Ortt, several state senators want hearings across state on farm labor legislation
‘This legislation will dramatically impact the leading industry across much of New York. Considering the grave harm it could have on our state’s small family farms, hard-working farm employees, and consumers, it’s unfathomable that entire geographic regions and sectors of agriculture are excluded from the discussion.’ – State Sen. Robert Ortt
Press Release, State Sen. Robert Ortt
Today, Senator Rob Ortt (R,C,I,Ref-North Tonawanda) and his Senate Republican colleagues raised concerns over the release of hearings surrounding the proposed Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act.
In a letter to the respective Chairs of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate Labor Committee, they questioned the limited scope of only holding three hearings, which are set to take place in Nassau, Sullivan, and Madison counties. The Capital Region, Hudson Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western New York – along with farm industries specific to those regions – will be without input into the sweeping legislation.
“It’s disheartening to see that Senate Democrats ignored our request to host statewide hearings on the proposed farmworkers unionization legislation,” said Sen. Ortt. “This legislation will dramatically impact the leading industry across much of New York. Considering the grave harm it could have on our state’s small family farms, hard-working farm employees, and consumers, it’s unfathomable that entire geographic regions and sectors of agriculture are excluded from the discussion. Once again, I am calling on both Senators to expand their planned schedule and include hearings in the Capital Region, Hudson Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western New York.”
Joining Sen. Ortt in signing the letter were Senators Pamela A. Helming, Robert E. Antonacci, Rich Funke, George A. Amedore Jr., Chris Jacobs, Sue Serino, James N. Tedisco, Daphne Jordan, Betty Little, Thomas F. O’Mara and Fred Akshar. Last month, Sen. Ortt and his Senate colleagues authored a letter to the Agriculture and Labor chairs requesting that community hearings be held across the entire state. In a study conducted by Farm Credit East, it is estimated that the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act would add at least $299 million of costs on the backs of New York’s farming community, which would reduce net farm income by a staggering 23 percent.
(Editor’s Note: The hearing schedule is as follows: April 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at SUNY Morrisville in Morrisville; April 26 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Suffolk County Legislature in Smithtown, Long Island; and May 2 from 1 to 5 p.m. at SUNY Sullivan in Loch Sheldrake)
Sen. Betty Little (R,C,I-Queensbury) said, “This is an issue that could severely impact our agricultural industry causing a ripple effect throughout the state’s economy. Most farmers I know don’t have the time to travel a great distance to attend a public hearing, but they want to be heard. They deserve to be heard. That’s why we’re imploring our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to take the time to organize and hold hearings all across the state.”
Sen. Rich Funke (R,C,I-Fairport) said, “Holding hearings in upstate New York would force the Senate Majority to see first-hand the damage their policies are creating for upstate families and farmers. I can understand why they would prefer to stick their heads in the sand but we simply can’t allow it. If they want to shut down farms in my district, I’m calling on the Senate Democrats to at least look my constituents in the eye while they’re doing it. We need hearings on the Farm Labor Bill and we need them now.”