Farming in New York state is under attack once again by people who have never set foot on a farm but think they know best how a farm should operate.
The New York Assembly, led by New York City lawmakers, passed the unnecessary Farm Workers Fair Labor Practices Act. There is already a long list of state and federal protections that oversee everything from workplace housing to health and safety standards to wages.
The Farm Labor Bill also is pushing for mandatory overtime on an individual eight-hour workday and collective bargaining. These may work for a factory, but not a family farm. If employees should choose to strike during a critical week of harvest, a year's livelihood could be lost. Our dairy cows in need of milking also would be put in harm's way.
Mother Nature dictates the work schedule, not the farmer. Overtime will force many farmers to limit workers to eight-hour shifts and seek other employees to fill in the gap.
The migrant farm workers who choose to come to this country to work hard for a given season would be shortchanged. Other farmers may simply choose to grow less labor-intensive row crops, giving up on planting fresh fruits and vegetables. The legacy and landscape of agriculture in New York will undoubtedly change.
In the end, farmers treat their employees well because it is not only the right thing to do, but because the farmers depend on their workers for important jobs. If employees were treated unfairly, they would simply find work elsewhere or not return the following year.
I encourage you to write to or call Gov. Andrew Cuomo and your state senator and explain that if this bill should pass, farmers and farm employees will be hurt.
MARTIN P. KELLY
President, Montgomery County Farm Bureau