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       2      AND
       3     -----------------------------------------------------

       4                        PUBLIC HEARING:

       5                  TO HEAR PUBLIC TESTIMONY ON
                               Little Theater
       8                       SUNY Morrisville
                               Student Activities Center
       9                       80 Eaton Street
                               Morrisville, New York
                               Date:  April 25, 2019
      11                       Time:  11:00 a.m.

                 Senator Jen Metzger
      14         Chair, Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture

      15         Senator Jessica Ramos
                 Chair, Senate Standing Committee on Labor
                 Senator Rachel May
      18         Chair, Rural Resources Committee

              ALSO PRESENT:
                 Senator Velmanette Montgomery






              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Michael McMahon                           16       20
       3      Partner
              E-Z Acres, LLC
              Yusuf Harper                              23       26
       5      Owner
              Pure Grown, LLC
              Crispin Hernandez                         27       31
       7      Member
              Rebecca Fuentes
       8      Lead Organizer
              Workers Center of NY
              Art Gladstone                             33       37
      10      Retired Farm Labor Specialist
              NYS Department of Labor (retired)
              David Fisher                              41       45
      12      President
              New York Farm Bureau
              Angela Cornell                            51       54
      14      Professor of Law
              Cornell Labor Studies
              Lucio Rene Villanueva                     56       59
      16      Farmworker
              Hemdale Farms and Greenhouses
              Angelo Ocampo
      18      Supervisor for H2A workers
              Hansen Farms and Hemdale Farms
      19        and Greenhouses

      20      Matthew Critz                             61       64
      21      Critz Farms

      22      John Clark                                67
      23      Northeast Agribusiness and
                Feed Alliance



              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Lon Stephens                              70
       3      General Manager
              Cooperative Feed Dealers
              Judi Whittaker                            74
       5      Part Owner
              Whittaker Farms, LLC
              Karin Reeves                              77       81
       7      Owner
              Samuel Montelongo
       8      Farmworker
              Reeves Farm
              Alfredo Mejia                             83       85
      10      Farmer
              My-t Acres, Inc.
              Stuart Mitchell                           85       90
      12      President/CEO
              Pathstone Corporation
              Jesse Mulbury                             93       96
      14      Farmer
              Northern Orchard
              Herbert Engman                           101      105
      16      Former Ithaca Town Councilor
              Ithaca, New York
              Yusuf Abdul-Qadir                        107      111
      18      Director
              Central New York NYCLU
              Travis Torrey                            113
      20      Farm Manager
              Leandro Mateos-Gaytan
      21      Farmworker
              Torrey Farms
              Librada Paz                              121      125
      23      Advocate
              Rural and Migrant Ministry



              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Gabriela Quintanilla                     129
       3      Western New York Coordinator
              Rural and Migrant Ministry
              Diana Caba                               131      136
       5      Senior Director of Economic Empowerment
              Hispanic Federation
              Anthony Emmi                             137      140
       7      Owner/Partner
              Emmi and Sons, Inc.
              Jose Vega                                146      147
       9      Farmworker
              Emmi and Sons, Inc.
              Jose Chapa                               150      153
      11      Legislative Coordinator
              Justice for Farmworkers
              Jason Turek                              154
      13      Farmer
              Leonardo Resendiz Perez
      14      Farmworker
              Mayolo Rivera
      15      Farmworker
              Turek Farms
              Bruce W. Krupke                          158      162
      17      Executive Vice President
              Northeast Dairy Foods Association, Inc.
              Irvin Temich                             163
      19      Farmworker
              Phil Hall
      20      Partner
              Schum-Acres Dairy OPS
              Paul Baker                               169      173
      22      Director
              NYS Horticultural Society




              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Kim Skellie                              173      177
       3      Owner
              Matt Wunder
       4      Farmworker
              El-Vi Farms
              Jeremy Brown                             180
       6      Partner & Dairy Manager
              Twin Birch Dairy
              David Randall                            183
       8      Farmer
              Co-Vale Holsteins
              Bruce Gibson                             187
      10      Partner
              Locust Hill Dairy, LLC
              Matt Igoe                                192      196
      12      Sales Manager
              HV Farms
              Meghan Hauser                            197      201
      14      Co-Owner
              Table Rock Farm, Inc.
              Samantha DeRiso                          203
      16      President
              Central NY Labor Council
              Bret J. Bossard                          207
      18      Farmer
              Lupareo Perez-Carbajal
      19      Farmworker
              Barbland Dairy, LLC
              Paul Fouts                               212      216
      21      Farmer
              Fouts Farm
              Jeremy Mapstone                          218      222
      23      Dairy Operations Manager
              Pastureland Dairy, LLC



              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Mark Russell                             223
       3      Farmer
              Two of Clubs Orchard
              Marilu Aguilar                           228
       5      Farmworker Justice Committee
              Spiritus Christi Church
              Zaid Kurdieh                             233      237
       7      Managing Partner & President
              Norwich Meadows Farm
              Bill Banker                              238      240
       9      Director or Agri-Mark
              Also, President of Northeast
      10        Cooperative Council

      11      Corinne Banker
              Wife of Bill Banker
              Jon Greenwood                            242
      13      Owner of Greenwood Dairy
              Also, Chair of Northeast Dairy
      14        Producers Association













       1             SENATOR METZGER:  Are we ready?

       2             If you could take your seats, we're going to

       3      get started.

       4             We have -- I'm very happy that we have a long

       5      list speakers today.

       6             So my name is Jen Metzger.  I am the Senate

       7      Chair of the Agriculture Committee.

       8             I want to welcome you on behalf of the

       9      Agriculture Committee, and also on behalf of the

      10      Labor Committee, we're holding joint hearings.

      11             I just want to mention that the -- our -- the

      12      Chair of the Labor Committee, Jessica Ramos, is --

      13      got delayed.  She got stuck in traffic on the

      14      thruway, there was some kind of accident.  So she'll

      15      be joining us later.  She is the sponsor of this

      16      bill.

      17             And I want to thank Rachel May, my colleague,

      18      who chairs the Rural Resources Committee for

      19      being -- for being a co-host of this -- of this

      20      first hearing.

      21             It -- this is one of the several hearings

      22      that we'll be holding on the Farmworker (sic) Fair

      23      Laborers (sic) Practices Act.

      24             It is, in my view, vital to receive direct

      25      input from farmers, farmworkers, and the public


       1      about this important legislation.

       2             These are the first hearings on this subject

       3      in nearly a decade, and the first held outside of

       4      Albany.

       5             Tomorrow we'll be holding a second hearing in

       6      Suffolk County, and on May 2nd we'll be holding a

       7      third hearing in Sullivan County.

       8             As Chair of the Agriculture -- Senate

       9      Agriculture Committee, and the representative of

      10      many farmers and farmworkers in Ulster, Orange,

      11      Delaware, and Sullivan counties, I recognize that

      12      this proposed legislation will greatly impact

      13      farming in New York.

      14             The purpose of these public hearings is to

      15      hear from farmers and farmworkers alike as we weigh

      16      this legislation, and learn directly from you about

      17      the realities of small and family-owned farm

      18      operations in New York, and listen to the concerns

      19      and needs of all those who will be affected by the

      20      proposed legislation.

      21             New York has deep roots in farming.  It

      22      represents $4.2 billion of our economy, and is an

      23      integral part of our rural heritage and culture.

      24             In contrast to agriculture in other parts of

      25      the country, most of New York's farms are small and


       1      midsized and family-owned.  Over half of the farms

       2      in our state are under 100 acres.

       3             Today our farms are a pivotal engine of the

       4      state's economy, and vital to the well-being of our

       5      rural communities and the state's long-term food

       6      security, yet many of New York's small and midsize

       7      farms are struggling, and despite the popular local

       8      food movement, increasing numbers of people in rural

       9      and urban communities are experiencing foods'

      10      insecurity.

      11             We have to work collaboratively to find

      12      solutions that sustain our system of farming and our

      13      long-term food security.

      14             I want to thank all of you for being here.

      15             I know this is actually a very hard time of

      16      year for farmers and farmworkers alike to come to a

      17      hearing, to get off of the farm, and we're really

      18      appreciative of that.

      19             And I want to turn it over to my colleague

      20      Senator May.

      21             Thank you very much.

      22             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      23             Greetings, everyone.

      24             I'm Senator Rachel May, and I represent

      25      the 53rd Senate District, which includes


       1      Madison County.

       2             So welcome to my district if you have come

       3      from far away.

       4             I also represent much of Onondaga County,

       5      including most of the city of Syracuse, and part of

       6      Oneida County.

       7             I concur with Senator Metzger that it's very

       8      important that we hear from many voices, and

       9      I advocated strongly that we have a hearing in this

      10      region of the state, because I know, especially this

      11      time of year, for farmers to travel much farther

      12      would be very difficult.

      13             And so I am -- I welcome all of you here.

      14             I also want to welcome some of the other

      15      elected officials who are here.

      16             We have Assemblyman Brian Miller here,

      17      Assemblyman John Salka, and Assemblyman Al Stirpe.

      18             And we have representatives from

      19      Senator Antonacci's office, and

      20      Senator Robert Jackson's office, and also

      21      Senator Magnarelli's -- I mean,

      22      Assemblyman Magnarelli's office.

      23             We are also expecting, in addition to

      24      Senator Ramos, Senator Velmanette Montgomery coming

      25      up from, Queens --


       1             Is that...

       2             -- anyway, Manhattan -- or -- or,

       3      New York City.

       4             And we -- she also said she would be a little

       5      bit late.

       6             But one of the things that I have made a

       7      priority, is to make sure that we bring people from

       8      the city -- some of the Senators from the city up

       9      here to see and hear what the issues are in upstate,

      10      because it is so important that we in the Senate

      11      Majority are actively representing the entire state.

      12             And so I'm excited to have all of these

      13      Senators here today, and also all of you.

      14             And I especially want to thank our host here,

      15      SUNY Morrisville, which has graciously allowed to us

      16      use this beautiful theater.

      17             I want to introduce the president of

      18      SUNY Morrisville who began his term in 2015.

      19             Prior to that he served as the college's

      20      provost, dean of the College of School of Business,

      21      and interim dean of the Norwich Campus in the School

      22      of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

      23             He earned his Ph.D. in labor economics,

      24      collective bargaining, and econometrics from the

      25      SUNY College of Industrial Labor Relations at


       1      Cornell University, and he holds a master's degree

       2      from Cornell and a bachelor's degree from the

       3      University of Massachusetts.

       4             Please welcome, David Rogers.

       5                [Applause.]

       6             PRES. DAVID ROGERS:  Thanks.

       7             Thank you, Senator.

       8             Whenever I hear that introduction, I somehow

       9      feel a lot older than I feel.

      10             But, anyway, thank you, Senator Metzger and

      11      Senator May.

      12             Your leadership for this event is

      13      unquestioned, and I very much appreciate your

      14      choosing SUNY Morrisville as the location for this

      15      conversation.

      16             Let me just say, in a very brief commercial,

      17      you may or may not know, Morrisville was founded

      18      over 100 years ago, in 1908, as an agricultural

      19      institution, a farmers' college.

      20             And men and women came here to learn a wide

      21      variety of skills attendant to increasing farm

      22      production throughout New York State.

      23             The college was founded, largely, in response

      24      to rising food prices, unsafe food systems, and it

      25      was an effort to bring technology, largely learn


       1      from Cornell research, to the practitioners, the

       2      farmers and the workers, in the agriculture

       3      industry.

       4             So I think it's incredibly appropriate that

       5      you have assembled here, and we're thrilled that you

       6      have.

       7             I think it's fair to say that, in the last

       8      100-plus years, Morrisville's learned something

       9      about learning and research in agriculture, and

      10      often it starts at a most basic level with direct

      11      acquisition of information, and that often starts

      12      with a conversation face-to-face, much like we're

      13      doing here.

      14             So, for all elected officials in the

      15      audience, and everyone who is in attendance, and

      16      especially for the Senators, I appreciate your

      17      courage in investing in this direct research method.

      18             It's tried-and-trued and it's very

      19      successful.

      20             So, thank you again for being here at

      21      Morrisville.  We're thrilled that we can continue to

      22      offer this forum in which you can engage in

      23      important discussions.

      24             So thank you again, Senators, and thank you,

      25      everyone.


       1             I am going to head back and do things that

       2      college presidents do, like go to a college council

       3      meeting that I'm in the middle of.

       4             Since I'm not exactly a direct farmer, I will

       5      not speak today.  But I will let you know that

       6      I have a keen interest in agriculture, because

       7      almost all of our graduates, in one way or another,

       8      have -- in the School of Agriculture, have become

       9      leaders, including -- small commercial -- including

      10      two ag commissioners.

      11             So thank you again for being here, and I'll

      12      leave you to the great work that you're about to

      13      begin.

      14             Thanks.

      15                [Applause.]

      16             SENATOR MAY:  So before we begin, I want to

      17      mention a few ground rules here.

      18             We know that this topic can elicit passions,

      19      and we expect to hear a lot of different

      20      perspectives here today.

      21             We are asking everyone to keep your comments

      22      respectful and your responses respectful because

      23      this is about dialogue.

      24             We also ask you to use the time that you have

      25      to state your positions, and any recommendations you


       1      have to make the proposed legislation better.

       2             There are going to be four minutes for each

       3      speaker, and we have a timer here, and someone in

       4      the front row who will hold up a sign when there's

       5      one minute to go.

       6             And we're going to have the people testifying

       7      sit over here.

       8             In the interest of time, because we have so

       9      many people, it would be good if two or three people

      10      would come forward at a time, and just sit and wait

      11      their turn, because, otherwise, we'll spend a lot of

      12      time in transition between the speakers.

      13             And you can -- there's a stairway over there

      14      on that side that you can come up.

      15             We also are accepting written testimony

      16      through May 3rd.

      17             So if you are here and are not on the program

      18      to speak, we -- you can submit your written

      19      testimony.  So, please see one of our staff members

      20      and they will tell you how to do that.

      21                (Off-the-record discussion.)

      22             SENATOR MAY:  Right.

      23             So we have received written statements from

      24      everybody who is testifying today.

      25             We highly recommend that you not read it


       1      word-for-word, but that you summarize or tell us

       2      what you're thinking.

       3             It's much easier to listen to that, because

       4      this is going to be a long hearing, and it also

       5      gives you the opportunity to really get eye contact

       6      with us and, you know, say what's on your mind.

       7             You should also know that this hearing is

       8      being live-streamed.

       9             We have wonderful staff here from the

      10      New York State Senate who are streaming this.  And

      11      it will be recorded for the Senate record, so you

      12      can find it online.

      13             I also want to say we have Ari Mir-Pontier

      14      here from Senator Metzger's office, who will be

      15      doing translation to and from Spanish for anyone who

      16      needs it.

      17             So, for now, my biggest request is that you

      18      silence your cell phones, and let's move to our

      19      first witnesses.

      20             Michael McMahon, please come forward.

      21             And Elizabeth Henderson, I understand is not

      22      here.

      23             So, Yusuf Harper, if Yusuf Harper is here,

      24      and Crispin Hernandez and Rebecca Fuentes, could

      25      come up here, please.


       1             Thank you.

       2             MICHAEL McMAHON:  New York State Senate

       3      Chairs Ramos and May -- Metzger and May, thank you

       4      for this opportunity to testify before you today.

       5             Every farm in New York State may potentially

       6      be greatly impacted by the proposed Farmworker (sic)

       7      Fair Labor Practices Act.

       8             E-Z Acres, LLC, is an 800-cow, 2200-acre

       9      family-owned farm in Cortland County.

      10             We've been in business for 33 years, my

      11      father before me in the same location since 1956.

      12             As employers of 11 full-time agricultural

      13      workers, we've looked carefully at this legislation,

      14      and from the perspective of employers who respect

      15      and value our hard-working employees, we concur with

      16      the following aspects of this legislation:

      17             That no employee should work more than a

      18      six-day week.  The body and soul need a day of rest.

      19      This has always been our farm's policy;

      20             That paid vacation, paid sick days, and paid

      21      personal days for full-time workers are a must.

      22      We've provided this to all of our workers for over

      23      20 years;

      24             That all workers be covered by

      25      workmen's (sic) comp and unemployment insurance.


       1             In fact, all dairy farms that meet the

       2      State's payroll threshold for comp and unemployment

       3      are already providing these benefits;

       4             The disability insurance is an affordable

       5      benefit that we are willing to provide;

       6             That all workers, regardless of their country

       7      of origin, be allowed to hold a New York State

       8      driver license.  This would benefit both workers and

       9      their employers who often dedicate considerable time

      10      to transporting employees to stores, banks, and

      11      doctors' appointments;

      12             That housing, when it is provided, should

      13      meet certain standards of quality and be open to

      14      inspection by a third-party agency;

      15             That we do not oppose the right to collective

      16      bargaining, with some stipulations.

      17             However, in the matter of time and a half,

      18      overtime on a 40-hour workweek and beyond an 8-hour

      19      day, this provision has the potential to cause great

      20      harm to an already suffering farm economy.

      21             The dairy industry has endured five years of

      22      extreme financial duress.

      23             If this law is enacted, Farm Credit East, a

      24      major ag lender, has calculated that farms like mine

      25      will see FarmNet income completely wiped out.


       1             It will cost our farm a minimum of an

       2      additional 95,000 in the first year, and a payroll

       3      budget that is already strained by the increasing

       4      New York State minimum wage.

       5             Our workers are averaging over $39,000 per

       6      year, plus housing and utilities.

       7             We're already at a disadvantage with our

       8      neighboring states who operate in the same northeast

       9      milkshed, whose minimum wages are from 23 to

      10      35 percent below New York's.

      11             Our businesses cut costs everywhere we

      12      possibly can.  I have no idea how we'll shoulder

      13      this burden.  As dairy farmers, we cannot pass along

      14      this expense.

      15             Our only option would be to limit our workers

      16      to 40 hours, and facing decreased earnings, they

      17      have said they will leave.

      18             FarmNet estimates that the overtime

      19      requirement will lead to a loss of 20 to 25 percent

      20      of New York's family farms in the first year alone.

      21             As the chairman of the Cortland County

      22      Industrial Agency, I can tell with you all certainty

      23      that the exodus of farms would have a devastating

      24      effect on our rural economy.

      25             Equipment dealers, mechanics, welders,


       1      electricians, feed stores, veterinaries, diners,

       2      clothing, and grocery stores who provide goods and

       3      services to farms and their employees will also

       4      lose.

       5             My son is the sixth-generation McMahon to

       6      produce milk in Cortland County, and I'm asking you

       7      not to make him the last generation.

       8             Thank you for this opportunity.

       9             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      10             Do you want to ask?

      11             SENATOR METZGER:  Yes.

      12             If I could just ask one question.

      13             First of all, I just want to express my

      14      appreciation for your comments, and for highlighting

      15      the aspects of the bill that you support, as well as

      16      those aspects that are problematic.

      17             I just -- for you, I just wanted to ask if

      18      you had an alternative recommendation on the

      19      provision of overtime.

      20             MICHAEL McMAHON:  I think 60 hours would be

      21      much more reasonable.

      22             My Latino workers will not work for us if we

      23      can't guarantee them 62 to 65 hours a week.  They

      24      will not work for us.

      25             SENATOR METZGER:  And what percentage do they


       1      make up of your farmworkers?

       2             MICHAEL McMAHON:  They -- I have eight Latino

       3      workers, and -- besides the four owners, because we

       4      brought in two junior partners, my son and another

       5      unrelated young man.

       6             So we all provide labor, but the actual

       7      employees, there are eight Latinos and two local

       8      workers.

       9             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      10             SENATOR MAY:  I also have a question about,

      11      just the economics of it.

      12             So if workers were to make overtime, would

      13      you expect them to be more productive and to be able

      14      to work fewer hours than you have them working now,

      15      or is the number of hours just the number of hours

      16      that needs to be worked?

      17             MICHAEL McMAHON:  Senator, it's a struggle to

      18      get them to keep their hours to that.

      19             They would work 80 if I would allow it.

      20             We just don't allow it on our farm.

      21             But I don't know that we would see any

      22      increased efficiencies by it.  They're going to make

      23      more money and they would be happy.

      24             So, I don't know how else to answer that.

      25             SENATOR MAY:  Well, I'm more thinking, if


       1      they're going to make more money for overtime, then,

       2      you know, working 80 hours now would be -- would net

       3      them, roughly, the same of working 60 hours with

       4      overtime pay.

       5             And I'm wondering, would they -- if they were

       6      working fewer hours, would you expect them to be

       7      more productive?

       8             Like, you wouldn't need that many more hours

       9      of their time to accomplish the work that you need

      10      to do.

      11             MICHAEL McMAHON:  The schedules are pretty

      12      rigid.

      13             I mean, when we milk cows three times a day,

      14      it's pretty rigid.

      15             They -- as an owner, you know, I'm 67.  I'm

      16      still working 70, 75 hours a week.

      17             But, regardless of that, I don't -- I'm not

      18      sure -- I just -- there's this many hours of work

      19      that have to be done.

      20             SENATOR MAY:  Okay, that was really the

      21      question.

      22             Thank you.

      23             MICHAEL McMAHON:  Yeah, yeah.

      24             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      25             MICHAEL McMAHON:  Thank you.


       1             YUSUF HARPER:  Thank you for this

       2      opportunity.

       3             I agree almost totally with the preceding

       4      speaker.  I am not in dairy, however.

       5             My name is Yusuf Harper.

       6             I'm an organic farmer from Chenango County.

       7             I have three to five H2A workers, primarily

       8      from Guatemala.

       9             If this bill is passed it's going to harm my

      10      workers.

      11             It would be great if I could pay them

      12      stockbroker salary.  I'd love to do it.  They work

      13      harder, and many times they're just as smart.

      14             Why can't I do that; why can't I pay them

      15      time and a half after 40 hours?

      16             It's called "margin."

      17             I have no ability to increase my prices 20 to

      18      25 percent that it would take to cover costs without

      19      loss of sales.

      20             This bill does nothing to block my

      21      competitors from Pennsylvania, New Jersey,

      22      California, Mexico, Chile, Canada, from selling in

      23      the market, and who will be able to undercut my

      24      prices because of lower labor costs.

      25             If this bill passes, it will be much more


       1      cost-effective for me to -- to -- even with -- even

       2      with the increased costs of housing and

       3      transportation, it will be much more easy for me to

       4      cap -- to hire more workers, cap their hours, okay,

       5      than to pay the time and a half.

       6             But my costs will be substantially higher

       7      under any of those circumstances.

       8             And with this, my workers, who seek to

       9      maximize their seasonal earnings, will be, in fact,

      10      earning less.  That's not what they want.

      11             We work in a -- on a seasonal basis.

      12             We work by sunlight, okay, unlike -- unlike

      13      our dairy farmers who work a 24-hour schedule.

      14             We're restricted by sunlight.

      15             So there's a maximum amount of time that they

      16      can earn the amount of money they need and want to

      17      earn.

      18             So, my overall costs go up, my revenue goes

      19      down, and each worker earns less.

      20             Is there anyone in business that thinks this

      21      is a winning strategy?

      22             Doesn't sound like it to me.

      23             It's a curious bill, in that it doesn't

      24      mandate that the farmer earn a minimum wage for over

      25      40 hours a week.


       1             It's also curious that it doesn't have any

       2      mandates about tariffs on produce and other farm

       3      items that come into the state from outside.

       4             So what this bill, in fact, does is:

       5             It puts my farm at risk of survival because

       6      I will have increased costs without the ability to

       7      pass on those costs to customers;

       8             It puts my workers at risk because, if

       9      I don't have a farm, I don't need farmworkers, and

      10      then they don't have an income;

      11             It actually reduces the amount my farmworkers

      12      can earn to take back home.

      13             In the long run, it promotes using less labor

      14      by using more machinery, which doesn't require

      15      complex paperwork, yearly angst over bureaucracy and

      16      delays, and no overtime.

      17             In an attempt to do good, this bill, if

      18      passed, will be anti-farmer, anti-farm community, as

      19      we just heard, and, importantly, anti-farmworker.

      20             It is one more way of saying New York doesn't

      21      like agriculture, doesn't want viable farms, and

      22      doesn't want healthy small communities.

      23             It appears that the people -- to the people

      24      of agriculture in New York that what is wanted is

      25      widget-makers with widget-workers, possibly robots,


       1      in widget-villes, and widget-food produced in other

       2      places.

       3             On behalf of my workers and my community,

       4      whom I care deeply about, don't pass this bill.

       5             Thank you.

       6             SENATOR MAY:  So you mentioned, though, that

       7      you do support some aspects of the bill.

       8             Is it just the overtime?

       9             YUSUF HARPER:  Just like the previous farmer,

      10      we do all of those things that he does as well.

      11             If there has to be a limit -- my workers are

      12      just like his.  They want to maximize their hours.

      13      They don't want to minimize their hours.

      14             If there has to be a minimum, 60 is much

      15      closer than 40.

      16             SENATOR MAY:  Okay.  And just because you

      17      mentioned it, have you ever calculated your own

      18      hourly take-home pay?

      19             YUSUF HARPER:  I'm a retired physician.

      20             When I started this farm, okay, you know what

      21      physician's hours are.  I would stop my practice and

      22      I would go to work on the farm.

      23             There would be many hours -- many days when

      24      we would be packing trucks at 12:00 to 2:00 in the

      25      morning so that I could go to work the next day.


       1             That's farming, that's how you get farms

       2      started.

       3             SENATOR MAY:  Okay.  Thank you.

       4             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

       5                (Crispin Hernandez testifies in Spanish,

       6        and translated to English by Ari Mir-Pontier.)

