The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act is another example of a bill with a benign name that will have a devastating impact on a critical New York industry. This bill would, for the first time, extend to farms a number of expensive and complicated regulations and unfunded mandates that would make it more difficult for farmers to survive. The bill also would allow farm worker collective bargaining, which would lead to crippling strikes at planting and harvesting time, jeopardizing the food supply. Agriculture in New York always has been exempt from these regulations because of the short growing season and the perishable nature of the product. This exemption should continue.
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, most New York farms operate at a loss. Meanwhile, New York State farmers already pay workers 56% more than the national average. In fact, New York ranks second among the 50 states in wages paid to farm workers.
The sponsor of this bill misled the members today by erroneously stating that family farms are exempt from this legislation. In fact, family farms, which make up 89.4% of the farms in the state, are not exempt from this bill. The record was corrected by the Assembly minority, but it is alarming that a bills sponsor could so blatantly mislead the Assembly on a bill that will impact one of upstates biggest industries.
The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act is yet another example of the New York City delegation forsaking an upstate industry to appease the New York City special interests that fund their campaigns. Joining me in opposing the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act are the Farm Bureau, the New York State Vegetable Growers Association, the Northeast Ag and Feed Alliance as well as family farmers and consumers in Dutchess County and around the state.