Giglio: ‘Farm Bill’ an unjust burden on farmers, agriculture

New York State Assemblyman Joseph M. Giglio (R,C,I-Gowanda) on May 13 expressed his opposition to the “Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act,” a New York City-sponsored bill that would essentially doom upstate farms and agriculture. Giglio cited the unnecessary and negative repercussions of the bill, as well as the high cost of operating a farm in New York State as reasons enough to vote ‘no’ on the legislation. The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act (A.1792-A) would create labor mandates, mandatory work hours and overtime pay, and additional regulations for farmers and their workers.

“Farming is beneficial to all New Yorkers and has been the cornerstone of upstate family life since this country was founded,” said Giglio. “To have New York City push its policy onto Upstate New York farmers is a huge mistake — this will doom upstate farms at a time when agriculture is seeing resurgence. Smart public policy should entail helping farmers expand their operations and encouraging a new generation of young farmers into the field; this bill does just the opposite and sets New York on a devastating path in the wrong direction.”

Giglio noted that since 2002 and most likely long before, the number of farms and acres of farmland in the 148th Assembly District has declined. This is due in part to the high cost of property taxes, burdensome farming regulations, and the losing margin at which farmers currently operate. He also cited the recent yogurt, beer, wine and organic farming booms that are directly impacting the growth of existing farms, and after years of decline, finally securing positive operating margins in some areas of the state.

“While the idea of this could be seen as commendable to a very small degree, perhaps New York City should leave well-enough alone and be proud of the fact that New York State farms are currently the best in the nation,” said Giglio. “When was the last time we saw Upstate New York dictating policy in New York City and downstate? Farmers are subject to the most extreme conditions — seasons, weather and instability in the marketplace — to put it simply, it’s always unpredictable. Until farmers can rely on a predictable schedule and work week, this bill should not even come to the floor for a vote. Until then, this bill should be considered ‘dead on arrival’ to everyone who supports farms and New York State’s agriculture industry.”

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