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Farmers tell Hawley they’re concerned about impact of farm labor legislation

Staff Reports Posted 26 August 2019 at 11:11 am

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Steve Hawley’s Office: State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, right, was given a tour last Thursday of Kludt Brothers Farms in Kendall by Gary Kludt, left. Hawley is looking at crates of sweet corn ready for shipment. The Kludts are in their third generation as as growers of beets, corn, wheat, sweet corn and cabbage, which is shipped all over the Northeast.

KENDALL – During a three-county tour of farms last Thursday, State Assemblyman Steve Hawley said he heard from farmers they are concerned the legislation will increase their operating costs and also make it more difficult to find workers.

The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month and takes effect on Jan. 1.

“As a former farm operator, it was great to meet so many dedicated families that are driving New York’s agricultural sector here in Western New York,” Hawley said. “A consistent theme at all of the farms we visited was the new labor regulations pushed by downstate politicians and their detrimental effect on family farms throughout the state. Many owners are concerned about labor shortage during an already short growing season and the possibility of migrant workers leaving to earn more money in other states.”

The legislation will require overtime pay after 60 hours in one week. The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act also provides unemployment insurance, 24 consecutive hours of rest each week, and a sanitary code for all farm and food processing labor camps intended to house farm laborers. It also gives workers the rights to collective bargaining.

Hawley toured CY Farms in Elba, Zuber Farms LLC in Churchville, Kludt Bros Farm in Kendall, and Lynn-ette & Sons Inc. in Kent.

“I want to thank all the farm owners and their families for having me on a tour of their facilities,” Hawley said. “I understand how detrimental these new labor regulations can be to our agriculture sector and I will be pushing very hard to have a seat at the table for the Commissioner of Agriculture and Farm Bureau members on the new wage board.”

The farm owners are concerned the legislation will result in workers going to other states with fewer hourly and wage restrictions, Hawley said.

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