       7             CRISPIN HERNANDEZ:  Hello.

       8             My name is Crispin Hernandez.

       9             Right?

      10             This is my co-worker Rebecca.

      11             So I'm a member of the Workers Center of

      12      Central New York, a membership-based organization

      13      located in Syracuse.

      14             REBECCA FUENTES:  Sorry.

      15             And he is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit

      16      against the State of New York, along with the Worker

      17      Justice Center and Workers Center of Central

      18      New York, to win the protective right to organize.

      19                (Crispin Hernandez continues to

      20        testify in Spanish, now translated to

      21        English by Rebecca Fuentes.)

      22             CRISPIN HERNANDEZ:  I'm here representing the

      23      interests of farmworkers, members of the Workers

      24      Center, and other workers in New York.

      25             I'm also here representing workers who are


       1      not able to be here because of the long hours that

       2      they work, and that they would like to be here also.

       3             I was a farmworker for three years, and

       4      I worked at a dairy farm called Marks Farm, one of

       5      the biggest farms in the north of the -- in the

       6      North Country.

       7             When I started working there, I was making --

       8      started work, making $7.25 an hour, 12-hour days,

       9      6 days a week.

      10             I had an accident at the farm when a cow step

      11      on my hand.

      12             I asked for help to the owner, and the son --

      13      the daughter of the owner, and they didn't help me,

      14      they didn't take me to the doctor or hospital.

      15             In March of 2015, the son of the owner --

      16      the -- no, the son-in-law of the owner fire one of

      17      my co-workers in a violent manner in front of my --

      18      an unjust manner in front of my co-workers.

      19             This happened in front of many workers who

      20      couldn't do anything or say anything because they

      21      were afraid.

      22             I helped to organize a rally against this, to

      23      protest what has happened to my co-worker.

      24             Then I was demoted because -- as an

      25      interrelation tactic.


       1             Then I asked for help to form a committee so

       2      that I could help my other co-workers.

       3             One evening I was with my co-workers after

       4      work, at a meeting, and the owner -- the son of the

       5      owner came over to interrupt, and he called the

       6      local police and the state police, and they

       7      intimidated me and the co-workers and the

       8      organizers.

       9             We resisted intimidation, and we decided that

      10      we were going to meet again the next week.

      11             The next week only two workers showed up,

      12      myself and another worker, because we -- they were

      13      afraid because of the intimidation with the police.

      14             SENATOR MAY:  We need to speed this up, so if

      15      you --

      16             REBECCA FUENTES:  Yeah, it is hard when you

      17      are interpreting --

      18             SENATOR MAY:  I know, I totally understand.

      19             REBECCA FUENTES:  -- so I think that should

      20      have been taken into account.

      21             SENATOR MAY:  It is, but I -- just to be as

      22      quick as possible.

      23             REBECCA FUENTES:  Right, but it's probably

      24      not very fair.

      25                (Inaudible audience comment.)


       1             SENATOR MAY:  Right.

       2             REBECCA FUENTES:  Yeah.

       3             SENATOR MAY:  I think it's already been --

       4      I'm just saying, if we can --

       5             REBECCA FUENTES:  No, we'd read it ourselves,

       6      and it was more -- it was around the time.

       7             SENATOR MAY:  Is -- are we -- okay, fine.  No

       8      problem.

       9             REBECCA FUENTES:  I would say, let's just go

      10      to the last part.

      11             (Crispin Hernandez continues to testify in

      12      Spanish, and Rebecca Fuentes continues to translate

      13      to English.)

      14             CRISPIN HERNANDEZ:  We kept strong, and we

      15      went educating workers, from trailer to trailer,

      16      educating workers about what was going on.

      17             But the next day, my co-worker and myself, we

      18      were fired.

      19             REBECCA FUENTES:  So maybe it's better if you

      20      ask questions about this.

      21             This is relating about intimidation because

      22      of the -- not having the protected right to

      23      organize.

      24             So it could be a good idea now.

      25             There's more about that, and more of the


       1      things, so maybe you can ask questions.

       2             SENATOR MAY:  I have a question.

       3             So you mentioned the lawsuit that you're

       4      involved in.

       5             Is it -- is the proposal in this bill enough

       6      to make that lawsuit unnecessary?

       7                (Rebecca Fuentes now translating English to

       8        Spanish, and Spanish to English, for

       9        Crispin Hernandez.)

      10             SENATOR MAY:  Would it solve the problem?

      11             CRISPIN HERNANDEZ:  Yeah, the -- the -- what

      12      is -- what we have in the lawsuit is included in

      13      this law, and, most importantly, is to have a voice

      14      in the workplace, more equality.

      15             Because, nowadays, if workers speak up and

      16      just say something, employers intimidate them and,

      17      like in my case, with the police.

      18             SENATOR MAY:  So is it particularly the right

      19      to organize that is the element of this bill that

      20      would be -- would solve that problem?

      21             CRISPIN HERNANDEZ:  Yeah, that is correct.

      22             But I want to also bring up, it's important

      23      the day off.  There are many workers who work seven

      24      days a week.  And also the overtime pay.

      25             So I just want to say, our work is very


       1      important.  And I know that a lot of farm owners,

       2      the employers, complain a lot.  But our work is

       3      very, very important to put food on the table.

       4             SENATOR METZGER:  Can I just ask about how

       5      many farmworkers were employed on this -- on that

       6      farm?

       7             REBECCA FUENTES:  How many?

       8             CRISPIN HERNANDEZ:  60 workers -- at that

       9      particular farm, 60 workers.

      10             And, in general, there are between -- around

      11      60,000 workers.

      12             We want to be recognized in this.  We are all

      13      human beings, and this is why this is important.

      14             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      15             REBECCA FUENTES:  Thank you.

      16             CRISPIN HERNANDEZ:  Gracias.

      17             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.  Gracias.

      18                (Mr. Hernandez and Ms. Fuentes leave the

      19        speaker table.)

      20             SENATOR MAY:  Are you Art?

      21             ART GLADSTONE:  I am.

      22             SENATOR MAY:  Okay, wonderful.

      23             And just before you start, let me just say,

      24      next, Brian O'Shaughnessy.

      25             Is Brian here?


       1             And -- oh, David Fisher.

       2             Angelina Cornell, if she's here.

       3             Go ahead, Art.

       4             ART GLADSTONE:  My name is Art Gladstone, and

       5      I'm a city kid.

       6             I grew up next to the Senate District of

       7      Senator Ramos, on 162nd Street, between the

       8      Long Island Expressway and Casino Park.

       9             I am, by federal definition, a seasonal

      10      farmworker.

      11             From 1997 to 2012, I was the farm labor

      12      specialist for Central New York of the New York

      13      Department of Labor, a position more commonly

      14      referred to as "the rural rep."

      15             My job was to facilitate labor relationships

      16      between farm operators seeking workers and workers

      17      seeking employment.

      18             I also provided technical assistance using

      19      the federal guest-worker program.

      20             Additionally, I worked to resolve labor and

      21      compliance issues with operators and workers alike.

      22             Many times, it was about listening to either

      23      party vent.

      24             I worked from a philosophy of trying to do

      25      the greatest good for the greatest number.  This did


       1      not mean pitting one side against the other.

       2             These days, what I hear from farm operators

       3      is added stress and anxiety from this proposed

       4      legislation.

       5             Now, this is on top of the everyday stresses

       6      and anxieties of farming that would leave most of us

       7      mere mortals either in a pile of mush or popping

       8      Xanax like they were Jujubes.

       9             The issues that I hear from farmworkers are

      10      exemplified by Blanca, who, due to issues about her

      11      status, was unable to be home with her son at a

      12      critical time for him.

      13             Even worse, was her not being home for the

      14      passing of her father.

      15             All I could do was be there and comfort her

      16      while I gave her a picture of her father and mother

      17      I had taken in their provincial town.  I was there

      18      as she cried her heart out, clutching that photo to

      19      her chest.

      20             I believe that the answers to the real

      21      farmworker issues are better solved at the federal

      22      level through comprehensive immigration reform and

      23      revamped guest-worker legislation.

      24             Terms and assurances already in guest-worker

      25      contracts take care of many of the issues this


       1      proposed law attempts to solve.

       2             I never hear workers talking about issues

       3      like those this legislation feels must be addressed.

       4             Now, I don't purport to speak for the

       5      farmworker population, but I know the people that

       6      I know.

       7             I think it would be audacious and

       8      presumptuous for any person or groups to say that

       9      they speak for such a diffuse and diverse group of

      10      people.

      11             One can find dissatisfied workers to say,

      12      indeed, this bill has the issues that need

      13      solutions.

      14             I feel it would be unconscionable to pass

      15      this partisan and agenda-driven legislation without

      16      truly hearing the issues I believe actually occupy

      17      the minds of most New York State farmworkers.

      18             My belief, based on 20-plus years working

      19      with the New York State agricultural community, is a

      20      fear that the trash will roll downhill, and those

      21      most negatively affected by this bill are going to

      22      be the workers.

      23             Automation is waiting around the corner to

      24      ease costs and cut down on labor.

      25             I fear workers' incomes are going to be


       1      reduced since hours will be, by necessity, cut back.

       2             The result?

       3             Smaller remittances on which so many families

       4      rely on for economic advancement, opening small

       5      businesses, obtaining education for their children,

       6      and, overall, improving their safety and living

       7      conditions.

       8             This has the potential to cause long-lasting

       9      negative consequences in areas and for people least

      10      able to contend with these changes.

      11             I also fear for the damage to be done to

      12      worker-farm-operator relationships that have been

      13      developed over many years.

      14             Both parties have benefited, and years of

      15      physical and emotional investment will be

      16      threatened.

      17             Workers will go where they can get the hours

      18      needed to finance their needs and dreams.

      19             New York State farm operators will be left

      20      with few alternatives that provide them the reliable

      21      workforce they have come to appreciate.

      22             Now, if Senator Ramos was here, I would say

      23      to her, because she would get this:  Senator Ramos,

      24      upstate is not Roosevelt Avenue.

      25             The one linchpin for many of these localities


       1      is the stability of the agricultural community.

       2             I strongly believe that the passage of this

       3      proposed legislation will not serve the economic

       4      interests of farmworkers, farm operators, or

       5      New York State in general.

       6             Thank you for hearing me out.

       7                [Applause.]

       8             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you, Art.

       9             I have a question.

      10             Are there provisions of this bill that you do

      11      see as workable?

      12             ART GLADSTONE:  Of the bill that are

      13      workable?

      14             You know, what I refer to, so many of the

      15      things that are being attempted to solve, I believe

      16      the answer really is going to come through

      17      guest-worker legislation, because that's truly going

      18      to represent who the farmworker population is going

      19      to be.

      20             So I think the State is chasing something

      21      that needs to be done at the federal level.

      22             SENATOR MAY:  I'm also going to ask the

      23      audience not to applaud after different speakers.

      24             The less disruption we have, the better.

      25             Thank you.


       1             ART GLADSTONE:  That was embarrassing.

       2             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

       3             BRIAN O'SHAUGNESSY:  Thank you, Senators, for

       4      holding these hearings.

       5             My name is Brian O'Shaughnessy, and for

       6      20 years I was executive director of the

       7      Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State.

       8             The coalition became involved in this issue

       9      when farmworkers asked for our help, and, because

      10      the New York laws that govern farmworkers are, to

      11      me, profoundly labor and religious issues.

      12             The labor questions at the heart of this bill

      13      will be addressed, I'm sure, by most speakers today.

      14             But what about the moral and religious side

      15      of this dimension?

      16             These can be seen by putting this hearing

      17      into historical context.

      18             In the 1930s, almost all workers in the U.S.

      19      benefited greatly from passage of federal

      20      legislation, especially the Fair Labor Standards

      21      Act; however, there were two groups of workers

      22      excluded from this law: domestic workers and

      23      farmworkers; basically, all people of color.

      24             What was said in Congressional debate back

      25      then is instructive because it led to the exclusions


       1      which New York has not changed, even though other

       2      states have.

       3             Two examples:

       4             To quote Representative Wilcox, "You cannot

       5      put the Negro and the White man on the same basis

       6      and get away with it."

       7             To quote Senator Smith, "Any man on this

       8      floor knows that the main object of this bill is, by

       9      human legislation, to overcome the great gift of God

      10      to the south."

      11             So in order for the vast majority of workers

      12      in the United States to gain labor benefits, a

      13      compromise, cemented in racism, meant two groups

      14      were legally excluded.

      15             Nine years ago New York ended the exclusion

      16      for domestic workers, but to this day they continue

      17      to oppress farmworkers.

      18             For a New Yorker all of my life, over

      19      70 years, I am greatly ashamed of this fact.

      20             I need to say, I have the greatest respect

      21      for many farmers, and I know that many of them treat

      22      farmworkers fairly.

      23             I have personally been involved in

      24      community-supported agriculture and I support

      25      farmers' markets.


       1             And for years I was in favor of the

       2      legislation -- legislative action that gives

       3      millions and millions of New York tax dollars to

       4      assist agriculture in this state.

       5             But let's look at the contrast.

       6             Over the past 80 years, what have New York

       7      legislators done to directly benefit farmworkers?

       8             In 1996, drinking water in the fields.

       9             In 1998, access to toilets and sanitation on

      10      some farms.

      11             And in '99, an end to a sub-minimum wage that

      12      farmworkers suffered under.

      13             Looking at this monumental disparity, how can

      14      you not, Senators, do all in your power to pass this

      15      bill this year?

      16             Let me point out that, 30 years ago, a task

      17      force of the then-governor recommended that

      18      farmworkers be granted the same rights as all

      19      workers; in other words, ending all exclusions.

      20             What happened to this recommendation?

      21             Nothing.

      22             And so with this, what I call "dismal

      23      history," and also with a strong pessimistic streak

      24      that inflicts my Irish soul, I hope you understand

      25      my doubt about the legislators of New York ending


       1      these exclusions this year.

       2             And, on the other hand, I am optimistic in

       3      the way that the famous Irish writer Seamus Heaney

       4      was, when, in chronicling the terrible violence of

       5      Irish decades, he wrote, "Once in a lifetime justice

       6      can rise up, and hope and history rhyme."

       7             Will justice rise up in 2019 for New York's

       8      farmworkers?

       9             Will hope and history rhyme in the Senate

      10      chamber this year?

      11             I believe it will, Senators, because of your

      12      moral leadership.

      13             Thank you.

      14             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      15             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      16             David.

      17             DAVID FISHER:  Questions?

      18             Good morning.

      19             Thank you for taking the time to put these

      20      hearings together and listen to farmworkers and

      21      farmers.

      22             I'm David Fisher.

      23             My family has a multi-generational dairy farm

      24      in Madrid, New York, where we employ over 55 people,

      25      and have great respect in who they are and what they


       1      do on the farm every day.

       2             I'm also here as president of the New York

       3      Farm Bureau, the largest general farm organization

       4      that represents every commodity, size, and type of

       5      farm in New York State.

       6             We need a strong farm community, the benefits

       7      are far-reaching.

       8             Farms are the leading driver of the economic

       9      economy in Upstate New York and Long Island, but it

      10      isn't just the economy that depends on our farms.

      11             It's also our customers, consumers, both far

      12      and near, and the markets in New York City and the

      13      food banks across the state.

      14             This is why the legislation, as presented,

      15      raises so many concerns for our farms.

      16             Farm Credit East analyzed the impacts of

      17      overtime at 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week.

      18             It found that labor costs will rise, on

      19      average, 17 percent, or, about $300 million.

      20             In addition, when you take into effect the

      21      rising minimum-wage costs, along with overtime, net

      22      farm income, on average, will drop 23 percent.

      23             Some of the more labor-intensive commodities

      24      will take an even bigger hit.

      25             Vegetable growers will see a net farm income


       1      decline by 43 percent;

       2             Greenhouse and nursery operations at

       3      58 percent;

       4             And fruit growers at 74 percent.

       5             And you've already heard about the dairy,

       6      101 percent drop.

       7             This isn't an assumption, but has been

       8      proven, as shown by the recent ag census that were

       9      released this month by USDA.

      10             New York lost 2100 farms in the past 5 years.

      11             What sets New York apart, is the minimum wage

      12      has consistently climbed to one of the highest in

      13      the nation, driving up all wages.

      14             Nearby Pennsylvania's minimum wage is still

      15      at the federal level of $7.25.

      16             I think when we all agree our employees

      17      deserve a fair and competitive wage, and that's why

      18      it's a rarity for farms to pay minimum wage.

      19             We must offer good wage and benefits, or else

      20      we won't have employees in this tight labor market.

      21      Our employees will go elsewhere if they aren't

      22      receiving the wages and hours that they're

      23      demanding.

      24             New York farms compete against farmers in

      25      other states and countries with much lower wage


       1      rates, as I said.

       2             Our farms can't just raise prices to absorb a

       3      large jump in overtime and expect to sell their

       4      goods.

       5             Our members have told us they'll consider

       6      growing other crops that require less labor;

       7             And others have said they'll cut hours or let

       8      employees go if they're forced to downsize;

       9             Yet others have said they'll just get out of

      10      the business that they love.

      11             My sons are having similar conversations

      12      about our business.

      13             They've both had the opportunity to work in

      14      multiple states before trying to return to our farm.

      15             And I was asked the question last week:  Is

      16      it time that we look elsewhere?

      17             It's a tough thing to face when they are,

      18      potentially, the eighth generation to farm in our

      19      community in Madrid.

      20             So who pays the price?  We all do.

      21             Our workers will lose hours, see smaller

      22      paychecks; fewer farms, will mean less money going

      23      to our local communities; and local food access will

      24      become even more difficult.

      25             We need to do what's right by our employees,


       1      and we do.

       2             This legislation won't fix the bad apples,

       3      but it will drive the good apple farms, the dairies,

       4      the nurseries, and the vegetable farms, and others,

       5      to make choices that will change the face of

       6      New York agriculture and rural New York State.

       7             Thank you.

       8             SENATOR MAY:  Yeah, I have a couple of

       9      questions.

      10             Just to press you on the economic issues,

      11      we've heard a lot of claims that workers would go

      12      elsewhere if they couldn't work the number --

      13      more -- beyond 40 hours a week.

      14             But if Pennsylvania pays so much lower wages,

      15      it seems like they wouldn't earn more, in total, if

      16      they moved there and worked more hours than they're

      17      working in New York.

      18             So I'm just trying to understand this

      19      argument.

      20             DAVID FISHER:  Pennsylvania doesn't have a

      21      many fruits and vegetables as we do.

      22             They'd probably go to Michigan or someplace

      23      like that.

      24             And it's really hard, because it's different.

      25             Dairy farms can schedule.


       1             You know, if you look at, let's take apple

       2      harvest, those people, some of them come from all

       3      over, but, say, from Jamaica.  They come here for

       4      eight weeks, and that's the window, that's their

       5      goal, is to work at least six, or seven days a week,

       6      for that time period, to have money to go home and

       7      take care of their family for the rest of the year.

       8             So, you know, you're trying to make -- it's

       9      really tough to -- agriculture is so diverse, it's

      10      really hard to put everything in the right

      11      perspective from a law standpoint.

      12             And that's why, agriculture is diverse.

      13      New York is the second most diverse agriculture,

      14      commodity-wise, in the nation, and the diversity

      15      within each of those is so huge.

      16             But we are so dependent in the northeast on

      17      weather conditions that, like, California doesn't

      18      have to worry about that.  It's dry every day.

      19             You know, we have to -- when the time comes,

      20      we have to work.

      21             On our farm right now, we are behind.  We

      22      haven't gotten any crop work done.

      23             So when the weather does break in the next

      24      week, you know, we're going to work six or seven

      25      days a week, and, you know, we work right with


       1      everybody to get those things done.

       2             So, it's really hard to legislate things

       3      that, like I said, you -- we have been no control

       4      over weather, and those people come here for a

       5      reason:  They come here to earn money, to take care

       6      of their family.

       7             And their family in other countries have a

       8      great standard of living because they can come here

       9      and do that.

      10             So as Art said, it really needs to be a

      11      federal fix, would help, but, it's very tough to

      12      legislate everything.

      13             SENATOR MAY:  Okay.

      14             And I also feel like we keep hearing

      15      different things about the minimum wage.

      16             The minimum wage is higher in New York, and

      17      so pushes labor costs.  But a lot of people are

      18      paying above minimum wage anyway.

      19             Do you have statistics about what percentage

      20      of farmworkers actually are paid minimum wage in

      21      New York?

      22             DAVID FISHER:  I don't have that in my

      23      pocket, but we will get that for you.

      24             SENATOR MAY:  Okay, great.  That would be --

      25             SENATOR METZGER:  For your farm, what are --


       1      what's the wages on your farm?

       2             DAVID FISHER:  We're starting entry level --

       3      well, we have a couple high school kids at minimum

       4      wage.  But, basically, we start at $12.50.

       5             So -- and we are a little bit different

       6      because we don't have -- we have all local help.

       7             SENATOR METZGER:  I was wondering if you

       8      could speak to -- dairy is year-round, so the labor

       9      requirements are different, you know, the hours are

      10      different.

      11             And if you could just discuss, you know, how

      12      you're different -- what the differences are, how

      13      you're differently impacted, by overtime

      14      requirements, and that kind of thing.

      15             DAVID FISHER:  It depends on how many hours

      16      they want the work.  But, on a lot of farms, where

      17      there are Latinos, they want hours because they're

      18      here to send money home.

      19             Our farm is a little bit different, that we

      20      don't have that.

      21             But it's schedulable, it's -- the barn things

      22      are.

      23             But the crop side is not, so we have H2A

      24      workers for the summer that help on our outside

      25      crew.


       1             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay.

       2             DAVID FISHER:  And we can't -- we can't -- we

       3      have to do it when the weather cooperates.  And if

       4      we get a couple rainy days, we all do shopwork, or

       5      whatever.  And when we get nice days, we just put in

       6      a lot of hours.

       7             And that's farming, and it's, just, a lot of

       8      people don't understand that.

       9             SENATOR MAY:  So you heard Crispin's very

      10      powerful testimony.

      11             Do you -- have you encountered this kind

      12      of -- or, heard about this kind of issue with

      13      intimidation and --

      14             DAVID FISHER:  I won't endorse bad actors,

      15      and I won't say they're not out there, but that's

      16      the Department of Labor's job, and that's the

      17      marketplace.

      18             And I will tell you, I think these things are

      19      going to take care of themselves because people want

      20      transparency in their food system.

      21             They want to know, environmentally, what

      22      we're doing.  They want to know how we're treating

      23      our employees.

      24             And so I think, if we don't do that, and we

      25      don't show that transparency, that people won't buy


       1      our products.

       2             So I think it's going to take care of itself

       3      when the consumers, they are demanding those things,

       4      and they're getting them.

       5             And there's programs in place to prove those

       6      things that we're doing on dairy farms and vegetable

       7      farms.

       8             So, I just don't not feel like it's something

       9      that needs to be legislated when the consumer

      10      preference is going to prove where those products

      11      came from and how they're grown.

      12             SENATOR MAY:  What mechanisms are there for

      13      transparency of that kind, to find out how

      14      farmworkers are being treated?

      15             DAVID FISHER:  The dairy industry is working

      16      on that right now.

      17             As far as, we have a FARM, F-A-R-M, program

      18      for dairy, which monitors how our animals are

      19      treated.  And there's more phases being implemented.

      20             And there's a lot of traceability things that

      21      more companies are requiring all the time.

      22             SENATOR MAY:  Okay.  Thank you.

      23                (Mr. O'Shaughnessy and Mr. Fisher leave the

      24        witness table.)



       1             ANGELA CORNELL:  Thank you very much.

       2             Thank you very much, Senators, for this

       3      opportunity.

       4             I'm sorry, I'm battling a cold and a sore

       5      throat, so I hope you can hear me okay.

       6             My name is Angela Cornell.

       7             I have been on the faculty of Cornell Law

       8      School since 2005.  My area is labor and employment.

       9             And I also direct the labor law clinic, and

      10      I am the chair of the faculty steering committee of

      11      the Cornell Farmworker Program.

      12             There has scarcely been a category of workers

      13      whose working conditions and reality more

      14      necessitated additional labor protections.

      15             The work is one of the most dangerous,

      16      according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.

      17             They're exposed to dangerous chemicals,

      18      machinery.

      19             They have low-pay, demanding working

      20      conditions.

      21             They're isolated on the farms; generally,

      22      they reside there.

      23             A considerable percentage of young, underage

      24      workers are employed in agriculture, and in New York

      25      that number is growing because of the exodus from


       1      Central America.  I'd say it's probably about

       2      30 percent of workers are underage on farms in New

       3      York.

       4             Their legal status makes them particularly

       5      vulnerable.  About 60 percent of undocumented --

       6      60 percent of workers are undocumented.

       7             Those who have H2A visas, even, you know,

       8      those who are documented, also have particular

       9      vulnerabilities.

      10             They are tied, as you may know, to their

      11      employer.  Their livelihood, and their legal status,

      12      is dependent on that employer.

      13             And I'll just mention that, we've heard that

      14      there have been some videotapes of farmworkers

      15      saying that they're opposed to this legislation.

      16             And I would just note that many of these

      17      workers do face the undue influence of their

      18      employers.  The power dynamic, like I said, not only

      19      is that the source of their income, but they reside

      20      there.  And if they're an H2 worker, they're totally

      21      dependent on their status and that individual.

      22             So, just something to be mindful of, of that

      23      situation.

      24             The supporters of this bill also strongly

      25      support farming in New York, especially family


       1      farms.

       2             I do not believe that extending basic labor

       3      rights to farmworkers is going to detrimentally

       4      impact the agricultural sector in New York.

