Proposed legislation would hurt local farms say county officials

NORWICH – An official resolution that opposes stricter farm laborer regulations is likely to go before the Chenango County Board of Supervisors next month as local officials and agriculturalists attempt to thwart legislation they say would be detrimental to small farms across the state.

The proposed legislation, titled the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, would grant collective bargaining rights to farm laborers and demand farm employers to provide equal treatment to their help. The bill requires that laborers be given at least one day off every week and receive eight-hour work days and overtime rates at one and one-half times normal rate. Moreover, it mandates that farm laborers receive unemployment, workers’ compensation and disability insurance; and it ensures that young farm workers are no longer excluded from the Minimum Wage Act.

While activists of the proposed legislation tout it as an “equal rights” issue, local farmers say efforts to essentially unionize farmworkers conflicts with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s push to make New York the “Yogurt State” and would run hundreds of small ag operations out of business.

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