the morning she and Ranzenhofer hosted a discussion with more than a dozen area farmers and some of their workers in the foyer of the Call Arena at Genesee Community College. That event was closed to the press and a reporter who showed up was asked to leave.

In the afternoon, Ramos visited the Torrey Farms Big-O onion packing facility in Elba and when The Batavian arrived, we were not asked to leave and were able to obtain exclusive coverage of the event. We were unable to interview Ramos at the event because of a scheduling conflict but expect to be able to talk with her soon.

At yesterday's event, we spoke with farmworkers and farmers and were told repeatedly that farmworkers do not favor the farmworkers bill because they fear it will mean fewer hours and less money.  

Farmworkers said they understand the weather-driven variability of farm work and they said that it is critical to their ability to making a living that they be able to pack in as many hours in a week as they can when the sun is shining. They depend on the income to take care of family members back home, their families here, to pay mortgages, send kids to college, and fund their own business-ownership dreams.

Farmers said that if the proposed overtime laws pass, they will be forced to reduce hours worked by their employees and that their migrant employees, who don't have ties to the area, will likely leave for nearby states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, where they can work as many hours as they want.

UPDATE 11:20 a.m.: Sen. Ramos canceled our interview scheduled for this afternoon.

Scott Chismar
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Ridiculous. I wonder why the Farm Workers say they would not want better, wages, hours and working conditions? Could it be that if they spoke the truth, they would find themselves without work? It is not too hard to see what is going on here.

Cindy Perry
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Or it could be that they want to get as many hours in as possible while the sun is shining, like they said. Around here farmers do most of their work between May and October... That's 5 short months. And my husband, who runs a small family farm (we have no hired help), works well into the night during the summer. If he had hired hands that had to obey a farm law that limited their availability... Well... Let's just say a lot of work wouldn't be getting done, at least not by them.
Make hay when the sun shines... As the old saying goes. You can also say plow the fields when the sun shines, plant the crops when the sun shines... Etc etc
If I came up to work and only had 5 months to squeeze in a years worth of wages, I'd want to work as many hours as possible too.

Rich Richmond
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A liberal left-wing politician from Albany decides to retire and wants to buy a farm and raise chickens for a hobby. After all, he figures, how hard can it be? Even though he knows nothing about farming, he buys a Farm and trades in his thousand dollar suits for bib overalls.

The politician goes to the local Agway and orders 12 dozen baby chicks. 2 weeks later, he goes again to the Agway and orders the same. The clerk says to him, "I don't know where you're buying your chicken feed but I can match or beat the price." Puzzled the politician replies, "Maybe you could help me. My chickens are dying on me and I don't know why? How deep do you plant chickens and how far apart."

This illustrates why Albany beltway politicians should not sponsor Farm bills.

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