       5             Farmers are, of course, concerned about

       6      profits.  I think that's a legitimate concern.

       7             But the overtime bill, unlike minimum wage,

       8      gives all of the control to employers; they have all

       9      of the control over whether to assign overtime.

      10             Do I think that means that their workers will

      11      only work 40 hours?

      12             No.  I think their workers will work less

      13      hours than they're working now, but they will

      14      receive higher pay.

      15             Farmers are also concerned about labor

      16      disruptions, but, particularly related to the right

      17      to organize and bargain collectively.

      18             Labor rights have been extended to a number

      19      of industries that involve, you know, concerns about

      20      crucial issues, like public health, and patient

      21      care, and police and fire.

      22             There have always been ways to provide those

      23      workers labor protections without risking the

      24      public's health and safety.

      25             I'll conclude, because I'm out of time,


       1      simply by saying that these are worker who sustain

       2      New York's multi-billion-dollar agricultural sector

       3      as the nation's second-largest producers of apples,

       4      the third-largest dairy producers.

       5             The farmworkers deserve more.

       6             You have the capacity, we have the capacity,

       7      to extend these basic minimum protections to these

       8      farmworkers.

       9             And these are fundamental rights, and we

      10      should not wait for the federal level to pass an

      11      immigration bill in order provide these basic labor

      12      protections for our farmworkers in New York.

      13             Thank you very much.

      14                [Applause.]

      15             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      16             So I have a couple of questions.

      17             One is, you say that 30 percent of the

      18      workforce -- farm-labor workforce is underage.

      19             I've been to many farms and have not seen

      20      evidence of that.

      21             So I just wanted to know where you got that

      22      data, and what it's based on?

      23             And, then, if you could answer how you think

      24      this bill would address that, if it does exist.

      25             ANGELA CORNELL:  Okay.


       1             I am -- I am the faculty -- on the faculty

       2      steering committee of the Cornell Farmworker

       3      Program, and we have a presence in upstate farms.

       4             We regularly go to farms.  We regularly do

       5      trainings on farms.

       6             If you'll look at my statement, you'll find

       7      more about the work we do on farms.

       8             And, at the law school, we also have a

       9      farmworker clinic.

      10             We know that there are many children working

      11      on farms that are under the age of majority.

      12             Why is that relevant?

      13             I'm simply pointing out that there are a

      14      number of reasons why these are vulnerable workers.

      15             These are precarious workers, and they need

      16      additional labor protections.

      17             Thank you so much.

      18             SENATOR METZGER:  I won't ask you too many

      19      more questions because you seem --

      20             ANGELA CORNELL:  Sorry.

      21             SENATOR MAY:  And we can communicate by some

      22      other way if you would prefer.

      23             I did also have a question about the -- what

      24      we've been hearing about scarcity of labor on farms,

      25      and whether that's something that you have noticed


       1      as well?

       2             ANGELA CORNELL:  I understand the concern

       3      about the scarcity of workers.

       4             I actually think that "higher pay and the

       5      overtime" language will translate into slightly

       6      higher pay for these workers.

       7             It could actually end up bringing more

       8      workers to New York.

       9             But I do understand that farmers here have

      10      had a difficult time finding workers, I understand

      11      that.

      12             I don't think this bill will negatively

      13      affect.  In fact, I think it could end up being

      14      helpful.

      15             SENATOR MAY:  Okay.  Thank you.

      16             Hope you feel better.

      17             LUCIO RENE VILLANUEVA:  Good morning.

      18             My name is Lucio Villanueva.  I have traveled

      19      from Mexico to work for Hemdale Farms and

      20      Greenhouses for eight years.

      21             Hemdale is a 3,000-acre farm, with crops,

      22      including vegetables, as well as greenhouses to

      23      start vegetable plants.

      24             I have a beautiful wife and a one-year-old

      25      daughter at home, and another baby on the way.


       1             So coming to Hemdale Farms allows me to make

       2      a good living for my family.

       3             Hansen Farm and Hemdale Farms runs a separate

       4      business, but work together for stay on the top of

       5      our work and market their vegetables.

       6             My supervisor, Angelo, is going to talk on

       7      behalf of myself and another employees of the both

       8      farms.

       9             ANGELO OCAMPO:  I have to read too because

      10      I don't remember everything.

      11             My name is Angelo Ocampo.

      12             I supervisor for H2A workers for Hansen Farm

      13      and Hemdale Farms and Greenhouses.

      14             I have worked for full-time for Hansen Farm

      15      for over 20 years.

      16             Hansen Farm is the fourth-generations family

      17      farm, celebrate our's 100 years in business.

      18             This year Hansen Farm won the national

      19      YS (sic) Primary Shipper and the high-quality

      20      vegetables, particularly cabbage.

      21             The H2A employees are here for seven or

      22      eight months.  They get paid 13.25 per hour.  We

      23      free all, including houses, transportations, and

      24      reimbursement for the travel.

      25             This is their job, and they want to work as


       1      many hours as possible for the seven, eight months.

       2             Most of the works, including planting,

       3      hoeing, and harvestings has to be done in good

       4      weather.

       5             When the conditions are good, we work the

       6      10 or 12 hours a day, and time, 7 or more days in

       7      the row, and 60 or more hours a week, to keeping the

       8      crops in the schedule.

       9             When it is raining and the soil is wet, like

      10      this week, we have to wait for the soil or the crop

      11      to dry.

      12             During planting season, we have for

      13      (indiscernible) have had to wait many days, or

      14      weeks, for all condition that we grow the crops.

      15             Last year, the large sauerkraut company in

      16      the world in closing their New York State plants in

      17      Ontario County, moving to the cabbage harvest to

      18      Wisconsin, and ours vegetables harvest was down.

      19             (Indiscernible) for 2019, Hansen and Hemdale

      20      was negotiating, and got more contracts with another

      21      national vegetables company because, these two

      22      farms, they had to be new house -- they had build

      23      new houses and new packing house that is now built.

      24             That's it.



       1             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you very much.

       2             ANGELO OCAMPO:  You're welcome.

       3             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

       4             Can I ask, how long have you been on that --

       5      working on that farm?

       6             ANGELO OCAMPO:  I have 20 years -- over

       7      20 years.

       8             SENATOR METZGER:  20 years.

       9             And is it all -- are the all the workers from

      10      the H2A program, or --

      11             ANGELO OCAMPO:  Yeah, yeah, the H2A, they

      12      coming from Mexico.

      13             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay.

      14             ANGELO OCAMPO:  Yeah.  The H2A guys, yeah.

      15             SENATOR MAY:  And when you're working

      16      12 hours in a day, do you get breaks?

      17             ANGELO OCAMPO:  Yeah, we have two breaks --

      18      no, three breaks.

      19             It's 9:30, 3:00, and 6:00; three breaks.

      20             SENATOR MAY:  And you say sometimes you work

      21      seven days a week.

      22             Do you have the option to take a day of rest,

      23      or do you have to work?

      24             ANGELO OCAMPO:  The problem is, all depend on

      25      the weather, because, right now, we see it for


       1      two weeks.  You know, if we want to catch, you know,

       2      the scale for the plants to stay in the ground.  You

       3      know, we no planting in the time, maybe it's too

       4      late to do the harvesting.

       5             SENATOR MAY:  So there is no choice?

       6             The workers cannot choose to take what day of

       7      rest during the week?

       8             ANGELO OCAMPO:  Well, yeah, it depend on the

       9      guys.

      10             If they want to taking the day off, they

      11      taking, you know.

      12             SENATOR MAY:  They can?

      13             ANGELO OCAMPO:  Yeah.

      14             SENATOR MAY:  Okay.

      15             ANGELO OCAMPO:  Because there's 35 guys,

      16      sometimes the 35 guys, the 5 guys didn't work, or

      17      10 guys didn't work, that day, they can switch, you

      18      know, yes, for they to have breaks too.

      19             Uh-huh.

      20             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      21             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.  Gracias.

      22             LUCIO RENE VILLANUEVA:  Thank you.

      23             ANGELO OCAMPO:  Thank you for the time.

      24                [Applause.]



       1                (Mr. Villanueva and Mr. Ocampo leave the

       2        witness table.)

       3             MATTHEW CRITZ:  I think there were somebody

       4      before me, but --

       5             SENATOR MAY:  Abdul-Qadir?

       6             No?  Okay.

       7             Okay, Matthew Critz.

       8             And on deck we have, John Clark, and

       9      Lon Stephens.  If you can come up, that would be

      10      great.

      11             And Judi Whittaker.

      12             But, go ahead.

      13             MATTHEW CRITZ:  Okay.  I'm Matthew Critz.

      14             My wife and I are the owners of Critz Farms

      15      in Cazenovia.  We're first-generation farmers.

      16      We've been there since 1985.  We now own 350 acres,

      17      and grow a very wide, diverse crops.

      18             Our main crops are apples, pumpkins,

      19      blueberries, and Christmas trees, where we do a

      20      bunch of other stuff.

      21             We're kind of in a unique position, where

      22      80 percent of our crops are marketed retail.  And we

      23      have a separate workforce that does that, that gets

      24      overtime if they work, and all that, workmen's (sic)

      25      comp, disability... the whole shooting match.


       1             We also have six H2A workers that do the

       2      field work.  Those H2A workers also get

       3      workmen's (sic) compensation, disability insurance,

       4      days off if they want them.  We pay unemployment

       5      insurance on them.

       6             We have full -- pardon?

       7             SENATOR METZGER:  They are not actually

       8      allowed to collect on the unemployment.

       9             MATTHEW CRITZ:  Yes, yes, we have to pay, but

      10      they can't collect.

      11             Kind of a weird situation, isn't it?

      12             Yeah, it's very strange, that we have to pay,

      13      but they can't.  I would be fine if they could

      14      collect.

      15             We're -- these workers, besides the pay they

      16      get, they also receive free housing, free utilities,

      17      free phone, free Internet, free television, free

      18      transportation back and forth to work, free

      19      transportation to the supermarket every weekend,

      20      free transportation from their home country to where

      21      they work for us.

      22             They also make $13.25 an hour, which is the

      23      base H2A rate in the northeast.

      24             And the answer to your question a little bit

      25      earlier:  In Pennsylvania, if you have H2A workers,


       1      you have to pay $13.25.

       2             So my concern -- your question about workers

       3      leaving to go to different states?

       4             In Pennsylvania, if you're H2A worker, and

       5      you don't like working in New York because you can't

       6      get over 40 hours, you're going to move to another

       7      state.  Even Pennsylvania you're going on get paid

       8      $13.25, not the minimum wage in that town -- in that

       9      city -- or in that -- excuse me -- in that state.

      10             And so my wife and I feel very opposed to

      11      this.

      12             We feel for, two reasons, especially on the

      13      overtime rate, and, you've heard the same story all

      14      along, it's all about the weather.

      15             And for us, with 20 percent of our stuff

      16      going wholesale, we compete against Pennsylvania,

      17      Ohio, Vermont, New Hampshire, and especially Canada,

      18      no overtime rules there.

      19             We ship almost a million pounds of pumpkins

      20      all over the northeast every fall, thousands of

      21      Christmas trees, and we're competing with these

      22      people every day, and we can't absorb this extra

      23      cost.

      24             It's -- I can't pay $20 an hour to pick

      25      pumpkins and compete against the Canadians that ship


       1      them down from Nova Scotia into my Boston market.

       2             We've already lost market share to them

       3      already.

       4             One minute left?

       5             Okay.

       6             The other point I'd like to bring up is, the

       7      workers, this is going to adversely affect the

       8      workers.  Because we can't afford to pay that rate,

       9      they're going to get knocked back to 40 hours.

      10             They're H2A guys, they come here for one

      11      reason, and that's to work, so, they want to work

      12      50, 60 hours a week.

      13             So -- and as far as recommendations, I could

      14      live with 60 hours.  I could live with one day off a

      15      week.

      16             And we're already doing the other things

      17      already with the workmen's (sic) comp and that whole

      18      thing.

      19             Do you guys have any questions?

      20             SENATOR METZGER:  Yeah.

      21             About what percentage of your costs are labor

      22      costs?

      23             MATTHEW CRITZ:  Oh, God.

      24             Because we're in the vegetable business, it's

      25      a lot.  30, 40 percent, at least.


       1             SENATOR METZGER:  Right.  And it's great --

       2      it's good to get a sense of how it differs across

       3      different crops -- different kinds of crops,

       4      different kinds of agricultural products, so...

       5             MATTHEW CRITZ:  Yeah, the labor is very

       6      expensive.

       7             And it will put a pretty large burden on us,

       8      trying to compete with these people from -- that

       9      aren't in from New York.

      10             Also, if I can have one second, I'd also like

      11      to touch on all the other businesses that are

      12      affected by our business.

      13             We buy the cardboard to put the pumpkins in

      14      from a firm in New York State.  That'll go down.

      15             We use a local trucking firm, and that's,

      16      truckloads, drivers that won't have loads to drive.

      17             We buy new tractors from a local dealer.

      18             It's just -- it's going to precipitate all

      19      the way down if we have to drop this business

      20      because we can't afford to be in it anymore.

      21             SENATOR MAY:  I'm also wondering about the

      22      transparency issues that we talked about.

      23             How often is the housing inspected, or that

      24      kind of thing?

      25             MATTHEW CRITZ:  Yes, okay, for us we get our


       1      housing inspected twice a year by the local health

       2      department.

       3             We also get at least one visit from

       4      New York State Department of Labor every summer.

       5             And we get a visit from the federal

       6      Department of Labor every summer.

       7             The Jamaican government provides a liaison

       8      person for the Jamaican workers.

       9             So -- and we've been doing this 10 years now,

      10      and we've never had a case where we've had an

      11      unhappy employee.

      12             But if we had an employee that was unhappy,

      13      he would talk to the Jamaican liaison officer; he

      14      would then talk to me.

      15             If things weren't working out, he didn't like

      16      to work at my farm, they could help arrange moving

      17      him to another farm, and maybe a worker from another

      18      farm coming to me.

      19             Technically, they're here to work for my

      20      farm.  But, if there's unhappy employees, there's

      21      ways around it.

      22             So they're not, like, totally beholding to

      23      me.

      24             And if they don't want come back, they don't

      25      come back.


       1             And we have guys that have been coming back

       2      for 10 years now.

       3             SENATOR MAY:  That's what I was going to ask,

       4      how long your --

       5             MATTHEW CRITZ:  Pretty much, everybody that

       6      we have now has worked for us before, and come back,

       7      the six migrant workers that we have.

       8             So if they didn't like working for you, and

       9      you didn't give them good housing, or didn't take

      10      care of their hours, or if, on a rainy day, you

      11      didn't make work for them so they could get their

      12      hours in for a week when it rained all week, they

      13      wouldn't come back to you.

      14             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay.

      15             Thank you very much.

      16             SENATOR MAY:  John.

      17             JOHN CLARK:  Good afternoon, Senator May,

      18      Senator Metzger, and the members of the Senate Labor

      19      and Agricultural committees.

      20             My name is John Clark, and I'm president of

      21      the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance, a

      22      300-member trade association of agribusiness

      23      companies that serve --

      24             SENATOR MAY:  Can I interrupt you for a

      25      second so that I can welcome my colleague


       1      Senator Velmanette Montgomery, who drove 5 1/2 hours

       2      to get here, and we are very, very pleased to have

       3      her here.

       4             Thank you.

       5                [Applause.]

       6             JOHN CLARK:  Thank you for introducing her.

       7             Welcome.

       8             As I was saying, the Northeast Agribusiness

       9      and Feed Alliance is a 300-member trade association

      10      of agribusiness companies that serve production

      11      agriculture throughout the northeast U.S.

      12             Our members comprise of feed, seed,

      13      fertilizer, ingredient suppliers, credit providers,

      14      and others, whose business it is to support the

      15      farming community.

      16             Locally here, in Oneida, Herkimer, and

      17      Madison counties, some of the members that would --

      18      could be affected would be Bailey's Feed in

      19      Bloomville, Brown's Feed in Frankfort,

      20      Louis J. Gale & Son in Waterville, Gold Star Feed

      21      and Grain of Sangerfield, and Lutz Feed Company in

      22      Oneonta, who each employ 20 to 50 people that

      23      support the farming community.

      24             Therefore, the Northeast Agribusiness and

      25      Feed Alliance is here today to stand with the


       1      farming community in strong opposition to

       2      Senate Bill 2837, and implore you to find a path

       3      forward that effectively addresses the economic

       4      realities of New York's farming sector.

       5             No state policy that attempts to address the

       6      issues identified in Senate Bill 2837 will be

       7      successful unless the policy effectively respects

       8      and addresses the economic impacts to New York

       9      farmers.

      10             Absent a win-win solution, Senate Bill 2837

      11      will alter the face of agriculture, and dare I say,

      12      the fabric and the face of rural Upstate New York

      13      forever.

      14             To paraphrase the rest of my testimony:

      15             For the past four to five years, dairy

      16      farmers, who are price-takers, have suffered with

      17      low commodity prices.

      18             To put this burden on them would hurt their

      19      businesses and make them less competitive.

      20             As was stated, New York is now number three

      21      in dairy.

      22             If this bill goes through, it could make them

      23      less competitive and force milk to be produced in

      24      other states where it will be more competitive.

      25             My point here today is that, we stand in --


       1      shoulder-to-shoulder with the dairy producers.

       2             And it will have a rippling effect, just as

       3      Mr. Critz talked about his suppliers, the feed

       4      industry will be adversely affected.

       5             I respectfully submit these comments.

       6             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

       7             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

       8             SENATOR METZGER:  I don't have any questions.

       9             Did you have any questions?

      10             SENATOR MAY:  I don't think I have any

      11      questions.

      12             And we're going to have to limit our

      13      questions a little bit if we're going to get through

      14      everyone on our list.

      15             So, thank you for your testimony, Mr. Clark.

      16             JOHN CLARK:  You're welcome.

      17             LON STEPHENS:  Good afternoon,

      18      Senators Ramos (sic), Metzger, and Montgomery, and

      19      distinguished members of the Senate Labor and

      20      Agricultural committees.

      21             My name is Lon Stephens.

      22             I am the current general manager of

      23      Cooperative Feed Dealers in Conklin, New York.

      24      I have held this position for the past 29 years.

      25             35 independent and family-owned feed mills


       1      own this 85-year-old cooperative.

       2             CFD's activities include providing bulk

       3      grain, mineral and vitamin premixes, and animal

       4      nutrition advice to member mills.

       5             Our New York feed mill membership count

       6      totals 18.

       7             The average employment represented by each is

       8      approximately 20, not including CFD's 45 employees,

       9      for a total of about 400 employed in New York State.

      10             Each one of these members, and CFD itself,

      11      relies on the dairy industry for their income,

      12      so each has a vital interest in the success of

      13      New York State dairy farms.

      14             As the previous speakers have told you, milk

      15      prices have been depressed over the past three to

      16      five years, devastating the bottom lines of many

      17      otherwise successful dairy farms, and driven many

      18      out of business.

      19             Increasing expenses on the remaining farms

      20      will only hasten their exodus, and the negative

      21      impact it will have on the economies of upstate

      22      towns and counties already struggling to keep their

      23      job and tax revenue intact.

      24             I'm here to testify that not only dairy

      25      farms, but vegetable and crop farms, which are so


       1      vital to the upstate economy, will be challenged.

       2             But the 400 jobs represented by CFD and its

       3      members will be impacted as well.

       4             The increase in accounts receivables from

       5      dairy farmers held by my members threaten their very

       6      survival.  And I predict that some feed mills will

       7      not survive.

       8             Many of my members have been in business for

       9      over 100 years.

      10             The current economic threat from dairy --

      11      affecting dairy farms, unable to pay their feed

      12      bills, is much more severe than at any other time

      13      during my 34-year tenure at Cooperative Feed

      14      Dealers.

      15             This threat to feed mills is real, and the

      16      ripple effect to the economies of the towns and

      17      villages that benefit from the jobs and tax revenues

      18      they supply would be significant.

      19             I urge to you consider the impact that

      20      raising labor expenses will have on this important

      21      New York State industry.

      22             Dairy farmers will have no one to pass this

      23      expense along to, other than their vendors, my

      24      members, and I can attest that my members cannot

      25      extend any more credit than what they already have.


       1             Your decision to not allow this legislation

       2      to be enacted is the decision to help New York State

       3      agriculture as it struggles through this darkest

       4      period in its history.

       5             Dairy farmers, and farming, has been a

       6      bedrock of New York landscape and economy for the

       7      past two centuries.

       8             Please give it a chance to continue.

       9             Thank you for your consideration.

      10             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      11             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      12             I don't believe we got your written

      13      testimony, so if you can submit --

      14             SENATOR METZGER:  We do.

      15             SENATOR MAY:  -- oh, do we have it?

      16             Oh, okay.

      17             I beg your pardon.

      18             LON STEPHENS:  Do you have mine?

      19             SENATOR MAY:  Yeah, I guess we do.

      20                (Mr. Clark and Mr. Stephens leave the

      21        witness table.)

      22             SENATOR MAY:  Are you Judi Whittaker?

      23             JUDI WHITTAKER:  Yes, uh-huh.

      24             SENATOR MAY:  So Karin Reeves is next, if you

      25      could come up, and Alfredo Mejia.


       1             I guess I need to be louder here.

       2             You can go ahead.

       3             JUDI WHITTAKER:  Good day, Senator May,

       4      Senator Metzger, and Senator Montgomery.

       5             Thank you all for the time.  We appreciate

       6      you listening to our concerns.

       7             My name is Judi Whittaker.

       8             Along with my husband, I, and my son, we have

       9      a dairy farm in Broome County.  Our farm has been in

      10      business for 104 years.

      11             My husband and myself were hoping to pass

      12      this farm on to our grandsons.

      13             I'm not so certain now.

      14             We milk cows three times a day, every day,

      15      365 days a year.

      16             We have employees we value very much.

      17      They're just like family to us.  We include them in

      18      on picnics, special occasions, and celebrations.

      19             If enacted, this Farmworker (sic) Fair Labor

      20      Practices Act would have dire consequences on our

      21      farms, and I really worry that those employees we

      22      value so much would not stay and we would not have

      23      them any longer.

      24             We pay our workers well.

      25             We provide housing for our employees.  This


       1      includes a house, electric, cable TV, Internet

       2      service, heat, air conditioning, a day off.  We pay

       3      workers' compensation on them.  We pay disability on

       4      them.

       5             It's a lot of expense for us.

       6             Looking at the expense that that would cost

       7      us, and what our potential of what we could do to

       8      change anything, would be to start charging our

       9      employees for the housing costs; for the electric,

      10      for the cable TV, for the Internet services.

      11             We haven't -- if we have to pay additional

      12      overtime pay on our farm, would take our payroll,

      13      which is a little bit more than $500,000 now, to

      14      closer to $700,000.

      15             When all the taxes and all of the fees are

      16      included, it's more of a losing proposition for us.

      17             We're a dairy farm, we are price-takers, not

      18      price-setters.

      19             We send our milk to DFA, it's processed and

      20      bottled.  30 days later, we get paid for that milk,

      21      not knowing at the time we sent it what we're going

      22      to get paid.

      23             We have no idea, we have no control over

      24      that.

      25             We can't pass it on to anyone, the costs of


       1      those.

       2             With dairying being in a downturn five years

       3      now, we're losing money every day.

       4             This additional burden would possibly put us

       5      out of business.

       6             We can't pay for more from a losing business.

       7             How sad is it that the people that are

       8      providing food for you are now qualifying for food

       9      stamps.

      10             We have bills to pay, and our employees are

      11      one of our biggest and our most important.  We pay

      12      them before we pay ourselves.

      13             We haven't paid ourselves in over a year.

      14             Our employees want as many hours as they can

      15      get.  They have families to take care of.

      16             I fear, if we can't give them the hours that

      17      they're looking for, they will leave and we will

      18      have no employees.

      19             Instead of living free, we would need to have

      20      them pay for those expenses.

      21             It would end up, in the end, not a winning

      22      situation for them.

      23             Thank you for taking time to listen to my

      24      concerns.

      25             Our future in the dairy industry is at stake


       1      right now.

       2             And I'll just say a little quote from one of

       3      my good friends.

       4             Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said, "Any plan

       5      put forward needs to be balanced."

       6             And we just ask for someone to listen.

       7             Thank you.

       8             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you so much.

       9      Appreciate your testimony.

      10             SENATOR MAY:  And, Karin, ready?

      11             KARIN REEVES:  Good morning.

      12             SENATOR MAY:  Hi.

      13             KARIN REEVES:  Thank you, Senators, for

      14      holding these hearings.

      15             My name is Karin Reeves, and I'm one of the

      16      owners of Reeves Farms in Baldwinsville.

      17             We grow around 350 acres of vegetables and

      18      berries, and we hire about 70 seasonal workers each

      19      year, with the majority of them coming through the

      20      H2A program.

      21             And, my primary concerns with the farm labor

      22      bill are related to overtime and potential for work

      23      stoppages, as you've heard from other farmers today.

      24             Many other pieces of the bill, we're already

      25      doing today, so we don't really have concerns about


       1      those pieces.

       2             But we simply can't afford to pay overtime

       3      when we have our workers working anywhere from 50 to

       4      70 hours per week.

       5             As you've heard, you know, we don't set our

       6      prices.  We have to compete in a global marketplace.

       7             And even today I'm constantly having

       8      conversations about why we can't meet the prices

       9      from other states and countries.

      10             So forcing farms in New York to pay overtime

      11      puts us on an uneven playing field.

