Ranzenhofer Holds First Agriculture Advisory Meeting; Discusses proposed legislation that mandates overtime for farm workers

 

Pembroke, NY –  At his first Agricultural Advisory Committee Meeting last Saturday at Pembroke Town Hall, New York State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer discussed proposed legislation that could cripple the local agricultural industry by mandating overtime pay for farm workers.

“The proposed legislation would put New York farmers at a competitive disadvantage with other states and devastate the local agricultural industry.  Mandating overtime pay in the agricultural industry will pass higher prices along to consumers at the grocery store, force farms to close, and leave consumers with unsafe produce from other countries instead of from our own backyard.” said Senator Ranzenhofer. 

The proposed legislation (S5212) requires mandatory overtime, one day of rest per week and contributions to federal unemployment insurance for farm workers.  Currently, farm workers are excluded from time and a half pay and unemployment insurance under New York State law.  The legislation has received criticism from numerous members of the agriculture community.

“Mandatory day of rest would require more migratory employees to manage the harvest, creating more burdens on a limited H2A farm laborer system.  Leaving crops unharvested and wasted in the fields will not help to feed our consumers with local, fresh, safe food.  While the legislation has a feel good sentiment, the impact would leave the food, high quality food lay to waste,” said Shelley Stein from Stein Farms, LLC in LeRoy.

Senator Ranzenhofer has formed the Agricultural Advisory Committee to discuss State issues important to preserving the financial and economic stability of the local agricultural industry.  Agriculture, a critical economic engine in Genesee County,  is the largest industry in New York State. 

Focusing on scientific based legislation rather than over burdensome regulations, streamlining the dual layer of regulations between the State and federal government and supporting research institutions such as Cornell University were among the topics discussed at the inaugural meeting.

“Committee members can bring issues to my attention that I may be unaware of and I can ask for their input on pieces of legislation.  I do not pretend to know everything about agriculture, but with the help of the Agricultural Advisory Committee, I will ensure that the agricultural community’s voice is heard clearly in Albany,” said Senator Ranzenhofer. 

“It was a great idea for the Senator to reach out to the Agricultural community.  He listened intently to our problems and issues,” said Hans Mobius from Equine Maple Row Farm in Clarence.

Members of the committee include: Bill Crocker and Tom Wheeler, Carolina-Eastern Crocker, LLC in LeRoy; George Squires, Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District; Hans Mobius, Equine Maple Row Farm in Clarence; Hal Kreher, Kreher’s Farm Fresh Eggs in Clarence; John Duyssen, Duyssen Farms in Stafford; Robin Denniston-Keller, Genesee County Farm Bureau and Denniston-Keller Jersey Farm; Bill Young, Upstate Niagara Cooperative;  Shelley Stein, Stein Farms LLC in LeRoy; Craig Yunker, CY Farms in Elba; Maureen Torrey-Marshall, Torrey Farms in Elba; Patrick and Charlene Spoth, Kelklenberg Farms in Clarence; and Mike and Louise Badding, Badding Brothers Farm in East Amherst.

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