Letter: Hochul must protect state’s vital agricultural industry | Letters

Now that the Farm Laborers Wage board has made its recommendations, it is time for Gov. Kathy Hochul to put a stop to all of this. A number of issues are of great concern.

• Treatment of employees. There were many current farm employees who testified about their good working conditions. They explained why they like the current system. Many of them explained why they want to work as many hours as they can during the summer.

However, there were a number of allegations about how certain farmworkers are treated at their place of employment. If any of those incidents are true, why hasn’t the labor department investigated them?

• Why does the Wage board exist? Negotiation in good faith doesn’t appear to be a concept.

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Secondly, only one member of the board had agricultural experience. I understand you want people from different areas of employment. However, there must be others with some agricultural background that would make it seem less like stacking the deck.

• New York is now at a greater disadvantage than ever. Our minimum wage is higher. The average age for a farmer is 56 years old. Issues like these are another reason that young people are shying away from our industry.

• Farmers are moving from labor intensive crops to mechanically harvested crops. Many crops must be picked by hand. If we cannot find the workers, where will the fruit and vegetables come from? Who will milk the cows?

Lowering the overtime threshold is just one tree in the forest of regulations, rules and challenges facing agriculture in New York today. Please step back and see the entire forest, the cause and effect of this and other legislative decisions. Hochul must help protect a vital industry in New York – agriculture.

The Winery at Marjim Manor

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