      12             And the bill also has a provision, where

      13      farms would have to pay a daily overtime, and that

      14      piece of the bill really puts an unfair burden on

      15      agriculture since, virtually, no other industry in

      16      New York has that requirement.

      17             Overtime pay was originally introduced to

      18      encourage businesses to hire more people rather than

      19      give the same workers more hours.

      20             But, simply hiring more people in agriculture

      21      comes with a lot of additional requirements, since

      22      we have to provide housing and pay for travel costs.

      23             But, while these costs are significant,

      24      they're not even our biggest concern.

      25             Our biggest concern, really, is our employees


       1      will not be satisfied with 40 hours per week.

       2             And, you know, they're leaving their family

       3      behind and their life behind.  They come here,

       4      really, to do one thing, and -- which is make as

       5      much money as possible.

       6             And, if we have to limit them to 40 hours a

       7      week, they're -- they've told us that they're going

       8      to look for work outside our state.

       9             So this bill really puts us in a catch-22.

      10             If we continue to let our employees work that

      11      50 to 70 hours a week, we won't be able to operate a

      12      competitive business.  But, if we limit them to

      13      40 hours, we risk that they may not return to our

      14      farm.

      15             Just a brief word about work stoppages.

      16             A strike during our growing season would,

      17      essentially, hold us hostage, and would really be

      18      devastating for our farm.

      19             So, for that reason, we believe that there

      20      needs to be some no-strike clause, or something

      21      addressing that, in the legislation.

      22             And we have several of our employees here

      23      today, and I would like to let Sam speak on behalf

      24      of our workers.

      25                (Samuel Montelongo speaking in Spanish, and


       1        Ari Mir-Pontier translating to English.)

       2             SAMUEL MONTELONGO:  Good day.

       3             Our boss has told us that they want to pass a

       4      new law that will only allow us to work 40 hours a

       5      week.

       6             That will prejudice us because we are working

       7      now 70 hours a week.

       8             That would only give us about 10 hours in

       9      overtime, not the other additional 20.

      10             The boss has told them, that if they pass

      11      this law, that they will bring in 30 more job --

      12      workers.

      13             That will affect us because that's too many

      14      people in the camp, or they'll have to add to the

      15      camp.

      16             Because we've been working 60 to 70 hours,

      17      that money helps us maintain our families in Mexico.

      18             We only come here six to seven months, and

      19      the rest of the time we work over there.

      20             Our boss also told us that we could have a

      21      day off without any fear of anything happening to

      22      us.

      23             We feel that if you do not pass this law, it

      24      would be beneficial to us.

      25             But this will be the Senators' decision.


       1             I only come here to request that.

       2             SENATOR METZGER:  Muchos gracias.

       3             SAMUEL MONTELONGO:  De nada.  You're welcome.

       4             SENATOR MAY:  I have a couple questions.

       5             If you have a complaint about the conditions,

       6      is there a system for bringing that complaint to

       7      your employers?

       8             SAMUEL MONTELONGO:  There are no complaints.

       9                [Laughter.]

      10             KARIN REEVES:  We have one manager on the

      11      farm that's responsible for overseeing all the

      12      housing, and also making sure, you know, everyone

      13      knows where they need to be that day.

      14             So any complaints, you tell Andres.  Right?

      15             SAMUEL MONTELONGO:  (Nods head.)

      16             If he did have one, he would speak with the

      17      boss.

      18             SENATOR MAY:  And the workers understand that

      19      this bill doesn't require that you work only

      20      40 hours a week; it requires that the employer pay

      21      additional overtime pay for more than 40 hours a

      22      week?

      23             SAMUEL MONTELONGO:  He understands this, but

      24      they will still bring in 30 more people to divide up

      25      the jobs, and that will limit their hours to 40.


       1             KARIN REEVES:  I mean, you see that in a lot

       2      of other industries.

       3             You know, I mean, the majority of businesses

       4      don't allow their employees to work significant

       5      overtime.  They hire more people.

       6             And that's the approach we're going to have

       7      to take in order to try keep our costs down so we

       8      can be competitive.

       9             SENATOR METZGER:  How many years have you

      10      been working on this farm?

      11             SAMUEL MONTELONGO:  (Speaking in English.)

      12             13 or 14.  I can't remember.

      13             SENATOR MAY:  And I just have one question

      14      for you, Karin.

      15             The -- you said that most of your employees

      16      were here on H2A visas.

      17             Are there -- are there different categories

      18      of workers, and do they earn different amounts, and

      19      how does that work?

      20             KARIN REEVES:  That's a good question.

      21             The -- our -- like I said, the majority of

      22      the workers come through the H2A visa program.

      23             We also have delivery trucks that go out

      24      every day, and so we hire about 10 to 12 seasonal

      25      delivery drivers, and they're mostly people, like,


       1      bus drivers and, you know, people that are off for

       2      the summers.

       3             And then we have a small fruit stand, so we

       4      hire some other seasonal high school students to

       5      work that.

       6             So there's different job classifications.

       7             But all the -- all the field work and all the

       8      packing is done by the H2A workers.

       9             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      10             KARIN REEVES:  Thank you.

      11                (Ms. Reeves and Mr. Montelongo leave the

      12        witness table.)

      13             ALFREDO MEJIA:  My name is Alfredo Mejia.

      14             I have been working on a farm for 22 years in

      15      Batavia, New York.  This a vegetable farm.

      16             We planting potatoes, beets, peas, carrots,

      17      and sweet corn, and cabbage, snap bean, and field

      18      corn.

      19             We have a very short season to plant and our

      20      harvest on the crop.

      21             We cannot control the weather.  On a good

      22      weather day we have to do as much as possible.

      23             Regarding the harvesting as not the same

      24      because, if you will harvest on at the same time,

      25      our crop will be spoiled, and we are risking a lost


       1      crop in yields and dollars for all of the hard work.

       2             I am a single father of the two boys.

       3             One after graduation from St. John Fisher

       4      College last year, and I was able to pay his tuition

       5      for four years.

       6             And now I have a son who is about to

       7      graduation from high school, and he's will be

       8      intending to college as well.

       9             My first work was in a factory in Wilmington,

      10      Delaware.  They pay overtime; however, we never

      11      allowed to work more than 40 hours to receive this

      12      benefit.

      13             In that time I was single, and I paid my rent

      14      and my transportation, and I have very little left

      15      to make my (indiscernible).

      16             I was told by a friend, I was -- if I was to

      17      work more hours, I can get farmer job.

      18             I chose this because I want to work, and here

      19      my -- and work as much as possible to meet my needs,

      20      and as well to be able to help my parents.

      21             My message is, if this bill gets signed,

      22      I will have to find a second job on the night, on

      23      the weekends, because the farmers-owners cannot

      24      afford to pay for 20 or 30 extra hours per week in

      25      time-and-a-half pay, and I cannot meet my needs


       1      working only 40 hours.

       2             Unless a farmer can raise his prices for

       3      their crop, and (indiscernible) allowed to force the

       4      farmers to pay overtime for more than 8 hours of

       5      work in the day, or 40 hours in the week, we hear of

       6      many farms and many more peoples because they want

       7      to be able to get the work done on time and pay the

       8      bills.

       9             Thank you for listening to me, and I pray

      10      that you guys make the right decision.

      11             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      12             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      13             SENATOR METZGER:  Do you work -- are you full

      14      year?  Or --

      15             ALFREDO MEJIA:  Yes.  Full year.

      16             SENATOR MAY:  I hope your son gets to go to

      17      the college of his choice.

      18             ALFREDO MEJIA:  Thank you.

      19             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      20             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      21             SENATOR MAY:  We have Stuart Mitchell.

      22             STUART MITCHELL:  I'm Stuart Mitchell, the

      23      president and CEO at Pathstone Corporation.

      24             You've been greeted well, I won't go through

      25      that again.


       1             I do believe, and I think it's been proven

       2      time and again today, that everyone who is

       3      testifying today is absolutely committed to

       4      protecting and advancing our New York State

       5      critically-important agriculture industry.

       6             I think farmworkers and employers certainly

       7      embrace that.

       8             I grew up on a small dairy farm in Middlesex,

       9      New York.  Went to Cornell.  And got involved in

      10      farmworkers -- working with farmworkers, on behalf

      11      of farmworkers, in 1967.

      12             In late 1968 I became a part of an

      13      organization, or a group of people, that formed what

      14      is now known as Pathstone Corporation.

      15             I've been working with farmworkers and

      16      employers for almost 50 years.

      17             Since 1969 we have assisted thousands of

      18      farmworkers develop the skills and resources

      19      required to obtain year-round, full-time,

      20      unsubsidized employment with benefits and with labor

      21      protections.

      22             In addition, we have assisted hundreds of

      23      farmworkers obtain year-round full-time employment

      24      within the industry -- within the agricultural

      25      industry.


       1             Progressive agricultural employers recognize

       2      that and value the importance of their workforce.

       3             The Fair Labor Standards Practices Act will

       4      create a level and equitable labor practices

       5      foundation for the industry and promote employee

       6      satisfaction and retention.

       7             In the '70s and '80s I participated as a

       8      member of the New York State Department of Labor

       9      Minimum Wage Advisory Committee.

      10             The committee was established by the

      11      Legislature to make recommendations to the

      12      commissioner and the governor regarding labor

      13      standards for farmworkers.

      14             It took decades for this group to negotiate

      15      and achieve legislation that required farmworkers

      16      receive the same basic minimum wage paid other

      17      workers.

      18             During that long and arduous public and

      19      private debate, the other labor protections being

      20      proposed by the Farmworker (sic) Fair Labor

      21      Practices Act were never seriously considered by the

      22      New York State Department of Labor, the governor, or

      23      the state Legislature.

      24             Now is the time to finally eliminate, once

      25      and for all, second-class, sharecropper-inspired


       1      worker -- workplace conditions for farmworkers.

       2             The advisory-council model for reaching

       3      agreement in fairness for farmworkers simply did not

       4      work.

       5             I've had countless conversations with

       6      employers who express the same fears that many

       7      employers are expressing today.

       8             My 50 years of experience advocating for the

       9      rights of workers has convinced me that the

      10      industry's extremely and extraordinarily resilient.

      11             The incremental increases in workplace

      12      protections for farmworkers over the last several

      13      decades have in no way damaged the vitality of the

      14      industry.

      15             In fact, if anything the industry is stronger

      16      than ever.

      17             The industry has always been able to manage

      18      increased operating costs in energy, taxes,

      19      equipment, and technology, and as earlier noted, the

      20      New York State Legislature and governor has

      21      regularly provided economic incentives and subsidies

      22      to the industry.

      23             With a level playing field for the

      24      agricultural workforce, the industry will

      25      demonstrate, once again, its resilience and ability


       1      to adapt to new economic realities.

       2             I guess, for example, that increasing

       3      overtime will be less expensive than creating

       4      housing for new workers coming into the farm.

       5             Working together, we can ensure that every

       6      hungry person living and eating in New York will

       7      have equal access to high-quality, affordable,

       8      health-giving -- healthy life-giving food.

       9             Each of us passionately believes that we must

      10      all have an inalienable right to enough food every

      11      day to enjoy and appreciate a productive and full --

      12      fulfilling life.

      13             Enacting this legislation will create an

      14      incredible marketing opportunity to convince

      15      consumers that they should demonstrate their

      16      appreciation for the workers and owners who make it

      17      possible for us to eat healthy food every day.

      18             I urge you to support this legislation.

      19             Remembering the words of

      20      Dr. Martin Luther King, "How long?"

      21             Not long, because the arc of the moral

      22      universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

      23             Thank you.

      24                [Applause.]



       1             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

       2             Let me just ask one question that came up

       3      from the previous testimony, about the overtime

       4      having been put in place to encourage employers to

       5      hire more workers rather than to have workers

       6      working long hours.

       7             Do you believe that this -- what do you think

       8      would be the outcome -- you said it would be cheaper

       9      to just increase the overtime pay.

      10             But, if the purpose of that is to actually

      11      decrease the number of hours people are working, is

      12      that a reasonable goal in agriculture in New York?

      13             STUART MITCHELL:  Yeah, I think the concept

      14      that crosses my mind all the time, is that we built

      15      an agricultural labor structure around the idea that

      16      we have to work 70 hours a week.

      17             That is, in this day and age, not a life-work

      18      balance idea of what work should be.

      19             So that the idea that the families who are at

      20      home without their mother or father, because they're

      21      working 70 hours a week in agriculture, could be

      22      dramatically changed if they were working 40 hours a

      23      week, or 45 hours a week.

      24             I'm only pointing out that it's going take

      25      some adjustment for the system to break away from


       1      that idea that people have to work 70 hours a week

       2      in order for the industry to survive.

       3             That concept will change when these

       4      regulations come in place, just like the minimum

       5      wage created a change, but the industry adjusted to

       6      it.

       7             And they will adjust to this.

       8             They want -- you can hear this, we've got an

       9      incredibly powerful group of entrepreneurs driving

      10      this agricultural industry.

      11             They will make this work.

      12             We will get food, we will eat.

      13             SENATOR METZGER:  So you don't recognize

      14      differences between farming, in terms of the climate

      15      and the dependence on natural forces and other

      16      industries?

      17             You don't see any difference?

      18             STUART MITCHELL:  There absolutely is a

      19      difference, there's no question about it.

      20             All those factors create -- make it difficult

      21      for this industry to get their work done.

      22             My point is, that it shouldn't be done on the

      23      backs of workers.

      24             They've got ways that they can adjust for

      25      those issues, just like they would if a tractor


       1      broke down, or any other number of issues that

       2      impact their business.

       3             Somehow, this idea that agricultural workers

       4      have to be the scapegoat for the weaknesses in the

       5      industry is -- is -- it's just not fair.

       6             It's just simply not fair.

       7             SENATOR MAY:  So let me welcome

       8      Senator Jessica Ramos to Morrisville.

       9             Thank you so much.  I'm glad you made it.

      10             SENATOR RAMOS:  Me too.  I am very glad

      11      I made it too.

      12             SENATOR MAY:  Do you want to make a few

      13      comments of any kind?

      14             SENATOR RAMOS:  Uhm, well, no.

      15             I mean, I just got out of a car where I was

      16      for several hours, but, nevertheless, yes, my

      17      apologies for being late.

      18             We got stuck behind -- we got stuck in

      19      Skoufis country, actually, where a tractor-trailer

      20      flipped, and we were stuck there for a good time.

      21             But, nevertheless, I'm glad to be here, and

      22      to hear everybody's views and voices on this issue.

      23             It's one that we're hoping to remedy soon.

      24             So I am glad to hear everybody's testimony

      25      from every stakeholder that there is.


       1             So thank you for having me.

       2             OFF-CAMERA AUDIENCE MEMBER:  "Thank you,

       3      Mr. Mitchell."

       4             SENATOR MAY:  Jesse Mulbury.

       5             JESSE MULBURY:  So I'd like to start by

       6      thanking Senators May and Metzger and Montgomery and

       7      Ramos for taking the time to hear what we had to say

       8      today.

       9             And there have been plenty of speakers who

      10      are more eloquent than I am, who have spoken

      11      already.

      12             So I think that one of the most valuable

      13      things that I can do here today is talk to you guys

      14      a little bit about my background.

      15             I'm coming from a company called

      16      Northern Orchard up in Clinton County, New York, in

      17      the Champlain Valley, and we are apple-growers, and

      18      we farm about 475 acres of apples, varieties like

      19      Macintosh and Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala.  We're into

      20      the new Cornell varieties, SnapDragon and RubyFrost.

      21             I hope you get a chance to try them.

      22             I'm entering into my eighth harvest at the

      23      farm.  I'm working alongside my sister who is

      24      entering her fourth harvest.  We're the third

      25      generation of farmers making a go at it at


       1      Northern Orchard within our family.

       2             My dad, Albert, has been farming since 1972

       3      at the farm, and our family's involvement in

       4      Northern Orchard started in 1945 with my grandfather

       5      Marcel.

       6             The orchard has been planted since 1906.

       7             So we have a history of over 100 years of

       8      apple growing.

       9             Maybe something a little unique about apple

      10      orchards, and I think I can speak for the way that a

      11      lot of other orchards in our situation operate, is

      12      our heavy, heavy reliance on the H2 program.

      13             We've been participating in the H2A labor

      14      program since the 1970s.

      15             I'm currently 27 years old, and we have

      16      employees who have been coming back, year to year,

      17      in the H2A program for over 30 years; so, literally,

      18      longer than I've been alive.

      19             It's a relationship where I look to these

      20      guys, like Jasper and Lester and David, and I could

      21      go on and on, but, I look to these guys for advice

      22      and guidance in life and in farming.  And I rely on

      23      our relationship to show me the correct way in going

      24      forward as a new farmer, and in addition to what

      25      I've learned growing up on the farm.


       1             We're very concerned about some of the

       2      provisions that are being recommended in the

       3      Farmworker (sic) Fair Labor Practices Act.

       4             And I think maybe I can talk a little bit

       5      about some numbers that we're currently facing.

       6             In 2018 we grossed about $4.7 million on our

       7      farm, and labor accounted for 2.3 million.  So well

       8      over 40 percent of our entire expense was labor.

       9             Every farmworker who comes onto our farm, due

      10      to our heavy reliance on and our relationship with

      11      H2, starts at $13.25 an hour.

      12             As an owner of the farm, I'm currently making

      13      around $17 an hour.

      14             I highlight that point to say, that I think

      15      there are a lot of industries out there in today,

      16      Walmarts and the Amazons and the McDonald's of the

      17      world, where there are some big discrepancies

      18      between what the job owners are doing and what their

      19      workers are doing.

      20             And I want to implore you to consider the

      21      fact that that's not the case on these farms.

      22             I work alongside our employees every day.

      23             I was taught by my father and my grandfather

      24      that you cannot be a boss on a farm.  If you're not

      25      capable of doing that work yourself, how can you


       1      possibly teach somebody else how to do this hands-on

       2      work?

       3             Our calculations show that the time and a

       4      half, 8-a-day, 40-hour-a-week provision would crease

       5      our labor -- per year, our labor costs, by

       6      16 percent.  And during our harvest it would

       7      increase the labor expense by over a third.

       8             In the course of one season that would put us

       9      out of business.

      10             We have a very limited window in the apple

      11      industry, 6 to 8 weeks to pick our entire apple crop

      12      on 475 acres.

      13             That's several hundred thousand trees.  It's

      14      about 21 million apples picked by hand.

      15             I'll go ahead and yield the rest of my time

      16      to any questions, but, I just hope I've given a

      17      little bit of a sense of some of the climate that

      18      are around the farms, and I'd like to stress the

      19      importance of our relationship with our workers.

      20             Thanks.

      21             SENATOR MAY:  So what I'm hearing is the

      22      overtime is the big problem for you in this bill.

      23             Would other aspects of the bill be some --

      24      all right with you, are you okay with that?

      25             JESSE MULBURY:  Sure.


       1             I mean, some things, such as like -- that

       2      have been touched on, like workers' compensation and

       3      unemployment insurance, we already participate in

       4      fully.

       5             I think that the Senators need to consider

       6      the implications on the smallest and the newest

       7      starting farms with regards to some of that

       8      legislation.

       9             The other one in our case that really has me

      10      nervous and is scary to me, is the idea of

      11      collective bargaining.

      12             I think that, on our farm, we're already

      13      dictated by the state and federal department of

      14      labor, wage-and-hour division; department of health;

      15      the EPA; the USDA.

      16             All of these organizations are auditing us

      17      year to year, inspecting us year to year, and all of

      18      them have a say, in one or another, to make sure

      19      that we're being fair and that we are protecting our

      20      workers.

      21             The threat of a strike I think is the

      22      scariest thing to me as a farmer.

      23             If there was like a misguided effort to

      24      strike on the farm during our harvest, that's it for

      25      us.  That's it for us.


       1             We -- my father's been farming his entire

       2      life.  He's brought in 48 crops.

       3             There's not a lot of industries out there

       4      where you have 48 opportunities in a whole lifetime

       5      of working to get it right.

       6             And the mistake made one year, or a crop loss

       7      one year, the effects of that are massive.

       8             It's not -- we grow a crop for a whole year.

       9             It's a slow payoff, you know.

      10             From this time right now, actually, up in our

      11      region, we're just getting into what we call "green

      12      tip."  The trees are breaking their dormancy, and

      13      it's time for us to go, it's time to start

      14      protecting the trees.  We have to finish up our

      15      pruning and make sure everything is good to go for

      16      the fruit to grow.

      17             And we have a very limited time to do that.

      18             And so I just say that to highlight the fact

      19      there are very critical times of year where the

      20      threat of a strike, or whatever term you would want

      21      to use for it, would just have devastating

      22      implications on our farm.

      23             I also would just like to say that we

      24      wouldn't be around if it wasn't for our H2 guys and

      25      the relationship that we have.


       1             We wouldn't have made it all this time

       2      because, we have 35 full-time employees.  For our

       3      harvest we go to 180, if that gives a sense of the

       4      labor input that's required to bring in an apple

       5      crop.

       6             It's simply massive.

       7             And if we don't have a good working

       8      relationship with our guys, if we weren't fair and

       9      transparent, and we didn't have that relationship of

      10      respect, we would be out of the industry very

      11      quickly.

      12             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      13             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Thank you for your

      14      testimony.

      15             Obviously, apples are very important to

      16      everybody in our state.

      17             I just wanted -- you may have mentioned it,

      18      and I missed it.

      19             What's the length of your season, and how

      20      many employees does it -- do you require in order to

      21      get through a season?

      22             JESSE MULBURY:  Yes, ma'am.

      23             So our season -- basically, our growing

      24      season goes from, about, sometime here in April, it

      25      kind of varies year to year, depending on how the


       1      winter finishes it up, but let's call it, April to

       2      about mid-November.  That's our opportunity to grow

       3      a crop.

       4             But that being said, as soon as that crop is

       5      finished and the trees go dormant, those trees were

       6      growing branches all year long.  All kinds of --

       7      they're in the business of growing bigger, as trees

       8      do.  And so all winterlong we prune back the trees.

       9             That's kind of our winter job.

      10             So there's always times in every season of

      11      the year when there are some major labor

      12      requirements.

      13             Due to the nature of the H2A program, our --

      14      you know, it's for a seasonal need for labor.  So we

      15      begin participating in that program around

      16      April 1st, and we finish up around December 1st.

      17             We rely a local crew to get as much of the

      18      pruning done as we can throughout the winter.

      19             We -- so our crew at its smallest is about

      20      35 people, local full-time employees.

      21             In April we bring on our first 25 H2A

      22      employees, so that brings our crew up to about 65.

      23             In July that number jumps to about 80.

      24             And in September we bring in an additional

      25      100, to bring the total to 180, to bring in the


       1      crop.

       2             And then that tapers off in November and

       3      December, back down to the 35 for the winter months.

       4             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Thank you.

       5             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

       6             JESSE MULBURY:  Thank you, guys.

       7             SENATOR METZGER:  Thanks very much for your

       8      testimony.

       9             HERBERT ENGMAN:  Good afternoon.

      10             My name is Herb Engman, and I had a 35-year

      11      career at Cornell University.

      12             SENATOR MAY:  Let me interrupt just for one

      13      second.

      14             Yusuf Abdul-Qadir, who was on the program

      15      earlier, I gather that he's here.  So I'm going to

      16      ask him to go after you.

      17             So, if you'd come up, please.  Thank you.

      18             Go ahead.

      19             HERBERT ENGMAN:  During that 35-year career,

      20      I was, for 30 years, the director of the Cornell

      21      Migrant Program, which is a migrant farmworker

      22      program.

      23             And after I retired, I became the elected

      24      town supervisor of the Town of Ithaca, which is

      25      full-time.


       1             So during those years I learned something

       2      about farmers, something about farmworkers, and

       3      something about public policy.

       4             And what one of the main things I learned,

       5      was that the public policy of the United States and

       6      New York State is, basically, based on racism and

       7      discrimination.

       8             You've already heard from Brian that the

       9      public policy at the national level, how that

      10      worked, and a compromise with southern legislators.

      11             In New York State, the state constitution

      12      says that all workers have the right to bargain

      13      collectively.

      14             Farmworkers are excluded because they're not

      15      defined as "employees."

      16             From everything I've heard today, from

      17      farmers, from workers, they certainly sound like

      18      employees to me.

      19             Calls for changes in New York State are not

      20      new, as Brian mentioned earlier.

      21             In 1989 there was a major attempt.

      22             There was a publication called "Agricultural

      23      Labor Markets in New York State, and Implications

      24      for Labor Policy."

      25             It concluded that, quote:  Farmworkers in


       1      New York State should be granted the right to

       2      organize unions and bargain collectively, and, other

       3      statutes that set apart farmworkers and farm

       4      employees from their agricultural peers should also

       5      be reconsidered.

       6             The point, is to eliminate agriculture's

       7      special treatment, and to ensure that equal rights

       8      protection and obligations prevail for employees and

       9      employers across all sectors of the state's economy.

      10             Continued public-policy discrimination is a

      11      major reason why there's been so little progress for

      12      farmworkers in New York State.

      13             Another reason has been, that farmers have

      14      argued that improvements will put them out of

      15      business.

      16             When drinking water in the fields was

      17      required in 1996, they said it would put them out of

      18      business.

      19             It didn't.

      20             When access to toilets was required in 1998,

      21      they said it would put them out of business.

      22             It didn't.

      23             When equal minimum wage was passed in 2000,

      24      they said would it put them out of business.

      25             It did not.


       1             The agricultural industry will argue that the

       2      Fair Labor Practices Act will put farmers out of

       3      businesses.

