This bill would amend the labor law and require collective bargaining, overtime and disability for farm employees. The Business Council supports the New York Farm Bureau in its opposition to these proposals.
- Farmers are already rigorously regulated and inspected New York employers. They are already regulated by a variety of local, state, and federal agencies. Farmworker housing is inspected by local health departments and is subject to state and federal regulations. Farms are inspected for field sanitation and worker protection standards by the Departments of Labor and Environmental Conservation. The state and federal Departments of Agriculture and the Food & Drug Administration regulate farm food safety and inspect milking parlors and food production. The state and federal Departments of Labor inspect employee wage statements, register farm labor contractors, and inspect farm work agreements. The Department of Transportation licenses and enforces farm trucks and implements safety standards. Farm employers provide workers' compensation when the payroll is above $1,200 per year.
- The agricultural workforce is a crucial part of our state workforce. Because of its unique nature, this workforce in this industry was exempted years ago from regulations that generally apply to other groups of employees. These conditions have not changed and have become even more important due to global competition and the increase in the advantages of sourcing locally.
- Without farms in New York State, consumers will lose the benefits of local food production, open space, and the industries substantial support of our state economy.
- This issue is not one of justice. It is yet another example of New York State seeking to regulate and increase costs on businesses above and beyond other states. For every $100 of farm production sold, New York farmers pay $13.82 in labor costs. This compares to the national average of $8.88 in labor costs. New York farmers already pay about 56% higher labor costs than the average farm labor cost. New York farmers are treating workers fairly and well, and increasing mandates will result in the loss of more farm businesses and food production in New York State.
For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and respectfully urges that it not be enacted by the New York State Legislature.