A Statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) on passage of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act:
“As the former owner and operator of our family farm for decades, I know these new mandates will devastate New York’s family farms and disrupt the industry beyond repair – an industry that generates $4.8 billion in annual revenue.
“Agriculture is a unique industry where production and success are contingent upon steady and reliable labor, and implementing more handcuffs on our farm owners and restricting the availability of that labor while increasing its costs will be devastating.
“Furthermore, mandating time-and-a-half overtime pay for any hours over 60 in a week is just not practical. Our farmers are constantly fighting flooding, drought and unpredictable weather patterns that often require unpredictable work hours, which is ultimately necessary to achieve success in the business.
“What’s more troubling is the establishment of a new board, headed by big-labor special interests, to further examine farm labor. The board wrongly excludes the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets and will undoubtedly heap mandate upon mandate and cost upon cost upon our family farms. We need to leave this industry alone and allow the farmers themselves, many of whom have been perfecting their craft for generations, to run their businesses as they see fit without government intrusion.
“New York City lawmakers have been behind this legislation from the beginning. Shocking, considering there are virtually no family farms in New York City. It’s an authoritarian overreach to dictate one of Upstate’s cornerstone industries from the towers and skyscrapers of the big city – another reason we need to consider my ‘Two New Yorks’ legislation.
“I voted no on these big government farm mandates and will always stand with the tried and true producers of Western New York before Downstate lawmakers.”