       4             It will not.

       5             California has protected farmworkers much

       6      better than New York State, and they have a rather

       7      robust agricultural industry.

       8             If lawmakers wish to help small farmers, they

       9      could redirect some of the 300 million-plus dollars

      10      per year in subsidies, agricultural programs, and

      11      tax breaks that the taxpayers already contribute to

      12      New York agriculture.

      13             It is absurd and unfair that large farmers

      14      get the lion's share of taxpayer money, not small

      15      farmers, and certainly not farmworkers.

      16             Farmworkers should not bear the burden of bad

      17      public policy.

      18             Equality for farmworkers will be good for

      19      farmers.

      20             It will remove the stigma of taking advantage

      21      of farmworkers.

      22             It will improve the likelihood of recruiting

      23      local workers and retaining well-trained employees.

      24             Above all, it will be the fair thing to do.

      25             After all, when does the economic prosperity


       1      of one person justify the exploitation of another?

       2             For the benefit of farmworkers, farmers, and

       3      taxpayers, it is time to pass the Farmworkers Fair

       4      Labor Practices Act.

       5             Thank you.

       6                [Applause.]

       7             SENATOR MAY:  That was exactly four minutes,

       8      I'm very impressed.

       9             SENATOR METZGER:  I have a question.

      10             The $300 million, where are you getting that

      11      figure?

      12             We just did the budget, so I didn't notice

      13      nowhere close to that.

      14             HERBERT ENGMAN:  The Environmental Working

      15      Group, the -- called "EWG," lists the federal

      16      subsidies on their website.

      17             This was, 1917 was the latest.

      18             And New York farmers get $92.9 million in

      19      federal monies, which, of course, is partially paid

      20      by New York State taxpayers.

      21             Now, New York State subsidies are more

      22      elusive.  I don't know that there's any one place

      23      you can find them.

      24             But ag and markets, which is dedicated

      25      totally to agriculture, gets about $200 million a


       1      year.

       2             And there's something called the "Governor's

       3      Report on Tax Expenditures."  These are tax breaks.

       4             Farmer get $68.64 million a year from that

       5      source.

       6             So I couldn't find any commodity payments,

       7      like for apples and onions.  But every once in a

       8      while there are some chunks of money that come from

       9      the State, but I don't know if there's been any in

      10      recent years.

      11             But that gets to well over $300 million a

      12      year, close to $400 million.  The taxpayers are

      13      providing for the support of agriculture in

      14      New York.

      15             SENATOR MAY:  And the breakdown you said was

      16      mostly to larger farms?

      17             HERBERT ENGMAN:  The federal subsidies

      18      particularly, yes, go directly to the large farmers.

      19             It's based on milk volume, and that sort of

      20      thing, which is absurd.

      21             It's the small farmers that need support; not

      22      the large ones, they're doing very well.

      23             SENATOR METZGER:  All right, just to clarify,

      24      most of New York's farms are small and midsize

      25      farms.


       1             SENATOR MAY:  Any other questions?

       2             SENATOR RAMOS:  I'm good.

       3             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

       4             So for anyone who's keeping score here, we're

       5      back to Witness Number 10, Yusuf Abdul-Qadir.

       6             Thank you for being here.

       7             YUSUF ABDUL-QADIR:  Thank you, Senator.

       8             And, I mean, I just want to acknowledge the

       9      predecessor -- my predecessor, because I think he

      10      has really articulated some issues that need to be

      11      really thought through, and I definitely appreciate

      12      his testimony.

      13             Good afternoon.

      14             As Senator May said, and good afternoon,

      15      Senators, my name is Yusuf Abdul-Qadir, and I'm the

      16      Central New York chapter director for the New York

      17      Civil Liberties Union.

      18             The NYCLU, or, the ACLU of New York, is a

      19      not-for-profit, non-partisan organization, with

      20      eight offices throughout New York State, and more

      21      than 120,000 members and supporters.

      22             Our mission is to promote and protect the

      23      fundamental rights, principles, and values embodied

      24      in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution and

      25      the New York State Constitution.


       1             I am here today to speak in support of the

       2      Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, which would

       3      have remove the exclusion of farmworkers from

       4      New York labor law protections, and thereby provide

       5      farmworkers with the basic labor rights that almost

       6      all other hourly workers in our state receive.

       7             Agriculture is a multi-billion-dollar

       8      industry in New York.

       9             New York ranks among the top agricultural

      10      states in the country.  It is the second-largest

      11      producer of apples, snap beans, maple syrup, and is

      12      the third-largest dairy producer in the nation.

      13             We've heard from some of those folks here

      14      today.

      15             None of this production would be possible

      16      without the workers who harvest the crops and

      17      operate the dairies in our state.

      18             Farmwork is grueling, it is dangerous, and

      19      can even be life-threatening.

      20             Workers are exposed to pesticides and other

      21      chemicals, intense physical strain, extreme heat and

      22      cold, and dangerous animals and machinery.

      23             Between 2006 and 2016, 69 farm fatalities

      24      were reported to the New York State Department of

      25      Health.


       1             Farmworkers work long hours with no overtime

       2      pay.

       3             A recent survey of Hispanic dairy workers in

       4      New York reveals that the average daily work shift

       5      is 11.3 hours, and the most workers, 89 percent,

       6      work six days a week.

       7             And for female workers, work conditions often

       8      included the added harm of sexual harassment or

       9      assault.

      10             The exclusion of farmworkers from fundamental

      11      labor protections dates back to a racist compromise

      12      made between President Roosevelt and southern

      13      segregationist legislators over FDR's "New Deal."

      14             To win support for the newly-created federal

      15      labor law, agriculture and domestic workers,

      16      primarily Black workers at the time, were explicitly

      17      excluded from coverage.

      18             Subsequent state labor laws, including

      19      New York's, retained this racist exclusion.

      20             Although 13 states have enacted substantial

      21      labor protections for farmworkers, New York has

      22      remained shamefully silent for over 80 years.

      23             Enacting the Farmworker (sic) Fair Labor

      24      Practices Act will finally provide farmworkers with

      25      the equal rights that they deserve; namely, the


       1      right to a weekly day of rest, overtime pay,

       2      workers' compensation regardless of farm size,

       3      regular health and safety inspections for all

       4      farmworker housing, and collective bargaining rights

       5      so workers can advocate for better work conditions

       6      without fear of being fired.

       7             We, the NYCLU, have been active on this

       8      issue, bringing it to the highest court in the

       9      state.

      10             As you heard from others, and some of our

      11      colleagues like Crispin Hernandez, this issue is one

      12      that requires the better angels of ourselves to

      13      emerge and for our serious attention to be given to

      14      it.

      15             We rarely ask where the food we eat comes

      16      from or whose hands have toiled.

      17             In order to ensure we have access to it, our

      18      litigation is one of the ways we're involved in this

      19      work, but we are deploying our statewide

      20      infrastructure to raising awareness of this issue

      21      alongside allies and directly-impacted individuals,

      22      like Crispin.

      23             In 2019, our most valuable work -- vulnerable

      24      workers should not be denied basic labor

      25      protections.


       1             Passage of the Farmworker (sic) Fair Labor

       2      Practices Act will not only fix this historic error,

       3      but it will send a strong signal that New York

       4      stands firm with all workers.

       5             The time has come to eliminate one of the

       6      last vestiges of Jim Crowe, and for New York to make

       7      good on its promise to be one of the most

       8      progressive and pro-labor states in the nation.

       9             This is why I strongly urge you to pass the

      10      Farmworker (sic) Fair Labor Practices Act this

      11      session.

      12             Thank you.

      13             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      14             Let me ask you a question, something that

      15      came up I think before you got here.

      16             But one thing that we heard was that, the

      17      overtime-pay provision was put in place to encourage

      18      employers to employ more workers, not to pay workers

      19      more.

      20             Is that your understanding?

      21             Because that is probably the most contentious

      22      aspect of this bill from the viewpoint of farmers.

      23             And, one of the arguments is, that they will

      24      need to cut back the hours of their employees, and

      25      employ more laborers, instead of paying their


       1      current laborers more because they just can't afford

       2      to do that.

       3             So, I'm just wondering, is that your

       4      understanding of the history of that --

       5             YUSUF ABDUL-QADIR:  Uhm --

       6             SENATOR MAY:  -- protection?

       7             YUSUF ABDUL-QADIR:  -- I think -- I've heard

       8      a number of people say this today.

       9             And throughout, you know, my work on this

      10      issue across Central New York and the state, it's

      11      something that's been brought up many times.

      12             I think it's important to recognize that this

      13      is, in some respects, a false-positive, and by that

      14      I mean, we're not asking the fundamental question,

      15      as to whether or not farmworkers should be excluded

      16      like every other worker, which is really the

      17      question at hand.

      18             The question at hand is:  Should farmworkers

      19      be excluded particularly because of a racist policy?

      20             And it's important, and I think we appreciate

      21      the challenges, where some small farms in particular

      22      could find this to be challenging for them.

      23             And I think there are ways for the

      24      legislative process to identify, investigate, and

      25      address those issues, to the extent that those are


       1      the more egregious ones that are brought about in

       2      this particular piece of legislation.

       3             Unfortunately, though, what we really should

       4      be asking, is whether or not we should exclude this

       5      class of workers from any other workers?

       6             And, should we, as a state, in 2019, continue

       7      to allow, really, a racist policy to exist

       8      irrespective of what folks would argue is a

       9      challenge for them?

      10             And I think, you know, there was a gentleman

      11      who was here prior to me, who said that, you know,

      12      "entrepreneurs will figure it out."

      13             We're able to identify these challenges and

      14      create solutions accordingly, and I think that's

      15      going to be an important avenue to approach.

      16             SENATOR MAY:  Do you have suggestions of what

      17      some of the fixes could be for the small farmers?

      18             YUSUF ABDUL-QADIR:  I think we can -- I'll

      19      make a note to make sure to provide that to your

      20      office, and as well, the rest of the Senators, if

      21      that's something that is requested of us.

      22             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      23             TRAVIS TORREY:  Thank you, Senators, for

      24      taking time here today.

      25             I really appreciate the chance to comment on


       1      the Farmworker (sic) Fair Labor Practices Act.

       2             My name is Travis Torrey.  I'm a

       3      twelfth-generation family farmer at Torrey Farms

       4      based in Genesee County.

       5             Our farm encompasses nine family members of

       6      the eleventh and twelfth generation, alongside

       7      180 year-round employees, and an additional

       8      250 seasonal employees during the peak season on the

       9      farm.

      10             Farming is a way of life.

      11             Mother Nature rules when and how everything

      12      happens on our farm.

      13             Our seasonal climate limits the times of year

      14      during which we can make a crop in New York.

      15             Farmers cannot plan and schedule when work

      16      can be done.

      17             The 8-hour day restriction before overtime

      18      kicks in is a tremendous burden.

      19             It is not uncommon to work full hours one day

      20      due to weather, and twelve the next, depending on

      21      the weather, especially the spring that we've been

      22      experiencing here in Western New York.

      23             The farmworkers on our farm have tremendous

      24      pride in the work they do.

      25             They are all part of our team, and they


       1      understand better than anyone the control that

       2      Mother Nature has on our farming operation.

       3             I work alongside these farmworkers, like

       4      Leandro Mateos right here, day in and day out.

       5             They are like family.

       6             We often will find work in odd jobs for our

       7      farmworkers to do when it is raining or too muddy to

       8      get in the fields.

       9             This is something that will become of the

      10      past with the bill that is being passed.

      11             We will have to cut corners any way we can to

      12      stay competitive in our industry.

      13             Farm jobs have been given -- farm jobs have

      14      given many opportunities to farmworkers that may --

      15      that may -- they may never have had a chance at.

      16             We have employees who have put their children

      17      through college, have gone on to purchase their own

      18      homes, are building homes for family in Mexico, and

      19      have retirement accounts, along with many other

      20      benefits.

      21             The seasonal workers on our farm who come

      22      under the H2A program will seek other work in other

      23      states, and will choose not to come to New York,

      24      because they want the hours and they want to make as

      25      much money as they can for the limited time they are


       1      here working in our country.

       2             The prices that we receive are determined by

       3      many factors out of our control, including supply

       4      and demand, and competition coming from our

       5      neighbors to the north, Canada, and other growers in

       6      neighboring states, both of which who do not have

       7      overtime provisions in place.

       8             As has been seen in California where overtime

       9      positions have been passed, production has been

      10      moved to Mexico where farmworkers are making $15 or

      11      less per day picking strawberries, instead of over

      12      $15 an hour they were making in California.

      13             Local processors will move operations to

      14      other states where products can be grown cheap

      15      enough to supply them.

      16             The dairy cooperative that we are a member of

      17      has invested in and owns the bottling equipment that

      18      provides milk to the public schools of

      19      New York City.

      20             Many of the businesses on the Hunts Point

      21      Terminal Market, the largest wholesale market in the

      22      world, are huge purchasers of locally-grown produce

      23      from New York State.

      24             Where will this affordable local produce come

      25      from?


       1             The margins just are not there on our fresh

       2      vegetables and dairy products, and increased costs

       3      of production cannot be passed along.

       4             We as shippers will simply be passed over for

       5      fresh vegetables and dairy products that can be

       6      grown less in neighboring states and countries.

       7             The farming landscape in New York will change

       8      dramatically -- drastically if this bill becomes

       9      law.

      10             Some farms will close up shop and sell out.

      11             Others will grow less labor-intensive crops,

      12      eliminating as many farm jobs as possible.

      13             Those that have the resource to do so will

      14      move their operations to other states, and I know of

      15      some that have already started that process.

      16             Our vegetables and dairy products can both be

      17      produced in other states, and, unfortunately,

      18      nothing that we grow here in New York is specific to

      19      our region.

      20             Our neighboring states and Canada will

      21      benefit from our inability to compete.

      22             In peak season we have over 400 employees

      23      working together, to create a crop.

      24             SENATOR MAY:  I need to interrupt you, your

      25      time is up.


       1             TRAVIS TORREY:  Oh, sorry.

       2             SENATOR MAY:  I'm sorry.

       3             Did you want to --

       4             LEANDRO MATEOS-GAYTAN:  Yes.

       5             I'm Leandro Mateos, and I'm a representative

       6      of my fellow co-workers at Torrey Farms who are

       7      working today to get all these year crops planted.

       8             I have been working for Torrey Farms for

       9      30 years.  When I started working with the company,

      10      the Torrey family treated me as a family.

      11             Every farm, we pack cucumbers, cabbage,

      12      pumpkin, green beans, zucchini, potatoes, onions,

      13      and we also pack winter squash, such as Butternut,

      14      Acorn, and Buttercup, and many pumpkins.

      15             The Torrey company is the largest in the

      16      state of New York, with more than 15,000 acres, and

      17      with two dairies, one located in -- located in

      18      Lyndonville, New York, and the other one in Elba,

      19      New York.

      20             In April we started to plant onions and

      21      cabbage.  In May, we plant cucumbers and zucchini.

      22             Torrey Farms has H2A workers who come with a

      23      work visa.  Approximately 300 people, work, on

      24      average, of 70 to 80 hours a week in the harvesting

      25      season.


       1             The company, Torrey Farms, helps people in

       2      need; for example, the food bank.

       3             They make donation to the food bank every

       4      year, a total of 6 millions pounds of the products

       5      they harvest.

       6             We (indiscernible) 125 trailers a year.

       7             Donations are taken to different states,

       8      mostly to New York City.

       9             The company, Torrey Farms, also give us free

      10      housing at no cost, and the houses they give us are

      11      in very good conditions.  And also provide

      12      transportation.

      13             Personally, I'm very grateful to Torrey Farms

      14      because they give me housing for my family, and

      15      benefits, such as vacations, personal days, sick

      16      days, and holidays, as well a 401(k) plan, medical

      17      and dental insurance.

      18             Because of all this benefits, my son

      19      Leon (ph.) Mateos realized his dream of going to

      20      University at Rochester for four years, and then to

      21      the SMU (indiscernible), the number-one university,

      22      and (indiscernible).  My son Leon now works for

      23      (indiscernible), and his first game is coming out in

      24      September, (indiscernible).

      25             All this was possible because Torrey Farms


       1      give me the benefits of a free house and many hours

       2      of work.

       3             The one of the universities was very

       4      expensive.

       5             After scholarship and school loans, there was

       6      a still balance.  Thanks to all the hours I worked,

       7      I was able to pay.

       8             I have a daughter who is in eighth grade and

       9      a high honor.  She's in a dance competition too, and

      10      her dream is also to go to university.

      11             Now, with this new law, they want to

      12      (indiscernible) -- they -- to reduce the only hours

      13      per week is going to hurt the lives of my family,

      14      and many others.

      15             How can I put my daughter's (indiscernible)

      16      tuition, (indiscernible), and the university?

      17             The law of reducing 40 hours per week will

      18      make (indiscernible) people H2A and migrants to

      19      start migrating to other states where they can work

      20      more than 40 hours.

      21             New York is going to suffer the consequences

      22      because the workers of the farms and dairies will

      23      leave to look for work to other states.

      24             The farmers only have four months to raise

      25      the harvest, and that's not counting the rainy days.


       1      Sometimes it's two or three days raining, and no one

       2      works.

       3             And that why -- and that's why, when the

       4      weather is good, we take advantage to do what we

       5      can.

       6             I want to thank you, Senator Jessica Ramos,

       7      thank you Jen Metzger, and Rachel May, and the rest

       8      of the board.

       9             Thank you.

      10             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      11             SENATOR RAMOS:  Thank you.

      12             SENATOR MAY:  Any questions?

      13             All right.  Thank you very much.

      14             SENATOR RAMOS:  Thank you very much.

      15                (Mr. Torrey and Mr. Mateos-Gaytan leave the

      16        witness table.)

      17             SENATOR MAY:  We have Librada Paz?

      18             Okay.

      19             LIBRADA PAZ:  Every year I talk to a lot of

      20      workers, asking about the working conditions.  So

      21      many of them have their own stories.

      22             Workers work 70 to 80 hours per week, even

      23      more, depending on the season, just like how they

      24      mentioned, from 7 a.m. until dark.

      25             So how many hours hand laborer and no


       1      overtime?

       2             Farmers are actually benefiting for saving

       3      almost another shift from those hand laborer.

       4             Workers get sick for excessive work because

       5      there is no time for them to care for their

       6      well-being.  There's no disability insurance.

       7      There's no time for them go for a doctor for a

       8      medical checkup.

       9             Many workers die because of malnutrition and

      10      because of the excess of work.

      11             Some farmers care more about the animals,

      12      about the crops, than they care more about the

      13      workers.

      14             So, when the workers get sick, they can't

      15      have a day off to go do those medical checkup.

      16             Like I say, a lot of people die because of

      17      that.

      18             A lot of people also get injured from all

      19      type of agriculture.

      20             From falling on a ladder, from losing a hand

      21      by cutting a cabbage on the field, and all those

      22      type of things, and people are afraid to complain.

      23             Cows kick on the chest, and people were not

      24      complain because they are afraid of being fire.

      25             Worker has been so loyal to their work, so


       1      many of them even give their life accidentally to

       2      protect the work duties, and, still, a lot of them

       3      will not complain because, if they complain, they

       4      afraid of being fire.

       5             Because they are afraid of being fire, they

       6      rather just not complain.

       7             All of the workers will do a lot in their

       8      abilities to produce a lot.

       9             They will actually, just like what you heard,

      10      people do really want to do a lot of work, and,

      11      also, they do a lot of work and they do a lot of

      12      hours because they don't get paid enough.

      13             So sometime White farmers do really care

      14      about the cars and the crops because they would lose

      15      a lot, of course.

      16             But how about when you lose a human life, did

      17      you ever care about that?  Did you care about what

      18      they lost?

      19             Some people have died.

      20             Some people lost part of their body for

      21      working there.

      22             And a lot of them will complain.

      23             Over 90 percent of them, or more, will not

      24      complain because of that issue, because they are

      25      afraid of speaking up.


       1             They are afraid of -- because they don't have

       2      a right to speak up, huh, because if they speak up,

       3      they be fire.

       4             If they are here today, and you are a farmer,

       5      you probably will fire them.

       6             Just because of that reason, they rather be

       7      quiet and not say anything.

       8             It is so unfair.

       9             They are not machines.

      10             They are human beings.

      11             They have feelings when they get hurt.  They

      12      got feelings when they go to the hospital, and not

      13      able to make a home back.

      14             I think that's what we really have to take

      15      care of.  They're human beings, they need time; they

      16      need time to care for themselves, to care for the

      17      family.

      18             Those families who has kids home, and they

      19      grow up by themself, and nobody should care about

      20      them, because they just there by themselves because

      21      the parents are working so many hours, so long, and

      22      they have no time for them.

      23             Also, if they complain, I'm sure that they --

      24      how do you call that? -- they been told, that if you

      25      complain, if you're a slow worker, you probably will


       1      be fire.

       2             If you are fire, also -- if you complain, I'm

       3      sorry, you will simply be replaced by another

       4      HA (sic) worker who comes in.  Just like what you

       5      have heard, a lot of them hire HA (sic) workers.

       6             Why not citizens do this work?

       7             Because they are hard-working condition.

       8             So we'll just keep in mind, citizen, if you

       9      haven't had experience in the work, you should try

      10      and realize how hard it is.

      11             For all of those reasons, that's how -- why

      12      I became an advocate for the farmworkers.

      13             Thank you.

      14             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      15             We've heard from a number of farmers that, if

      16      hours were reduced to 40 hours a week, that the

      17      farmers would leave and go to other states where

      18      they could work more.

      19             Is that your experience in speaking with

      20      farmworkers?

      21             LIBRADA PAZ:  I do understand that, yes, that

      22      is a disadvantage about it.

      23             I mean, a lot of people do want to work, like

      24      what we have said, like what they heard.

      25             But because sometimes they don't get enough


       1      pay.  But if they would pay overtime, I'm sure that

       2      the people would also realize that, I mean, by

       3      adding the overtime to the people, why not get the

       4      benefit for that for the workers, and not just the

       5      farmer themself benefit for the hand laborer of not

       6      paying overtime.

       7             So I think we have to really balance this

       8      off.

       9             And, also, like I said, a lot of people

      10      working so much.  And, also, some of those people,

      11      or most of those people, also want a lot less hours,

      12      because they have families, and because they have

      13      the school activities, and all those things.

      14             So they, basically, have family who cares

      15      about the kids, and they want those day offs -- or,

      16      hours cut off.

      17             I actually talked to one of the students --

      18      one of the -- I'm sorry, one of the gentleman

      19      workers that comes in, some of the visa workers that

      20      would comes in, and they said, you know, I would

      21      like the do some other activities outside.  Well, we

      22      can't even go because we come so late at home.

      23             I mean, you know, like, what you heard,

      24      80 hours per week, do you have time to do other

      25      activities?


       1             No, they don't.

       2             So they really want to be part of that

       3      because they have a life, and they really wanted to

       4      do something else.

       5             So, for that, really help out if they reduce

       6      the hours.  And get a retirement, of course.

       7             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

       8             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  I'm listening to the --

       9      your testimony, and I'm feeling that there is so

      10      much more in common between elected officials and

      11      the farmworkers, because some of the issues that you

      12      just raised, the many, many hours; no overtime;

      13      underpaid; that's all very much a part of what

      14      happens to us.

      15             Just so you know.

      16             So, I just -- we could use some advocacy as

      17      well.

      18             SENATOR RAMOS:  We're going unionize too,

      19      Valmanette.

      20             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  No unions for us either.

      21      No overtime.

      22             Just so you know.

      23             We could use your help.

      24             SENATOR RAMOS:  As can our staff.

      25             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  They didn't know before


       1      they came in the business.

       2             I've been here a long time, so I can identify

       3      with you.

       4             SENATOR RAMOS:  She's younger than --

       5             SENATOR METZGER:  So we're going to take just

       6      a 10-minute break, so people can use the bathroom,

       7      get a drink.

       8             We'll resume.

       9             What's the actual time?

      10             Okay.

      11             Please be back in the room at a quarter of

      12      two.

      13                (The hearing stands in recess.)

      14                (The hearing resumes.)

      15             SENATOR MAY:  Hi, everybody.

      16             Let me ask you to take your seats again.

      17             We need to get started so we can get out in a

      18      timely manner.

      19             So, please take your seats.

      20             Is Errol Percell here?

      21             Gabriela, did you want to make a presentation

      22      as well?

      23             Okay.

      24             Why don't we get started.

      25             We have Gabriela Quintanilla, is that how you


       1      pronounce it?

       2             Okay.

       3             GABRIELA QUINTANILLA:  Thank you so much.

       4             Before I start, I just want to give a quick

       5      statement in Spanish.

       6             (Witness speaking in Spanish).

       7             My name is Gabriela Quintanilla, and I'm the

       8      proud daughter of a poultry worker.

       9             I became involved with Rural and Migrant

      10      Ministry during my teenaged years because I wanted

      11      to learn more about the rights of my mother as a

      12      poultry worker.

      13             My mother was unable at the time to have a

      14      union because that was not something that the

      15      factory allowed.

      16             Eventually, with lots of hard work and

      17      community organizers, such factory was able to allow

      18      for a union.

      19             This changed my mother's lives (sic), and the

      20      life of my sisters and I.

      21             Farmworkers in the state of New York do not

      22      have access to collecting -- collective bargaining

      23      rights.

      24             As a community member and organizer, I can

      25      not tell you how many times I have heard:


       1             That women are being harassed;

       2             The farmworkers' paychecks are being stolen,

       3      because the boss decided that he didn't want to pay

       4      them;

       5             Or the fact that they got injured on the job,

       6      but their boss did nothing to help them until it was

       7      too late.

