Albany, NY- Governor Andrew Cuomo is soon expected to sign into law the controversial Farm Labor Bill, which was passed through the State Assembly this week and most recently was approved by the State Senate.
In the latest information from the office of Deputy Minority Leader Joe Griffo, the measure received neither his support or his vote. “While I recognize and respect the important role that farmworkers play in the state’s agriculture industry, I could not support this legislation,” he said. “I believe that it could have a detrimental effect on the viability and financial well-being of family farms at a time when many are already struggling.”
Compared to current farm labor costs, a Farm Credit East study revealed this legislation would increase those expenses by an estimated $300 million. Several farming groups and local coalitions have all expressed serious concern regarding this legislation.
“In Upstate New York, farming and agriculture is a way of life for many families and the backbone of our economy,” Deputy Minority Leader Griffo said. “In the three counties I represent, there are 2,845 farms. Unfortunately, this bill, sponsored by a downstate Senator from a district with no farms that will be impacted by this legislation, displays a fundamental lack of knowledge of how farms operate, as well as the problems rural communities face every day.”
Passed through the State Assembly Wednesday, Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C,I-Black River) called on the Governor to veto the bill. “New York state has lost thousands of farms in recent years, including a 20 percent reduction in dairy farms since 2012,” he said. “I’m urging the governor to veto this bill. Agriculture is a proud New York tradition. It is the cornerstone of my community, and it’s a tremendous economic driver for the state. This reckless legislation challenges all of that.”
According to the Assemblyman, this legislation would essentially dig already struggling family farms further into debt, with millions of dollars of new costs. Some of these include the requirement of farm employers to provide a full 8-hour work day for laborers, at least one full 24-hour day of rest and overtime rates of one and one-half times regular rates, all of which the assemblyman says would only hurt family farms.