New York Farmworker Protection Bill

What is it?

There is a bill before the New York State Legislature titled “The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act," often called the Farmworker Protection Bill for short. [S1743A-2013, the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act (http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S1743A-2013).] There is a great deal of misinformation surrounding this bill (rejected in its various forms for the past 25 years) as well as the issue of agricultural labor, in New York and beyond. This website aims to address these issues with the truth, to counter the propaganda promoted by advocates of the bill, including Rural Migrant Ministry, the Catholic Conference of New York and assorted unions. RMM and others have recruited various celebrities and “foodies” to support the bill, as well as downstate/New York City legislators, most of whom have never even been to a farm. We believe these individuals have been misled and have not done the proper research to find out the truth about farms, growers, farmworkers, and the challenges we face to bring fresh food to as many tables as possible.

What we are talking about are five or six exemptions to state labor law. These exemptions, like the one for overtime pay, exist because of the production and marketing realities associated with farming. Farming does not take place in an enclosed building with a regulated environment. We have a limited time to plant and harvest. If overtime is enacted, farmers will have to cut hours during the growing season so as to afford the extra hours needed at planting and harvest times which can’t be avoided. This may mean fewer overall hours and take home pay for farmworkers. And farmers do not control the prices we receive and cannot pass on increased costs. We absorb it or go out of business. Because of pricing and weather disasters, much of New York’s agriculture is reeling. Many farm owners’ farm income lands them below the federal poverty line. The majority of growers and farmers are not “in it for the money.”
We are in it because we love farming. Where would these self-appointed advocates and legislators who support them like the money to come from to pay for these mandates?

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This bill would make mono-cropping more attractive than growing a variety of produce.
Do you want to say goodbye to the huge variety of great local food we now enjoy?