       8             The right to collectively bargain would allow

       9      for farmworkers to speak for themselves and join a

      10      union that protects them.

      11             At the same time, a day of rest is needed

      12      farmworkers.

      13             By not having a day of rest, it affects the

      14      family, their children.

      15             Many of the students that I work with say

      16      that they feel abandoned because their parents don't

      17      have time to spend with them.

      18             The fact that farmworkers do not have a day

      19      of rest and are constantly being exploited means

      20      that their families are suffering.

      21             It is not just about collective bargaining

      22      rights and a day of rest, it is about human dignity.

      23             It is about the acknowledgment that the

      24      exploitation of farmworkers has been happening for

      25      too long.


       1             Farmworkers are the beginning of our food

       2      chain, and yet they continue to be devalued for

       3      their work.

       4             The time to change this is now.

       5             And all of the Senators that are in this room

       6      today, have the power to do that for the sake of our

       7      future generation.

       8             We have to do better today.

       9             We cannot hide behind oppressive practices

      10      and continue the exploitation of Black and Brown

      11      bodies in the state of New York.

      12             Enough is enough.

      13             Thank you.

      14             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      15             SENATOR RAMOS:  Gracias.

      16             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you very much.

      17                (Ms. Paz and Ms. Quintanilla leave the

      18        witness table.)

      19             DIANA CABA:  Good afternoon.

      20             My name is Diana Caba, and I'm senior

      21      director of economic empowerment at the Hispanic

      22      Federation.

      23             Chairs Metzger, Ramos, Senators May and

      24      Montgomery, thank you so much for allowing me the

      25      opportunity to testify on behalf of the Hispanic


       1      Federation and our network of 100 Latino-based --

       2      Latino community-based organizations.

       3             The Hispanic Federation is a service-oriented

       4      membership organization that works with more than

       5      100 Latino non-profits in the northeast and

       6      nationwide to promote the social, political, and

       7      economic well-being of the Latino community.

       8             We do that by supporting and strengthening

       9      Latino non-profits, conducting public policy,

      10      research, and advocacy, and offering our New York

      11      residents with an array of community programs in the

      12      areas of education, immigration, health, economic

      13      empowerment, disaster relief, and civic engagement.

      14             With the interest of the Latino community at

      15      stake, we are here to -- today to express our strong

      16      support for passage of the New York State

      17      Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, Senate

      18      Bill 2837.

      19             The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

      20      granted -- grants basic labor protections to farm

      21      laborers; among them, collective bargaining rights,

      22      8-hour workdays, overtime rates, 24 hours of

      23      consecutive -- excuse me, 24 consecutive hours of

      24      rest each week, unemployment insurance, workers'

      25      compensation, and a sanitary code which applies to


       1      all farm and food-processing labor camps housing

       2      migrant workers.

       3             Farmers -- farmworkers labor under harsh

       4      conditions and engage in intensive physical activity

       5      to feed all of us, yet they're exempt from several

       6      fundamental rights and protections that are afforded

       7      to all other workers.

       8             An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 farm laborers

       9      in New York are currently excluded from basic labor

      10      protections under state and federal law.

      11             The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

      12      would ensure that the conditions in which

      13      farmworker -- farmworker-laborers labor are more

      14      safe, sanitary, and humane.

      15             By passing this act, New York would reinforce

      16      the need for laws, protecting farmworkers and our

      17      workforce.

      18             New York can pave the way for other states to

      19      pass progressive labor policies that are good for

      20      our community and our economy.

      21             Nearly 80 years have passed since Jim Crow

      22      Era of racial bias caused farmworkers to be excluded

      23      from the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, yet

      24      New York has perpetuated the exclusion of farmworker

      25      from labor rights, while the state continues to have


       1      one of the nation's largest and most robust

       2      agricultural economies.

       3             In 2017, New York farms generated over

       4      4.8 billion in revenue, and contributed nearly

       5      2.4 billion to our gross domestic product.

       6             As many of our farmers see their economic

       7      situation improving, many of our farmworkers do not.

       8             These workers, many of them immigrants, some

       9      of them undocumented, work 60 to 80 hours a week

      10      without workers' compensation, without being paid

      11      overtime, and face exploitation and oppression on a

      12      regular basis.

      13             They are also denied the right to organize

      14      and bargain which is guaranteed to employees under

      15      the New York State Constitution.

      16             To deny this already vulnerable population

      17      the equal access to protections and benefits in

      18      their place of work contradict our values as a state

      19      and as a country.

      20             By protecting our farmworkers, New York can

      21      continue to position itself as one of the largest

      22      economies in the world while reaping the benefits of

      23      increased economic opportunities for its workers and

      24      their families.

      25             This is not about putting farmworkers ahead


       1      of farms.

       2             It's about lifting an entire industry in our

       3      great state.

       4             It is about basic human rights, and ensuring

       5      that farmworkers will be treated humanely with

       6      dignity and respect.

       7             We urge our state Legislature to pass into

       8      law the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act before

       9      the end of the 2019 legislative session.

      10             We're counting on your leadership to guide

      11      New York in the right direction, and help remove the

      12      statutory exclusions that deny farmworkers these

      13      rights.

      14             The Hispanic Federation wants to thank you

      15      again for inviting us to share this testimony.

      16             It is critically important for the

      17      Legislature to continue to lead efforts to ensure

      18      that farmworkers have access to what they need to

      19      sustain a quality of life in the great state of

      20      New York.

      21             Let 2019 be the year that marks the end of

      22      the shameful legacy of exclusion, and allows us to

      23      say with moral certainty, that New York honors the

      24      dignity of all.

      25             Thank you.


       1             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

       2             Let me ask one question.

       3             Because I -- because I represent farmworkers,

       4      and farmers, both, in my district, I'm grappling

       5      with a lot of the conflicting issues that we're

       6      hearing today.

       7             And, so, I'm trying to figure out this -- the

       8      overtime issue, and how it impacts the farm economy.

       9             And so if -- if we had a situation where we

      10      passed the bill as it is now, and the farmers were

      11      able to charge the workers for their housing and the

      12      other on-farm benefits that they receive, would that

      13      answer the concerns that you are raising about

      14      dignity and fairness?

      15             DIANA CABA:  Well, I'm -- at the moment I'm

      16      not prepared to respond to that, because I don't

      17      know exactly what those costs are, and what, you

      18      know, support farmers get to also provide housing

      19      for their workers.

      20             So I can find out that information and get

      21      back to you on that.

      22             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      23             DIANA CABA:  Thank you.

      24             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.



       1             ANTHONY EMMI:  Thank you, Senators, for

       2      letting us testify here today, and setting this up.

       3             Good afternoon.

       4             My name is Anthony Emmi.

       5             My family owns and operates Emmi and Sons,

       6      Incorporated, a fruit and vegetable farm in

       7      Baldwinsville.

       8             I'm a third-generation farmer.  I grew up

       9      working on our family farm.

      10             I served in the Army for seven years,

      11      including a combat tour, and returned home to the

      12      farm in 1992 to, hopefully, a more peaceful life.

      13             25 of 70 seasonal employees are H2A workers.

      14      The majority of our H2A workers have been with us

      15      for 10-plus years.

      16             Other farmworkers have been with us from

      17      20 to over 30 years.

      18             Our employees like to work on our farm.

      19             I have four concerns with the proposed

      20      legislation:

      21             Overtime.  This provision will put an end to

      22      the way we farm.  We simply don't have the income to

      23      make it happen.

      24             Each year we absorb increases in wages,

      25      taxes, and regulatory costs, and I have cut my labor


       1      almost in half while trying to maintain sales.

       2             Crop prices have been flat for years, and it

       3      is difficult to compete with countries and states

       4      with lower production costs.

       5             With labor costs approaching 50 percent of

       6      our net farm income, we will be unable to sustain

       7      the way we farm now.

       8             Unions, I really don't have a problem with

       9      that.

      10             It's, just, because of our short harvest

      11      windows, I would like to see a no-strike clause

      12      because that would just devastate us.

      13             Mandatory day of rest is my third point.

      14             That requirement, we already tried to do

      15      that.

      16             Some days we only get half, half a day.

      17             But that should be left up to the employee so

      18      they have control over that, if they want to take

      19      the day or not, especially if we lose work to bad

      20      hours -- or, to bad weather if we lose work.

      21             Unemployment benefits.  Our employees, except

      22      for the H2A, do have the right to unemployment

      23      benefits if they qualify.

      24             Federal law prohibits H2A employees from

      25      collecting UI benefits, yet New York is the only


       1      state that forces its farmers to pay UA (sic) tax on

       2      the H2A payroll.

       3             Our UI tax a year on our farm is $60,000 a

       4      year, half of that from the H2A payroll.

       5             All our workers are covered by workers'

       6      compensation and disability insurance, and all of

       7      those coverages, combined, cost just under $100,000

       8      a year on our farm.

       9             Farming is dependent on weather and

      10      completing crop work on time.

      11             It requires flexibility with labor, our hired

      12      labor and our family labor.

      13             There are no shortcuts to produce

      14      high-quality safe food.

      15             Increasing the high-crop production costs on

      16      our state will make us even less competitive.

      17             Farmworkers will not want to come to New York

      18      state for limited work hours.  This will worsen the

      19      labor situation.

      20             The proposed legislation will hurt New York's

      21      agricultural industry, our rural communities, and

      22      cost farmworker jobs and the opportunities those

      23      jobs create for their families.

      24             Thank you.



       1             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

       2             I have a couple questions.

       3             First, thank you for your service as well.

       4             Do you have a mix of H2A workers and -- are

       5      they all H2A workers?

       6             ANTHONY EMMI:  No, ma'am.

       7             We have 25 to -- 25 H2A workers coming this

       8      year.

       9             And we have migrant workers also that have

      10      legal status.  They've been with us, those are the

      11      ones, that have been with us for over 20 years.

      12             SENATOR METZGER:  And are they paid -- I'm

      13      just wondering if they're paid -- or whether they

      14      are differences?

      15             ANTHONY EMMI:  They're paid -- because the

      16      management is so complicated on a farm, you know,

      17      stuff breaks and you got to grab people, I pay

      18      everybody the H2A rate, the highest rate.

      19             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay, very well.

      20             ANTHONY EMMI:  So there's no questions,

      21      except for our retail, which we pay the state

      22      minimum wage.

      23             SENATOR METZGER:  Uh-huh.

      24             And in terms of overtime, is there -- is

      25      there a number of hours -- do you have an


       1      alternative recommendation?

       2             ANTHONY EMMI:  Yeah, I think we could live

       3      with 60 to 65 hours.

       4             I'm just concerned because, if I got to go to

       5      40 hours just to try to survive --

       6             And we're survivors, we'll find a way around

       7      it, this will be different.  There won't be a lot of

       8      jobs.

       9             -- different type of farming, which I've

      10      already been trying for several years, green beans.

      11      You have to harvest it by machine, so it's just a

      12      one-man job.

      13             Put 100 acres of that on my farm into that.

      14             So I don't -- you know, it's just hard.

      15             It will be hard to.

      16             SENATOR MAY:  What if it were averaged over a

      17      number of months, or something like that?  Is there

      18      a --

      19             ANTHONY EMMI:  That might work, but then

      20      you're -- you're taking a chance with the weather

      21      situations, and things, you know.

      22             So I -- I just don't know.

      23             I mean, we simply don't bring in enough

      24      income to make it happen.

      25             My kids went to college, and have already


       1      left the state.  My nephews are leaving.

       2             There's just not a lot of opportunity here.

       3             And I can't -- like my daughter, I just moved

       4      her to Nashville just two weeks ago.

       5             I can't afford to pay her enough money on the

       6      farm for her to make a living.

       7             You know, so...

       8             SENATOR MAY:  Let me go back to your

       9      testimony about the day of rest.

      10             So if it were mandated that people were

      11      entitled to that, but it was optional, the question

      12      is:  How would that be enforced?

      13             Because we certainly heard from some

      14      farmworkers who did not feel that they could --

      15             ANTHONY EMMI:  Right.

      16             SENATOR MAY:  -- make demands of their

      17      employers.

      18             So, I just have that concern.

      19             You know, there are a lot of things in this

      20      law that are aimed at the bad actors --

      21             ANTHONY EMMI:  That's right.

      22             SENATOR MAY:  -- in this industry.

      23             And the question is:  How do you make

      24      something like that work?

      25             ANTHONY EMMI:  It would probably just have to


       1      be part of the inspections when the labor department

       2      comes in and wants to talk to the workers without us

       3      present.  You know, it would have to be -- that

       4      question would have to be asked.

       5             I mean --

       6             SENATOR MAY:  And how often does that happen

       7      that they come in?

       8             ANTHONY EMMI:  Oh, at least once a summer,

       9      the State comes -- the state labor department comes

      10      in.  Occasionally the federal labor department.

      11      Health department is there two or three times a

      12      summer.

      13             SENATOR RAMOS:  If we've got farmers, they're

      14      a bad actor, do you really think that there won't be

      15      any retaliation against that worker for complaining

      16      that they didn't get the day off that they asked

      17      for?

      18             ANTHONY EMMI:  I can't speak for that.

      19      I don't know.

      20             There's bad actors in all industries.

      21             There's bad actors in the military when I was

      22      in the military.

      23             And people are scared, I understand that.

      24      I fully understand that.

      25             But, laws don't stop those people.


       1             I don't know how you can stop that.

       2             I think, in our industry, you'll be out of

       3      business.  I just don't think workers will stay

       4      there.

       5             I mean, there's a shortage of labor the way

       6      it is now.

       7             We chose the H2A program.

       8             I always tell people, the H2A program is the

       9      worst business decision I ever made, but the last

      10      chance I had at putting together a labor force,

      11      because of the cost of it.

      12             I would rather hire a domestic labor force,

      13      it would be cheaper.  And maybe we could be more

      14      competitive.

      15             SENATOR RAMOS:  You know what?  You said

      16      earlier, and it's something that I have heard quite

      17      often as I've been touring farms in Wayne County and

      18      Genesee County, and as I continue to do so, where

      19      many farmers assert that farmworkers will leave if

      20      they don't like their employer.

      21             And that's much more true for H2 (sic) visa

      22      workers; right?

      23             ANTHONY EMMI:  Uh-huh.

      24             SENATOR RAMOS:  But you have to accept that

      25      there are people who are so poor and so desperate


       1      for work that they'll work for anyone.

       2             So wouldn't it be better to ensure that there

       3      is a law on the books that outlines exactly what the

       4      rules are so there's no confusion?

       5             ANTHONY EMMI:  There's a lot of laws on the

       6      books, Senators, that don't stop bad people.

       7             SENATOR RAMOS:  Sure.

       8             ANTHONY EMMI:  So you can make the law, but

       9      I don't think it will stop them.

      10             SENATOR RAMOS:  So we shouldn't have the law

      11      at all?

      12             ANTHONY EMMI:  But I don't think that --

      13      I think that's an exception with our industry.

      14             SENATOR RAMOS:  Huh.

      15             ANTHONY EMMI:  The margins aren't there.

      16             And if you're caught doing that kind of

      17      stuff, or the other employees see that, I don't

      18      think you're going to be in business very long.

      19             I really don't.

      20             There's too much of a labor shortage to do

      21      this kind of work.

      22             So...

      23             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      24             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.



       1             JOSE VEGA:  Good afternoon.

       2             SENATOR RAMOS:  Good afternoon.

       3             JOSE VEGA:  My name is Jose Vega, and I am

       4      farmworker at Emmi and Son, Incorporated.

       5             I have worked for the Emmi family for

       6      32 years.

       7             I am fortunate to have the opportunity to

       8      work as many hours I want to while I'm here during

       9      the season.

      10             The reason why I am here today is because

      11      I do not agree with the farmworker bill that is

      12      being proposed.

      13             I am also speaking for all of our employees:

      14      This bill will have a bad effect.

      15             Our wage are good, that's not a problem.

      16             Farming require a lot of work hours, and we

      17      want the hours.

      18             If the bill is passed, the farm will not be

      19      able to afford the increased costs, and will be

      20      forced to limit us to 40 hours a week.

      21             The Emmi have to do this with the retail

      22      employees and their two farm stands to remain open.

      23             I cannot make the sacrifice of missing family

      24      and family activity and supporting my family in

      25      Puerto Rico to make less money.


       1             Our employees are also not willing to make

       2      the sacrifice.

       3             Every year we fight to make more money on the

       4      produce we grow.

       5             Part of my job in the morning is to take care

       6      of the customer and serve our crop.

       7             We lost sales because people can often find

       8      cheaper produce that come in from other state.

       9             The price is the farm having the same for

      10      very long time, and the cost to grow the crops

      11      continues to increase each year.

      12             This bill would not be fair to us.

      13             He would be one affect by having less hours

      14      of work or losing our job.

      15             I see the farm income and expenses, and

      16      I know they will not be able to afford this.

      17             Farming's dependent of weather.  Time s

      18      needed to plant and harvest it when we came in our

      19      short season.

      20             The farmworker bill would cost us good wages

      21      and ability to work as many hours as we want.

      22             SENATOR RAMOS:  I have a question.

      23             In your testimony, Mr. Vega, you explained

      24      that you are speaking on -- for all of your

      25      employees?


       1             There are about 70.

       2             How many of them voted for you as their

       3      representative?

       4             JOSE VEGA:  Well, for our employees in the

       5      farm --

       6             SENATOR RAMOS:  Right.

       7             JOSE VEGA:  -- yeah, because they're not here

       8      right now.

       9             They really want to be here, but they

      10      still --

      11             SENATOR RAMOS:  No, I understand that.

      12             But my question is a little different.

      13             JOSE VEGA:  Okay.

      14             SENATOR RAMOS:  What I'm trying to ask you

      15      is, how it is that you're speaking on behalf of them

      16      all?

      17             JOSE VEGA:  Okay.

      18             One of the things is, this guy, we explaining

      19      to them about the farmworker bill, and they just

      20      said not coming here for 40 hours.

      21             SENATOR RAMOS:  But you were not elected as

      22      their representative.  Does that make sense?

      23                (Senator Ramos and Mr. Vega begin a

      24        conversation with one another in Spanish.)

      25             SENATOR RAMOS:  Okay.  Gracias.


       1             SENATOR METZGER:  Would you please translate

       2      for the group?

       3             SENATOR RAMOS:  Your answer.

       4             Can you say your answer in English, if you're

       5      able to.

       6             JOSE VEGA:  Okay.  We were talking to the --

       7      at least the six guys that's coming soon, the guys,

       8      the most older people in the farm, and I were

       9      talking to them, and they told me that I can talk

      10      for them.

      11             ANTHONY EMMI:  Pablo couldn't be here today.

      12      They're still traveling.

      13             JOSE VEGA:  They still traveling.

      14             SENATOR RAMOS:  Okay.

      15             SENATOR MAY:  All right, thank you very much.

      16             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      17             SENATOR RAMOS:  Thank you.

      18                (Mr. Emmi and Mr. Vega leave the witness

      19        table.)

      20             SENATOR MAY:  Are you Jason?

      21             JOSE CHAPA:  Jose.

      22             SENATOR MAY:  Oh, Jose.

      23             JOSE CHAPA:  Yes.

      24             SENATOR MAY:  If Jason is here and could come

      25      up, that would be great.


       1             JOSE CHAPA:  Hi, good afternoon.

       2             Thank you for having me, Senators.

       3             My name is Jose Chapa.  I'm the legislative

       4      coordinator for the Justice for Farmworker campaign

       5      in New York.  This coalition includes several

       6      organizations across the state.

       7             I wanted to start off by stating why I'm

       8      doing this kind of work.

       9             I was born in Mexico, but I moved to the

      10      United States at the age of 4 with my family.

      11             During my childhood, in the summertime, my

      12      family would travel to Iowa and Minnesota in order

      13      to work in the corn fields of these states.

      14             I would stay behind and be taken care of by a

      15      family member, or I would sometimes go to the fields

      16      and wait for them, along with my cousins and other

      17      children, in the buses that took my parents to work.

      18             During my teenaged year, I traveled to the

      19      Panhandle of Texas with my family, and there

      20      I worked in the corn fields and the cotton fields.

      21             I remember the first time I ever stepped foot

      22      in a corn field.  After a couple of hours of work,

      23      I passed out from the extreme heat and I was carried

      24      out by my father.

      25             At that time, I was working simply because,


       1      that is what I knew, and that is what we needed to

       2      do as a family, in order to have money for the rest

       3      of the year.

       4             Like most other migrant farmworkers, my

       5      family never questioned the practices that were used

       6      and implemented by the supervisors and the farm

       7      owners.

       8             This is still the case with a workforce that

       9      has been conditioned not to question authority, and

      10      abide by the rules that have been set forth by

      11      generations of oppression.

      12             I did not fully understand the systematic

      13      disadvantages farmworkers faced in the workplace

      14      until after I left college.

      15             I learned about the lack of basic rights and

      16      protections farmworkers faced compared to other

      17      workers in the country due to the long history of

      18      discrimination, based on racism.

      19             As the coordinator of this campaign, I have

      20      traveled across the state, and I have talked to a

      21      multitude of workers, allies, and farmers who indeed

      22      see a problem with the state of affairs farmworkers

      23      are subjected to.

      24             Farmworkers in New York are not only migrant

      25      farmworkers, New Yorkers, they're New Yorkers.  They


       1      are residents that have made New York their home.

       2             I have talked to farmworkers who are not able

       3      to take a day off in order to take their children to

       4      the doctor.

       5             I have talked to farmworkers who have been

       6      injured at the job and have not been properly

       7      compensated for their injury or taken to the doctor

       8      in time to get their injury checked out.

       9             I have talked to workers who work and are not

      10      paid overtime.

      11             I have talked to female workers who have been

      12      sexually assaulted in the fields, and are not

      13      comfortable nor capable of speaking out against

      14      their supervisors or other co-workers for fear of

      15      retaliation, because they're not able to have a

      16      negotiated contract with their employers which would

      17      protect them.

      18             On the flip side, we do know, and we are

      19      aware, that there are farmers that do provide some

      20      of these protections.

      21             But why shouldn't these protections extend to

      22      all employers and make this a law in order to

      23      protect all farmworkers across the state?

      24             If this law is implemented, farmworkers will

      25      finally see a transition in which they will finally


       1      be able to work with the dignity and the respect

       2      every other worker in the state is allotted and

       3      deserve, and contribute to their local economies

       4      even more so than they already do.

       5             Farmworkers deserve the dignity and respect

       6      to have the day of rest, be able to organize and

       7      negotiate a contract with their employer, get proper

       8      compensation for the amount of work they produce in

       9      order to feed New Yorkers, and all other Americans.

      10             Thank you.

      11             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      12             So we heard from the previous witness that,

      13      you pass these laws and the bad actors aren't going

      14      to observe them anyway.

      15             What's your response to that?

      16             JOSE CHAPA:  Yeah, exactly, there are going

      17      to be bad actors, and why can't there be a law that

      18      says, let's punish these bad actors in case they go

      19      out of line?

      20             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      21             SENATOR RAMOS:  Are you saying the point of

      22      law is so that there are consequences for bad

      23      actors?

      24             JOSE CHAPA:  Yes.

      25             SENATOR RAMOS:  Hmm.  Interesting.


       1             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

       2             JOSE CHAPA:  Thank you.

       3             SENATOR MAY:  We're going to change the rules

       4      a little bit.  So each...

       5             You're all from the same farm?

       6             We need to just give four minutes to each

       7      farm, so, all of you together will get four minutes.

       8      Okay?

       9             JASON TUREK:  Thank you, Senators.

      10             My name is Jason Turek, and I'm a

      11      fourth-generation vegetable farmer from

      12      Cayuga County.

      13             With me today is Leonardo Resendiz Perez; his

      14      father, Jose; and Mayolo Rivera.

      15             Our employees are like families to us, and

      16      the farm's greatest resource.  We have a core group

      17      of around 10 team members, 5 have been with the farm

      18      for over 20 years.

      19             Benefits include health insurance, paid

      20      vacation and sick days, paid holidays, and year-end

      21      bonuses.

      22             Seasonally, we hire up to another

      23      130 employees through the H2A program.

      24             Starting hourly rate is 13.25, with the

      25      opportunity to make in the low 20s on piece rate.


       1             Housing, utilities, and transportation are

       2      provided for free.

       3             The program is inspected and administered by

       4      the federal and state department of labor and the

       5      health department.

       6             Unlike our southern and western colleagues,

       7      we get one crop, three, or up to four months, of

       8      harvest to pay our bills for the rest of the year.

       9             We are not at the liberty of increasing

      10      prices to compensate for increasing costs.

      11             The customers tell us what they will pay

      12      based on supply and demand.

      13             Walk the Hunts Point or Brooklyn produce

      14      market in August and you'll find them glutted with

      15      vegetables from 10 neighboring states and Canada.

      16             There are weeks where we pick our crops at a

      17      financial loss, simply to keep the guys working.

      18             Yes, sometimes we would be better off

      19      financially, let the crops rot in the field.

      20             Personally, our farm hasn't made a positive

      21      gain in three years.

      22             And if this bill passes, as presented, we'll

      23      be forced to limit hours, switch to less

      24      labor-intensive crops, or move vegetable production

      25      to another state.


       1             The bill will have a crippling domino effect

       2      on our upstate economy.

       3             Thank you, and I'll turn it over to Leo.

       4             LEONARDO RESENDIZ PEREZ:  Hello, my name is

       5      Leonardo Resendiz.  These are my father's words:

       6             I worked 19 years at this farm.

       7             I have been in the United States since 1986,

       8      and has worked in Texas, California, Florida,

       9      Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia,

      10      West Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Connecticut,

      11      Michigan, New Jersey, and Delaware.

      12             I have a lot of experience working with other

      13      people.

