A Statement from Senator Pam Helming On the Passage of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

“While I commend the attempts to balance the needs of our farmers and their employees, the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act falls short. In fact, it should be named the Farmworkers Flee New York Act because it is simply more job-killing regulation, unrealistic for our small and large farms. This is what happens when New York City, a place that enjoys farmers markets but not farms, tries to legislate a business that they do not understand. It takes more than a few trips to farms to understand the daily toil or how weather and other variables impact day-to-day work.

“Farmers and their valued workers spoke up that this legislation will wilt their business. It will not create a harvest for upstate workers or farms. It will have a devastating impact on the industry as a whole, especially our small family operations and their hardworking employees. This is a direct assault on upstate New York’s top job creator.

“And so this is not a compromise at all. When Upstate speaks and downstate lawmakers fail to listen and legislate anyway to claim victory, it not a good day for New York.

“I live in an agricultural community, and unlike many who voted on this bill, I went out and spoke directly with farmworkers and farmers. Both groups were clear – this bill will destroy jobs and drive employers out of our state. Additionally, organizations from across the state who represent agriculture and tourism, the No. 1 and No. 2 economic drivers in New York State, have come out in opposition to this legislation.

“These organizations came to the table and were willing to compromise, but in the end, it is clear that a compromise that valued and appreciated the very different business of our farms – one that runs on patterns of weather, on the collaborative sweat of farmers standing shoulder to shoulder with their employees, was not reached.

“This is anything but fair or good for Upstate. We have already watched downstate politicians kill tens of thousands of potential jobs. Upstate lawmakers are a different crop. We like jobs and we believe that this legislation is bad. It is the nail in the coffin for Upstate’s economy.”