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Farmers, small business owners speak out against $15 minimum wage

Posted 21 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Provided photo – Darrel Oakes from LynOaken Farms in Lyndonville and Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina makes his appeal to state lawmakers to oppose the $15 minimum wage.

Press Release, NY Farm Bureau

BATAVIA – Small business owners and local farmers joined together today at The Days Inn in Batavia to ask state lawmakers to oppose the $15 minimum wage.

The April 1 budget deadline is just days away, and the coalition remains united in its efforts to defeat what will be a tough blow to local employers.

The consequences of a 67 percent wage hike are far reaching. The small businesses shared their personal stories of what this will mean to each of them, including the decisions that will have to be made to compensate for the major increase in labor costs. A reduction in the number of employees and an increase in automation are on the table should this proposal pass in Albany.

The impacts will be felt statewide. A recent report conducted by the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, found that at least 200,000 jobs will be lost across the state. A separate independent analysis by Farm Credit East estimates a $15 minimum wage in New York State would cost farmers between $387 and $622 million in 2021 at the peak of the wage rollout and nearly 2,000 farms would no longer be profitable.

Because of the statewide ramifications, today’s event coincided with more than a dozen others happening in communities across New York. It is a final push to make the compelling point to lawmakers that there are serious consequences, from job loss to higher consumer prices, should New York pass a $15 minimum wage. The small business owners asked their local lawmakers to vote no on $15.

“Businesses will be forced to raise prices to compensate. As a farmer, I cannot do this. I am a price taker not a price maker. This will make me uncompetitive with surrounding states, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, whose labor costs will be half what they are in New York. This will put some farms out of business or force them to move to a different state which will hurt our economy,” said Pat McCormick, a dairy farmer from Java Center and member of the NYFB board of directors.