      14             All of these states have the same crops they

      15      grow in New York, but none of them gave me the

      16      opportunity that I had here in Turek Farms to be

      17      with my family.

      18             I started working with Turek Farms since

      19      2000, and now I call this "home."

      20             These are the things that I would like about

      21      New York:  Every week having a paycheck.  Respected.

      22      Peaceful.  Steady work.  Kindness.

      23             Every week I'm here to work.

      24             In Florida, it was three or four days a week.

      25             Since 2000, cousins, nephews, and brothers,


       1      and friends have been coming under the H2A program.

       2      They come to work from July to December, and have

       3      gone back to Mexico to buy or build their houses, go

       4      on vacation with their families, buy transportation,

       5      move place to place.

       6             In 2002 I bought a house in Florida.

       7             If it wasn't for this job up in New York,

       8      I wouldn't be able to buy the house.

       9             This job also put my older son through

      10      Barry University of Miami, Florida.

      11             In conclusion:

      12             I understand the bill doesn't restrict

      13      40 hours, but, in the end, we know it's gonna

      14      happen.

      15             We will be very sad to leave this job.

      16             These are my friends, Mayolo (indicating).

      17             (Now reading on behalf of Mayolo Rivera.)

      18             Hello, my name is Mayolo Rivera.

      19             I have six years working with Turek Farms

      20      with H2A.

      21             I'm agreeing all of the things my friend Jose

      22      said.

      23             I'm used to working 240 hours per month.

      24      This bill would cut me to 160 hours per month, plus

      25      maybe 20 overtime hours, which equals 30.  That is


       1      190 hours.

       2             I'm 50 hours short.

       3             How will I make that up?

       4             Maybe I have to leave the state.

       5             Thank you very much.

       6             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.  Gracias.

       7             JASON TUREK:  Thank you.

       8                (The previous four speakers leave the

       9        witness table.)

      10             SENATOR MAY:  Is Bruce Krupke here?

      11             And Phil Hall, will be on deck.

      12             Is Phil Hall here?

      13             PHIL HALL:  Yes, I am.

      14             SENATOR MAY:  Okay, great.

      15             Go ahead.

      16             BRUCE W. KRUPKE:  Good afternoon,

      17      Senators May, Metzger, Senator Montgomery,

      18      Senator Ramos.

      19             My name is Bruce Krupke.  I am the executive

      20      vice president for the Northeast Dairy Foods

      21      Association which is based in North Syracuse,

      22      New York.

      23             We represent 328 dairy-product processors,

      24      manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers since

      25      1928 in New York and the northeast United States.


       1             Thank you very much for holding this hearing,

       2      and allowing me to provide some brief comments

       3      regarding proposed legislation to change farmworker

       4      labor laws in New York State.

       5             Our association is opposed to amending the

       6      current laws, which would mandate unnecessary

       7      changes for farmworkers in New York State.

       8             Simply put:  The current farm labor laws and

       9      regulations are more than sufficient.  They are

      10      working just fine, and do not need changing.

      11             Our association members are the customers of

      12      dairy farmers.  Members of our association purchase

      13      raw milk from dairy farms, process and manufacture

      14      finished dairy products, like fluid milk, yogurt,

      15      cheese, ice cream, cottage cheese, and milk powders.

      16             These products are widely distributed and

      17      sold here in New York State, across the country, and

      18      in recent years, increasingly, around the world.

      19             The dairy segment of all New York State

      20      agriculture accounts for more than 50 percent total

      21      gross value.

      22             I started working for the dairy industry in

      23      1980, and I was told then an old saying that I have

      24      observed and witnessed over the years to be very

      25      true:


       1             "The dairy industry is like a three-legged

       2      milk stool, representing the dairy farmer,

       3      processor-manufacturer, and a retailer.

       4             "When one leg is either shorter or longer

       5      than the others, it is out of balance and does not

       6      work well."

       7             The proposed farmworker-rights legislation

       8      will make the "dairy farmer" leg very unbalanced in

       9      a way which will be damaging to both the farmers,

      10      but also to the member companies our association

      11      represents.

      12             The legislation will greatly impede the

      13      dairy's farmer ability to operate.

      14             It will increase their labor costs, their

      15      profitability, and their ability in basic survival.

      16             This is our greatest concern.

      17             The reason there are so many dairy-processing

      18      and manufacturing and distribution companies in our

      19      state is because we have adequate access to the raw

      20      milk from the farms.

      21             Our northeast region is one of three major

      22      milk-producing areas of the country, of which

      23      New York State is the third largest.

      24             The proposed legislation will hurt the dairy

      25      farmers' ability to stay in business.


       1             Currently, we have a relative milk-supply

       2      equilibrium which is supported by basic

       3      supply-and-demand factors.

       4             Our members will continue to operate and do

       5      business in New York State so long as there are

       6      adequate milk supplies and business-friendly

       7      policies which do not make us less competitive.

       8             Our members sell dairy products across the

       9      country.

      10             If our finished dairy products cost more

      11      because of increased dairy farm charges, we will not

      12      be competitive with other manufacturers, ultimately,

      13      losing business, and jobs.

      14             Should we become less competitive because

      15      there is a shortage of milk supply, these companies

      16      have the ability to move to other regions of the

      17      country.

      18             I have personally witnessed this scenario

      19      happen in other states.

      20             New York is fortunate to have a strong,

      21      competitive agricultural industry.

      22             In New York State, the dairy sector alone

      23      accounts for more than 180,000 jobs.

      24             We have many advantages over other regions of

      25      the country, and the world for that matter.


       1             Our three-legged milk stool is working.

       2             We do have struggles, but have also had the

       3      opportunity to work hard and innovate an already

       4      tough state to do business.

       5             The truth is, forcing farmers to comply with

       6      new excessive, unnecessary, restrictive, and

       7      business-choking labor-laws mandates will have a

       8      devastating effect for them and those that sell

       9      their products too.

      10             It will also affect consumer prices that they

      11      pay for food, agriculture goods and products.

      12             Good-paying jobs will be at risk.

      13             We encourage you to oppose the proposed

      14      farmworker-rights legislation, and protect our

      15      agriculture industry.

      16             Continue to allow the dairy-processing and

      17      manufacturing industry to be competitive, and to

      18      keep the milk stool to be balanced and strong in the

      19      marketplace.

      20             Thank you very much for allowing me to

      21      testify today.

      22             I'd be happy to answer any questions that you

      23      may have.

      24             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      25             SENATOR METZGER:  I have just one question.


       1             Have you examined the impact on prices that

       2      this -- that the overtime pay or provisions would

       3      have?

       4             BRUCE W. KRUPKE:  No, I'm not aware of any

       5      studies that would indicate that.

       6             In general, if the cost of the product that

       7      we have to purchase from farmers goes up because

       8      their costs are going up, they do have the ability,

       9      through voluntary premiums, to ask for more money

      10      from our members.

      11             Those voluntary premiums vary, and are based

      12      on a lot of different factors.  But voluntary

      13      premiums are supplied to dairy farmers, not only in

      14      New York State, but throughout the rest of the

      15      country, and they're competitive.

      16             And should the voluntary premiums requested

      17      from the producers in New York State be higher, then

      18      our costs will be higher.

      19             Yeah.

      20             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      21             BRUCE W. KRUPKE:  Thank you.

      22             SENATOR MAY:  Phil Hall.

      23             PHIL HALL:  Go ahead.

      24             IRVIN TEMICH:  Good afternoon.

      25             My name is Irvin Temich.


       1             I have worked with Schum-Acres for 14 years.

       2             Everyone that works there does a lot of good,

       3      hard work.

       4             The Schum-Acre family has always treated me

       5      and everyone else fairly and respectfully.  It is,

       6      honestly, more like a family than just a bunch of

       7      workers.

       8             This law is not going to be good for the

       9      worker, nor the owners.

      10             I'm happy with my job here.

      11             If things change because of this law, and the

      12      owners are forced to make changes to afford the

      13      workers, then many of us just will leave.

      14             We don't want to leave, but we will go

      15      somewhere else to find a different place to work.

      16             I am speaking not only for myself; for the

      17      other workers, and for the owners who work besides

      18      us.

      19             Thank you.

      20             PHIL HALL:  Farmers in New York face a number

      21      of continuing challenges, including unpredictable

      22      weather and long working hours.

      23             For dairy farms that make up the largest

      24      proportion of the state's overall agricultural

      25      production, declining milk prices have cut revenues


       1      sharply, in some cases, threatening family

       2      business -- businesses.

       3             Tariffs, including those imposed recently on

       4      agricultural products by the nation's trading

       5      partners in response to those imposed by the federal

       6      government, have increased financial uncertainty for

       7      many farmers in New York, and nationwide.

       8             Federal policies relating to visas for

       9      migrant workers and other immigration programs have

      10      increased restrictions on such workers who play an

      11      important role in the state's agricultural

      12      workforce.

      13             Such steps may add to the challenge of

      14      planting and harvesting on a timely basis.

      15             In addition, potential changes to federal

      16      farm-aid policies and other agricultural programs

      17      may affect farmers in unpredictable ways.

      18             Still, despite these and other challenges,

      19      New York farms remain an essential part of the

      20      state, contributing to all levels of the economy

      21      through the jobs they support and the income they

      22      generate.

      23             Those are direct quotes from the agriculture

      24      and New York State report from the comptroller's

      25      office.


       1             Senator Ramos refers to a Jim Crow Era law

       2      that denies human beings parity with nearly every

       3      other worker in the state.

       4             The problem with her racially inflammatory

       5      statement is that it is simply uninformed and an

       6      ignorant opinion.

       7             Agriculture, particularly the agriculture

       8      involving livestock, always has been, and always

       9      will be, different from every other industry.

      10             That is precisely the reason that agriculture

      11      has operated under a unique set of rules.

      12             Agriculture provides the workforce of

      13      New York State with opportunities that other

      14      industries cannot provide.

      15             If a worker enters into agriculture and

      16      decides that the opportunities it provides will not

      17      satisfy their goals, then that worker has the

      18      freedom to choose another career opportunity.

      19             Government intervention is neither required

      20      nor desired.

      21             The Governor recently stated that the budget

      22      we put forward is not supported by the revenues,

      23      himself acknowledging the fact that one should have

      24      enough money to pay -- or, before one plans to pay

      25      for something.


       1             Well, unfortunately, many agricultural

       2      employees may have to find jobs in another state

       3      because, quite frankly, Senators, the budget which

       4      you planned to legislate on to us is, as our

       5      Governor said, simply not supported by revenues.

       6             Farms will be forced to make drastic changes

       7      in response to this proposed drastic change.

       8             From the language that Senator Ramos has used

       9      in promoting Bill S2837, I stand here as a farmer

      10      accused of racism and inhumane and unjust treatment

      11      of my employees, an accusation with which

      12      I disagree.

      13             While I also stand here as a New Yorker, and

      14      I accuse you, Senators, of flippant, irresponsible,

      15      and dishonest use of New York's financial resources.

      16             According to "Financial State of

      17      the States," New York is among 40 states unable to

      18      pay their bills.

      19             New York ranked 42nd, with an F grade, and

      20      the report stated that much of the State's overall

      21      debt comes from constitutionally-protected pension

      22      benefits and retiree health-care costs.

      23             The report goes on the say, that New York's

      24      financial condition is not only alarming, but also

      25      misleading, as government officials have failed to


       1      disclose significant amounts of retirement debt on

       2      the State's balance sheet.

       3             Residents and taxpayers have been presented

       4      with an unreliable and inaccurate accounting of the

       5      state's government's finances.

       6             I do not know, and will not pretend to

       7      understand, the entire scope of the state of

       8      New York's finances, but the information available

       9      to me is alarming enough.

      10             And I can honestly say that it would be

      11      impossible to run a farm, or any business, for that

      12      matter, the way that our state has been run

      13      financially.

      14             Contrary to Mr. Engman's testimony,

      15      Senators, the dairy farms of your state of all size

      16      are suffering.

      17             An economist --

      18             OFF-CAMERA SENATOR:  Thank you.

      19             PHIL HALL:  -- one said --

      20             Thank you.

      21             SENATOR MAY:  Yeah, your time is up.  Sorry.

      22             Thank you.

      23             Any questions?

      24             SENATOR RAMOS:  Nope.

      25             I'm just glad he got it out.


       1             SENATOR MAY:  And let me just make sure

       2      people understand, the pronunciation of my

       3      colleague's name, it's Senator Ramos.

       4             SENATOR RAMOS:  Thank you.

       5             PHIL HALL:  I'm sorry.

       6             SENATOR RAMOS:  That's all right.

       7             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

       8             PHIL HALL:  Thank you.

       9                (Mr. Krupke, Mr. Temich, and Mr. Hall leave

      10        the witness table.)

      11             SENATOR MAY:  Paul Baker, is the name?

      12             PAUL BAKER:  Yes.

      13             Thank you for the opportunity to address the

      14      Senators.

      15             I'd like to maybe change the tone a little

      16      bit here, and, first, let me give you a little quick

      17      background.

      18             I'm fifth-generation farming.  I was from

      19      Niagara County.  My family originated in

      20      Long Island, and, for whatever reason, we got to

      21      wanderlust and kept heading west.

      22             Most of my relatives wound up in Colorado,

      23      actually, they we want that far.

      24             My point of my story is, my family chose to

      25      be in agriculture.


       1             I don't know, some people say that if you're

       2      in agriculture, it's a curse of your father's.  You

       3      kind of inherit the bug, and you keep going --

       4                (Inaudible comment from the audience.)

       5             PAUL BAKER:  Okay.

       6             -- you kind of keep going with it.

       7             And I think it's important that we recognize

       8      that it's a choice.

       9             There's many jobs in this society that

      10      I would not want to do.  I wouldn't want to be an

      11      ironworker putting up a high-rise in New York City,

      12      but yet we need to do it.

      13             We need to be producing food in this country,

      14      and in this state.

      15             I think it's perfectly fine, and it's your

      16      duty as Senators, to investigate the conditions on

      17      the farm.

      18             I think we should change the tone, though.

      19             I'm not opposed to you having the farmworker

      20      bill.

      21             I'm opposed to not having the discussion so

      22      that we can find a workable solution so that all

      23      sides can be better off at the end of the day.

      24             For example, I think most farmers, when given

      25      the opportunity, do not oppose unionization.


       1             They recognize that their workers have a

       2      right to collectively talk and work among

       3      themselves.

       4             I think what they're very much opposed, in

       5      this particular bill, if I understand the

       6      legislation, is we do not have protection against a

       7      strike.

       8             That, I would like to see put in, and I think

       9      you wouldn't have any opposition.

      10             As it's already has been mentioned by many of

      11      my colleagues already, many of the things that

      12      you're asking for, we're already doing as a

      13      community, with workmens' (sic) comp and such.

      14             Or even paying, in my opinion, unfair

      15      unemployment insurance for our H2A workers, when

      16      they have no way of ever collecting it.

      17             And as one person said, it's -- depending on

      18      your farm, it's a sizable amount of money.

      19             So I think that needs to be looked at as we

      20      look toward a compromise.

      21             The other thing is, I think is -- we need to

      22      talk about the farmers here.

      23             There's a huge decline in the number of farms

      24      in New York State.

      25             How long can we continue to do that and still


       1      have an economic-viable second?

       2             And people can do statistics any way they

       3      want.

       4             But, farming is one of the largest economic

       5      drivers in the upstate economy.

       6             We need to continue to do support that.

       7             It's very important for not only the farmers,

       8      but the support industries around.

       9             As far as the question of being an

      10      entrepreneur, I think that's maybe one of the

      11      biggest curses that farmers have.

      12             We have always been met with a challenge.

      13             Go back to the cotton.  We came up with the

      14      ways to mechanize it.

      15             We'll continue to try to do our

      16      entrepreneurial duty and find ways to make things

      17      more efficient.

      18             But, we reach a point where we're -- and

      19      I think we're there right now, technology really

      20      isn't, in my case, like with apples, we do not have

      21      a new way to harvest apples efficiently.  So we have

      22      to -- we are dependent on having a huge amount of

      23      both people come in to pick 30 million bushels of

      24      apples in a short period of time.

      25             We've been trying, unsuccessfully,


       1      unfortunately, to go to the federal government to

       2      try to get better legislation so that there's equity

       3      amongst us all.

       4             I think most farmers in New York would feel,

       5      if we wanted to have overtime, fine.  Let's do it on

       6      a national basis.

       7             Because, our marketplace, as much as we love

       8      to be in New York, is very much a national and a

       9      global marketplace.

      10             I see my time is up, so I'll be here for

      11      questions.

      12             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you very much.

      13             And, just in response to the -- your very

      14      first thing you said, the reason we're holding a

      15      hearing here is to make sure that this conversation

      16      can happen, and that voices, all of the voices, can

      17      be heard.

      18             PAUL BAKER:  That's -- it's absolutely

      19      essential.

      20             Okay?

      21             SENATOR MAY:  I guess, yes.

      22             Thank you very much.

      23             SENATOR RAMOS:  Thank you.

      24             KIM SKELLIE:  Thank you for having us.

      25             My name is Kim Skellie.  I'm from El-Vi Farms


       1      in Newark, New York, which is in the Finger Lakes

       2      region.

       3             We have 2,000 cows and about 3400 acres we

       4      crop.

       5             We have about 30 full-time employees and

       6      20 part-time, and about 50 percent are American and

       7      50 percent are foreign-born.

       8             They work approximately 40 to 70 hours a

       9      week, and that really depends on family needs, their

      10      interests, and some farm needs.

      11             Everyone gets one to two days off a week,

      12      whether it be -- except, occasionally, during

      13      harvest season.

      14             And like many of the other farms, we do

      15      provide workers' comp.

      16             We have bonuses every month in addition to

      17      their regular paychecks.

      18             And I think, in our area, especially, but

      19      I think it's very widespread amongst a lot of the

      20      farms in the state, the labor market is short.

      21             We have learned to, through better

      22      communication, teamwork, and camaraderie, build

      23      workforces that are quite stable and long-term.

      24             And so the idea of fear and intimidation, and

      25      people feeling like they can't leave, I think that's


       1      a small slice of this pie.

       2             We are -- actually, we work to keep our

       3      employees with us, because they know there's other

       4      jobs out there.  It's easy to find another job, and

       5      there's other good businesses in our area where they

       6      could go to work if we didn't treat them with

       7      respect and pay them well.

       8             That being said, this act, the collective

       9      bargaining, I agree with what Paul said.

      10             A lot of it we'd be okay with.

      11             The strike, whether it be for crops or

      12      animals, there's animal health risks if cows don't

      13      get milked, fed, cleaned, and taken care of on a

      14      very timely, daily basis.

      15             As far as the overtime goes, that's the

      16      biggest thing we struggle with.

      17             Our labor costs per employee have gone up

      18      17 to 18 percent in the last three years anyway,

      19      with minimum wage rising, and we have two more years

      20      of that.

      21             If we changed -- if we have to go with

      22      overtime without changing anything, it would

      23      increase another 17 to 18 percent, which, for us, is

      24      $230,000.

      25             So, any business has to learn to control


       1      costs, and you would do what you can to control

       2      costs.

       3             And that's why we go the route of saying,

       4      we've got to curb people back to 40 hours a week.

       5             And then I think of, retail industries and

       6      food-service industries, where people are only

       7      working 35 to 40 hours a week.  Many of them go get

       8      second jobs elsewhere because they are not allowed

       9      to work more hours than that.

      10             And I feel that's what we would put our

      11      employees in position for.

      12             I guess the last thing I'd like to say is, if

      13      we make that change, our people would probably be

      14      reduced in pay about 25 to 33 percent, depending on

      15      how much we're able to hire more people.

      16             MATT WUNDER:  I'm Matt Wunder.  I'm also with

      17      El-Vi Farms.  I'm the assistant crop-production

      18      manager.

      19             I've been with the farm for 15 years, and

      20      I've done many things there over that time that I've

      21      really enjoyed.  Building new barns for the animals.

      22      In my current role, repairing equipment for cropping

      23      seasons.

      24             I grew up on a small family farm, and I've

      25      seen what happens when a farm can't make it in the


       1      economy.

       2             So I understand what it takes, from the

       3      farming side, to get the work done and get a job

       4      done in a timely manner.

       5             As a team member on the farm, we take pride

       6      in getting our work done, and getting it done well.

       7      And we -- sometimes we work a lot to do that.

       8             And having that ability to work, when it's

       9      there, has helped me and my family in many ways.

      10             Currently, my family budget requires -- is

      11      set up so that I need to work 40 to 45 hours a week.

      12             I choose to work 55 to 60 hours a week so

      13      that my kids can have extra, things that I didn't

      14      have.

      15             If the farm was in a situation that they had

      16      to reduce hours, I would have to look elsewhere for

      17      employment in a field I wasn't passionate about,

      18      and --

      19             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you very much.  We have

      20      to end there.

      21             But I thank you very much.

      22             I did have a couple of questions, if that's

      23      okay?

      24             SENATOR RAMOS:  Yes, go ahead.

      25             SENATOR MAY:  Mr. Skellie, I wanted to ask


       1      you, you mentioned bonuses.

       2             What are those based on?

       3             KIM SKELLIE:  At our farm, milk-quality

       4      bonuses.  So it's the quality of the milk, which is

       5      measured by the co-op.

       6             We get a bonus as a farm, and then we share

       7      it with the employees.

       8             SENATOR MAY:  I see.  Okay.

       9             KIM SKELLIE:  So -- and it ranges.  You know,

      10      for the most part, it's been in the range of $150 to

      11      $300 a month, per employee.

      12             SENATOR METZGER:  Could you -- I know dairy

      13      farming is very different from, you know, growing

      14      vegetables, in terms of the labor needs, the labor

      15      demands.

      16             And could you just describe those differences

      17      with seasonal labor?

      18             Like, I mean, I know you've said that -- you

      19      know, the hours range from 40 to 70.

      20             But that's -- you know, you've got, what's an

      21      average week in the wintertime versus -- do you grow

      22      your own feed, your own hay?

      23             So --

      24             KIM SKELLIE:  We grow --

      25             SENATOR METZGER:  -- if you could talk about,


       1      just characterize the hours.

       2             KIM SKELLIE:  -- right.

       3             So the people who work in the barn with the

       4      animals have a pretty structured week that doesn't

       5      change a whole lot throughout the year.  And those

       6      people range from 50 to 70 hours week.  And it

       7      depends on whether they have one or two days off

       8      each week.

       9             The people working the crop side, they range

      10      from 40 to 60.  And, of course -- and it may be more

      11      than 60 at times.  Matt will sometimes put in an

      12      80-hour week when you're in the heart of planting or

      13      harvest season.  So their weeks will be up and down,

      14      May, June, September, October, would be the heaviest

      15      months.

      16             Does that answer your question?

      17             SENATOR METZGER:  Yes, it does.  Thank you.

      18             SENATOR MAY:  I just have to say, you guys

      19      are like an advertisement for handsome plaid shirts.

      20                [Laughter.]

      21             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      22             KIM SKELLIE:  Thank you.

      23                (Mr. Skellie and Mr. Wunder leave the

      24        witness table.)



       1             SENATOR MAY:  Mr. Brown.

       2             JEREMY BROWN:  Good afternoon, Senators, and

       3      thank you for your travels to Upstate New York, and

       4      for the opportunity for me to share my story, and

       5      testify in regard to the Farmworkers Fair Labor

       6      Practices Act.

       7             Forgive me if I'm generalizing, but, farmers

       8      as a whole are very process-oriented and committed

       9      to our work, so we often forget to tell our story.

      10             And I feel that part of the push for a bill

      11      like this is a perception battle between what

      12      happens in some instances, and what happens as a

      13      rule.

      14             I am the dairy manager at Twin Birch Dairy in

      15      Skaneateles, New York.

      16             At the farm we have 3400 acres that we

      17      utilize to feed our heard of 1500 adult cattle.

      18             We support 25 families.

      19             And I am a non-family partner with the legacy

      20      family and another non-family partner that's one of

      21      my peers.

      22             And, I started my career in the dairy

      23      industry as a farmworker.

      24             So, about Twin Birch Dairy.

      25             We have a written mission statement which


       1      reads, "Our goal is to be an asset to our community

       2      by being stewards of our land, providing well-being

       3      for our heard, and ensuring the livelihood for

       4      employees and operators."

       5             We are an asset to our community by providing

       6      over a million dollars in payroll to people who live

       7      within five miles of the farm.

       8             We support diverse off-farm jobs, ranging

       9      from trucking jobs to get feed, fuel, milk away from

      10      the farm; sales people; professionals, such as

      11      lawyers, dairy-cow nutritionists, veterinarians, and

      12      processors.

      13             At Twin Birch we're also members of the

      14      Cayuga Marketing Group.  We're a group of 29 member

      15      farms in Central New York.

      16             In 2013 we began construction on a

      17      dairy-processing plant in which we make powdered

      18      ingredients for export around the world.

      19             There, we employ 75 people, and we have

      20      another 25 people that we employ through our milk

      21      trucking company.

      22             We continue to be asset in our community

      23      because we're able to maintain population in a rural

      24      area, and provide a tax base.

      25             We're stewards of the land.


       1             We have adopted best-management practices

       2      voluntarily before there is any push from state or

       3      local organizations to do so, and we help to

       4      contribute to the esthetics of Upstate New York.

       5             Care for the animals.

       6             Cows being -- or, cows well-being is

       7      contingent on consistent round-the-clock care and

       8      high-quality feed.

       9             That's where providing a livelihood for

      10      co-workers and employees comes into play.

      11             It's our goal to attract the best people we

      12      can get.

      13             I spend more time with my co-workers than

      14      I do with my own family.

      15             We've been able to achieve low turnover on

      16      the dairy, and, when we do have turnover, people are

      17      asking their friends, family, neighbors from home,

      18      to come and work with them at our farm.

      19             We also promote people from within so they

      20      can help to climb the ladder, and start with

      21      labor-type jobs and move into management.

      22             We offer competitive pay packages with

      23      health care, housing, utilities, paid vacation,

      24      meals, transportation, uniforms.

      25             The cost of living is much different in


       1      Upstate New York than it is in other areas of the

       2      country, and this results in a huge amount of

       3      disposable income.

       4             And that is what my employees have told me

       5      time and time again, that their number-one goal is,

       6      is to have cash in hand to support their families.

       7             Some of the harsh realities of this proposal

       8      is that we exist in a global market.  Milk is not

       9      priced solely for New York State.

      10             I believe, as the minimum wage changes, it's

      11      kind of self-correcting.  We can ride that out, but

      12      everybody needs to be on the same playing field.

      13             And when we couple that with overtime, it

      14      makes that go exponential.

      15             Thank you for your time.

      16             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      17             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you so much.

      18             DAVID RANDALL:  Good afternoon, Senators.

      19             Thank you for coming today to hear our

      20      concerns.

      21             My name is David Randall.  I'm from

      22      Co-Vale Holsteins, a fourth-generation family dairy

      23      farm.

      24             A little bit about our farm.

      25             We have nine employees on our farm.


       1             The average time our employees have been with

       2      us is for eight years, with two of them for being

       3      over twenty-five.

       4             Today I am here not to debate whether

       5      farmworkers should get overtime as much as I am

       6      concerned where the money is going to come from to

       7      pay for this.

       8             Just last January the minimum wage went up.

       9             We buy lunch every day at our local store for

      10      our employees.  The same day the minimum wage went

      11      up, the price of lunch went up over a dollar on

      12      everything.

      13             We can't do that, we can't raise our prices

      14      to offset the costs of labor.

      15             The dairy industry is in a horrible financial

      16      state.

      17             In 2018 the United States lost 2700 dairy

      18      farms.

      19             The last three years we have been running in

      20      the red.

      21             We've borrowed against assets in hopes that,

      22      in the future, the price of milk will come up.

      23             In the dairy industry, we are mandated by

      24      state legislation, such as the one you're proposing,

      25      but the federal government sets the price of our


       1      product.

       2             I don't know of any other industry in the

       3      United States that is getting the same price of

       4      their product today as they did in the 1970s.

       5             The farmer has no more to give.

       6             At the present time, if we had a farm in

       7      Pennsylvania, which is an hour south of us, where

       8      the minimum wage is 7.25, our payroll would have

       9      been at $120,000 less last year.

      10             With the proposed legislation, it would add

      11      80,000 to last year's payroll; in other words, it

      12      would cost our farm approximately 200,000 more to

      13      operate in New York State than it would in

      14      Pennsylvania, and that's not including the increase

      15      of nearly a dollar an hour starting this January.

      16             So as a businessman, how can we justify

      17      staying in New York State?

      18             Other neighboring states during the last few

      19      years have substantially subsidized the price of

      20      milk during these times to protect the family farms.

      21             Proposing legislation of this financial

      22      burden is preying on farmers' love of their land and

      23      their roots.

      24             If the purpose of this legislation is in the

      25      care of the Latino people, why hasn't there been a


       1      program to get them here legally to work on our

       2      dairy farms, and a program to get to their licenses?

       3             As far as Latino people not being treated

       4      properly, there is such a shortage of labor on dairy

       5      farms, that any farm that doesn't take the best

       6      possible care of their employees would lose them,

       7      they'd go to a neighbor's.

       8             We've never had an employee say they worked

       9      too hard or too many hours.

      10             The reason there is such a labor shortage is

      11      because we have such a broken welfare program in

      12      New York State.

      13             If someone doesn't want to work, they don't

      14      have to.

      15             But we're not here to talk about that.

      16             I'm 27 years old, and I love farming in all

      17      aspects of it.

      18             All I've ever wanted to be is a dairy farmer,

      19      and that's, my dreams have come true.

      20             But, with proposed legislation like this, my

      21      dream may come to an end.

      22             I will have -- or, at least it will come to

      23      an end in New York State, because I will keep

      24      farming, and I'll have to keep continuing to provide

      25      for my family, even if that means moving, leaving


       1      the state.

       2             I want to finish by making one last

       3      statement.

       4             Over the last few years everyone asked,

       5      "Where have all the small farms gone?

       6             Well, proposed legislation like this is what

       7      puts small farms out of business forever.

       8             This legislation would be devastating to all

       9      farms.

      10             Thank you.

      11             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      12             BRUCE GIBSON:  Good afternoon, Senators.

      13             Thank you very much for hearing us today.

      14             My name is Bruce Gibson.  I'm a partner in

      15      Locust Hill Dairy, LLC.  We're a dairy farm in

      16      Oswego and Jefferson counties.

      17             We have 50 employees.

      18             We crop -- we have really two distinct

      19      businesses, two teams.

      20             We crop about 6,000 acres, and we grow feed,

      21      primarily corn and hay, to feed our cows.  We have

      22      about 3500 cows.

      23             So I guess I'm that "big farmer" that an

      24      earlier speaker said would be just fine.

      25             And maybe that's true, I don't know, I don't


       1      know the answer to that.

       2             But I thought it was important that I come

       3      and at least tell you my story, in terms of how

       4      I think this legislation would affect my team,

       5      because my team is everything.

       6             Those 50 guys and girls are critical to our

       7      success, our mutual success.  We're joined together.

       8      They count on me as I count on them to help me help

       9      my cows.  We're caretakers as farmers.

      10             And I think, I've heard some stories today

      11      that I hope just simply aren't true.

      12             Let me move forward, though.

      13             As a big farm we have a bigger payroll, so

      14      it's sort of the same thing.  Right?

      15             Our payroll is roughly 2 1/2 million dollars,

      16      that that goes into the local economy.  And we have

      17      relationships with other businesses in the area that

      18      are really important small businesses, where we're

      19      their biggest customer.

      20             The dairy economy has been very challenging,

      21      even for big farms like ours.

      22             We kind of crept backwards in 2015 and 2016,

      23      2017.  And 2018 we took a big, big step backwards.

      24      The price of milk reached historic lows.

      25             And the point I'm driving at is how


       1      time-sensitive farming is, because, despite our crop

       2      team's best efforts, in 2017, when we were growing

       3      our feed, that we feed in 2018, essentially, we

       4      couldn't get on the fields.

       5             We couldn't get the corn planted in time, and

       6      we couldn't get it off the fields when it was at its

       7      best.

       8             So the result was a lower-quality feed

       9      product, that drove our milk production down pretty

      10      heftily, at a time when milk was historically low.

      11             We're digging our way out of that hole.  It

      12      will probably take me two years, minimum, to just

      13      recover from last year, and probably four years, if

      14      it can even happen, to get sort of back to where we

      15      were.

      16             But, this is really the farmworkers' labor

      17      bill.  It's not the farm owner's sob-story session.

      18             So, let me talk about my team.

      19             The crop guys work probably 60 hours, on

      20      average, and, basically, year-round, because, in the

      21      winter, they're tearing apart machines, putting them

      22      together.

      23             And in the spring and summer, like now

      24      they're working 80 hours, right, to get that corn in

      25      the ground in a timely fashion.


       1             And if we don't get it in that window, and we

       2      suffer, you know, next year in production, you know,

       3      it's just -- we just can't do that.

       4             On the barn side, where I spend all of my

       5      time, it is a little more structured.  Right?

       6             And so, as an earlier speaker suggested, it's

       7      a 50- to 70-hour workweek, and those extra hours are

       8      actually really important to those workers.

       9             It's really the first question anyone asks me

      10      when they come to talk about working on our farm,

      11      whether it's the crop team or the barn team:  How

      12      many hours am I going to work?

      13             We've been able to lure workers from other

      14      industries.

      15             We have a John Deere-certified mechanic that

      16      worked for an equipment dealer.

      17             He can go back there tomorrow.

      18             The reason he works for us is because, he's

      19      able to work those extra hours, and raise his

      20      family, pay his mortgage, et cetera.

      21             We have a gentleman that worked at a car

      22      dealership, he was a mechanic.  He's now a mechanic

      23      on a dairy farm.

      24             Big change for him, really, the same reason.

      25      He was able to actually earn more money.


       1             And when it comes to the barn crew, the same

       2      is true.  We're very -- they're very

       3      income-sensitive employees.

       4             I think that, if this bill existed today, and

       5      I was having to pay time and a half within the

       6      schedule that we keep, that would raise my payroll

       7      about 40,000 a month, and I can tell you that I just

       8      can't bear that cost right now.  Honestly, that just

       9      would not work.

      10             Would I try to do something else to work

      11      around that?

      12             Absolutely; and maybe it will work, maybe it

      13      won't.

      14             I couldn't promise you that everyone will go

      15      work on another farm.  That may or may not be true.

      16             In terms of collective bargaining, though,

      17      I think that's great.

      18             If my farm employees feel that they have a

      19      need to organize, then I have failed as a farmer.

      20             If they don't take a day off, I make them

      21      take a day off.  I think that's critical.

      22             But, the overtime legislation I think could

      23      put things at risk.

      24             I'd like to tell a story about a farmworker,

      25      if I could just have 30 more seconds.


       1             I have a farmworker that works for me, her

       2      name is Gladys, and she works alongside her three

       3      brothers.

       4             And, together, their income is,

       5      approximately, oh, probably somewhere north of

       6      $160,000, combined, as a family.

       7             And this is in a county where the individual

       8      average is about $24,000.

       9             They pay their costs to live, and they send

      10      money home.

      11             They hail from San Marcos, Guatemala, where

      12      their family is actually building a farm of their

      13      own.

      14             On the work that they're doing in our

      15      operation, they're building a coffee operation that

      16      now extends into the hundreds of acres, hopefully,

      17      changing the dynamic of their family for future

      18      generations.

      19             That's all I have today.

      20             Thank you very much.

      21             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      22             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      23             MATT IGOE:  Hi.  My name is Matt Igoe, and

      24      I work for a large poultry farm.

      25             My wife owns a vegetable and fruit farm.


       1             And I'm also on the board of directors for a

       2      local growers' association.

       3             So I have different hats.

       4             I've submitted testimony, I'll just read from

       5      that.

       6             So the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

       7      created protections for a majority of American

       8      workers; however, in a historic wrong, farmworkers

       9      were excluded.

      10             That exclusion by the FLSA needs to be

      11      corrected.  All workers should be treated equally.

      12             The question is, is how do we get there?

      13             In the 80 years since its signing, a

      14      trillion-dollar food economy has grown up around the

      15      rules and regulations set forth in the FLSA.

      16             Every American alive today makes food choices

      17      and has expectations about price that are built upon

      18      that law, and it's not just products made in the

      19      USA.  Countries who export to America build their

      20      own food-production systems based upon market

      21      realities in America.

      22             You know, I'm from the Hudson Valley.

      23      I couldn't make it next week, so that's why I'm

      24      here, but I'll tell you about where we are.

      25             Where I live and work and grow food, I can


       1      speak to the devastating impact the Farmworker (sic)

       2      Fair Labor Practices Act would have if it passed in

       3      its current form.

       4             In a region where 40 percent of the farms are

       5      unprofitable, the sudden increase in wages would

       6      force farmers to cut worker hours, take on more

       7      workload themselves, discourage continuity in

       8      farming by forcing families to sell farms and exit

       9      agriculture economy entirely, increase the pace of

      10      mechanization, and negatively impact climate change

      11      by decreasing the number of small, diversified

      12      farms.

      13             The only winners here would be the big giant

      14      corporations who can absorb labor costs that small,

      15      midsize, farmers cannot.

      16             We're talking about billion-dollar farms out

      17      there.  There's about a dozen of them.

      18             They would limit the -- further cause -- I'm

      19      sorry -- causing further consolidation in our food

      20      production, and limiting healthy local food choices

      21      for New Yorkers.

      22             While states like California have three

      23      growing seasons to make a profit, New York just has

      24      a single growing season which, in effect, triples

      25      the risk of farming.


       1             One late frost or an overly rainy summer is

       2      enough to ruin a crop and, with it, that year's

       3      earnings.

       4             It's also important to remember that small

       5      and midsize farmers must sell their products to

       6      local consumers and businesses, but those same local

       7      consumers and businesses can buy from anywhere with

       8      lower labor costs, which include neighboring states

       9      like Pennsylvania, but also countries like Mexico,

      10      Thailand, and China.

      11             We would, literally, be priced out of the

      12      market -- of the New York markets where we were

      13      instrumental in creating.

      14             The best way to address the issue is a

      15      comprehensive bill at the federal level, a bill that

      16      addresses both inequalities of the past and the

      17      viability of small and midsize farms in the futures.

      18             If New York decides against that route and,

      19      instead, pushes ahead with the state bill that would

      20      New York farmers at a disadvantage, selling against

      21      producers with lower labor costs, the only just

      22      implementation, and its direct financial support for

      23      New York farmers, is a long-term phase-in to give

      24      employers time to absorb the costs of labor

      25      increases so that New York farms and farm jobs may


       1      be preserved.

       2             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

       3             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

       4             SENATOR MAY:  Can you suggest details of what

       5      that phase-in would look like?

       6             MATT IGOE:  Seven to ten years would be good.

       7             I think California did seven -- five, six,

       8      seven years on theirs.

       9             SENATOR MAY:  I think they delayed

      10      implementation for several years, and then there's a

      11      phase-in after that.

      12             MATT IGOE:  Yeah, exactly, something like

      13      that.

      14             And, also, you know, the costs are going to

      15      be a heavy burden on farmers, as we've heard here

      16      today.

      17             And if there was a form of credit that we

      18      could look at for farmers, that would be helpful

      19      too.

      20             SENATOR MAY:  For example, a credit for

      21      housing -- providing housing and --

      22             MATT IGOE:  Providing housing, but also

      23      dollar-for-dollar offsets on the cost of the raising

      24      of the labor costs, at least in the beginning of the

      25      program, to offset the costs.


       1             SENATOR MAY:  Okay.  Thank you.

       2             MATT IGOE:  Sure.  Thanks.

       3             MEGHAN HAUSER:  Hello.  I'm Megan Hauser.

       4      I'm a co-owner of Table Rock Farm.

       5             Table Rock is a dairy in Western New York,

       6      and we've been in operation since 1915.

       7             Our farm is successful because of the

       8      talented, thoughtful, highly-skilled employees we

       9      have.

      10             Our 35 employees range in service -- they

      11      come from a 45-minute radius of our farm, and they

      12      range in service from 1 year to 45 years of

      13      employment.

      14             Each of our team members works hard to make

      15      our farm a success, and I believe it's important to

      16      reward this dedication with appropriate wages and

      17      benefits.

      18             Every new Table Rock employee begins with an

      19      hourly wage well above New York State's minimum

      20      wage.

      21             Our job benefits include paid training, paid

      22      personal time off.

      23             Our farm overtime rate, which happens after

      24      55 hours worked weekly, this is a benefit we've

      25      offered since the 1970s.


       1             Our typical workweek is 50 to 55 hours, but

       2      when a crop must be planted or harvested, overtime

       3      is required to do the job right.

       4             We pay double time on six major holidays.

       5             We recognize that employees are missing

       6      important family time to keep Table Rock going.

       7             We pay time and a half when someone gets

       8      called in with less than 24 hours notice.

       9             We have a retirement plan.

      10             We have long-term disability coverage,

      11      monthly payments towards health insurance, weekly

      12      time off from work, paid continuing education,

      13      scholarships for the children of our employees.

      14             We have (indiscernible) raised on the farm.

      15             We have monthly gas cards and pizza parties

      16      for meeting our goals.

      17             And we have key decision-making roles in

      18      monthly and annual meetings for our employees.

      19             People in their first job at our farm receive

      20      a mentor, a formal training program, and

      21      understanding of what a "job" is, and what's

      22      expected in a job, and that feeling of camaraderie

      23      and self-worth that you get from working with a

      24      talented team.

      25             We offer these benefits because it's


       1      important to reward good work, and to be an employer

       2      of choice, and to attract the right people.

       3             I understand and agree with your desire to

       4      ensure employees receive fair wages and benefits and

       5      have safe working conditions.

       6             The farmer colleagues that I know agree with

       7      that too.

       8             However, I am concerned that the proposed

       9      well-intentioned changes are a threat to the

      10      viability of farming in New York State.

      11             New York employers already face hurdles that

      12      employers in other states do not.

      13             Our minimum wage is higher than our

      14      neighboring states, and ranks in the top five

      15      nationally.  This hourly wage, in turn, affects our

      16      employment taxes and our workers' compensation

      17      expenses.

      18             New York State's environmental standards are

      19      higher than in many other states.

      20             We're in favor of strong environmental

      21      regulations, but this is a competitive disadvantage

      22      for farmers in New York.

      23             And we have a labor shortage.

      24             I think many of the concerns raised in this

      25      proposed legislation are going to take care of


       1      themselves as talented employees become scarcer and

       2      scarcer.

       3             As you've heard, we're in the middle of a

       4      multi-year downturn for our farm's profitability,

       5      and for farms throughout New York State.

       6             We've given raises to our team members in

       7      each of the previous years, not because we can

       8      afford to, but because they've earned it.

       9             Costs continue to rise to run a farm, but the

      10      cost to have a home and to maintain a family have

      11      also increased.

      12             I've not paid myself this year so we can

      13      continue to give our teams the raises and the

      14      benefits they deserve to earn.

      15             Should changes, like overtime after 40 hours,

      16      become mandatory, I calculate my labor costs would

      17      increase about 15 percent just to cover the

      18      over-term -- overtime wages.

      19             With current farming conditions, I would have

      20      to strongly evaluate whether I can continue to

      21      dairy, and many of my farming colleagues would have

      22      to do the same.

      23             There are 35 families that count on jobs at

      24      Table Rock.

      25             Their earnings impact our local communities,


       1      both economically, when an employee saves up to buy

       2      a home and/or a vehicle, and, socially, when they

       3      coach our Little League teams or volunteer to serve

       4      at our cooperative extension.

       5             Employment on farms gives young, talented

       6      people a reason to settle and to stay in our rural

       7      communities.

       8             In summary:

       9             I have an exceptional team, and I want to be

      10      an exceptional employer.

      11             These proposed changes, such as overtime

      12      after 40 hours, and the existing minimum wage, will

      13      make New York State exceptional, but in a way that

      14      harms New York State employers and discourages

      15      farming in rural communities in New York State.

      16             Thank you.

      17             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      18             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      19             SENATOR MAY:  Let me just ask one question,

      20      because we've heard from you and a number of other

      21      farmers who take pride in the way you treat your

      22      employees.

      23             And I'm just wondering, wouldn't it be

      24      advantageous to you if all the farmers were required

      25      to treat their employees that same way?


       1             I'm just feeling, like, are you at a

       2      competitive disadvantage by virtue of trying to do

       3      the right thing?

       4             MEGHAN HAUSER:  I don't feel we're at a

       5      disadvantage.

       6             I feel the only way to employ the kind of

       7      people we want to employ with those kind of talents

       8      and abilities is to be an employer of choice.

       9             And there's such -- I think there's such a

      10      labor shortage in New York State, we have to do

      11      those things in order to make people say, Table Rock

      12      is where I want to be.

      13             SENATOR METZGER:  How big is your herd?

      14             I'm just trying to get a sense of the size of

      15      your farm.

      16             MEGHAN HAUSER:  We're milking about

      17      1150 cows.

      18             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay, so you're big, a big

      19      operation.

      20             MEGHAN HAUSER:  It's all relative.

      21             SENATOR METZGER:  Yeah, true, for New York.

      22             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  (Inaudible.)

      23             MEGHAN HAUSER:  Okay, sure.

      24             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  One of the other

      25      witnesses talked about dry cows.


       1             MEGHAN HAUSER:  Uh-huh.

       2             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  What does that mean?

       3             MEGHAN HAUSER:  Oh, sure.

       4             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  I'm sorry, I don't --

       5             MEGHAN HAUSER:  That's -- I'm glad you asked

       6      the question.

       7             So there's a time when cows aren't milking,

       8      just before they give birth, and that's what we call

       9      "dry cows."

      10             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  I see.

      11             MEGHAN HAUSER:  There's many farmeries' words

      12      that we use, so it's good to ask.

      13             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Oh, okay.

      14             So everybody else is being milked, except

      15      those?

      16             MEGHAN HAUSER:  Yes, yeah.

      17             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Okay.  Thank you.

      18             MEGHAN HAUSER:  Okay.

      19             Anything else?

      20             Okay.

      21             Thanks.

      22             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      23             SAMANTHA DeRISO:  I'll try to keep it brief.

      24             Thank you, Senator May, Senator Metzger,

      25      Senator Montgomery, and Senator Ramos, for shedding


       1      light on the plight of workers in New York State,

       2      and for the opportunity to present testimony in

       3      support of passage and enactment of the

       4      Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act.

       5             My name is Samantha DeRiso.  I am the

       6      president of the Central New York Labor Council, and

       7      the Central New York Labor Council represents

       8      17,000 members in Central New York, and it's the

       9      affiliate of the New York State AFL-CIO.

      10             I am a 30-year member of the United Food and

      11      Commercial Workers Union in Oriskany, New York, and

      12      I am also a native of Upstate New York.

      13             The Central New York Labor Council and the

      14      New York State AFL-CIO have advocated on behalf of

      15      farmworkers for decades.

      16             We have proudly supported the

      17      Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act since its

      18      introduction in 1999.

      19             In 20 years since, there has been no

      20      meaningful, substantive improvements for farmworkers

      21      in the state.

      22             Now it is the time to pass the bill of

      23      Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act.

      24             Many New Yorkers would be astounded to learn

      25      that we already know farmworkers do not enjoy the


       1      same rights as other workers.

       2             Farmworkers do not have the right to overtime

       3      pay or the day of rest.

       4             They do not have the same rights as other

       5      workers when it comes to workers' compensation,

       6      temporary disability insurance, and minimum wage.

       7             Further, farmworkers do not have the right to

       8      form a union.

       9             Farmworkers are uniquely susceptible to

      10      exploitation.

      11             Agricultural workers in New York State are

      12      often immigrants.  Many do not speak English, and

      13      many live on farms where they work, receiving room

      14      and board from their employers.

      15             These farms are located in secluded rural

      16      areas, and the fact that many farmworkers do not

      17      have driver's license or access to cars only

      18      exaggerates -- exacerbates the level of isolation.

      19             Farmworkers with temporary work visas are

      20      particularly vulnerable because their visas are

      21      revoked when they stop working.

      22             All of these factors give employers great

      23      leverage over farmworkers.

      24             Because of this leverage, and out of fear of

      25      retaliation, farmworkers often do not exercise the


       1      meager rights they currently have.

       2             Enacting the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices

       3      Act will be -- will help to correct the power

       4      imbalance, and ensure that the farmworkers are

       5      treated like other workers in the state.

       6             I would like to just take a moment to talk

       7      about Patrice, a farmworker from Western New York.

       8             Patrice could not be here today, but I have

       9      been asked to read a short note from her.

      10             "My name is Patrice, and I am an agricultural

      11      worker.

      12             "I work year-round in all seasons, cold

      13      weather, sun, and snow.

      14             "It is very hard for that" -- "very hard work

      15      that requires a lot of strength.

      16             "Who said that had a woman could not do it?

      17             "Of course we can.

      18             "I could -- "I would like the law to pass so

      19      that we have the benefits that we are excluded from.

      20             "The law would help all the workers in the

      21      field, and help them not to experience so much

      22      injustice."

      23             I know I have one minute.

      24             "For example, the wage-theft, many workers

      25      are afraid to speak and suffer reprisal.


       1             "It is necessary to have a day of rest, and

       2      collective bargaining rights, because we are human

       3      beings, and it is necessary in order to perform more

       4      work in the workplace.

       5             "Many workers have to work in the rain and

       6      the cold.

       7             "There are farmer" -- "farm owners who give

       8      farmworkers a home at their place, and are

       9      mistreated because of it.

      10             "Thank God for the farmer that I work for

      11      now.  He gives us a day of rest.  He gives us

      12      permission to leave work when we do need, due to

      13      emergencies.  He even has paid us a week's vacation.

      14             "I would like all farmers to be like this.

      15             "I would like all the laws that protect us.

      16             "I want farmers to look at us as human

      17      beings."

      18             I'll yield my time.

      19             Thank you.

      20             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      21             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      22             BRET J. BOSSARD:  Good afternoon, Senators.

      23             My name is Brett Bossard.

      24             I'm here today as a proud fourth-generation

      25      dairy farmer from Fabius, New York, just a half an


       1      hour from here.

       2             SENATOR MAY:  Ms. DeRiso, can we make sure to

       3      get your written testimony?

       4             SAMANTHA DeRISO:  Yes, I will make sure

       5      (inaudible).

       6             SENATOR MAY:  Okay.  Thank you.

       7             Sorry.

       8             BRET J. BOSSARD:  Again, my name is

       9      Brett Bossard, and I'm a proud fourth-generation

      10      dairy farmer from Fabius, New York, just a half an

      11      hour from here.

      12             I am one of three owners, and along

      13      with 40 additional employees, we operate

      14      Barbland Dairy, LLC.

      15             Personally, I am lucky to be able to say that

      16      I truly love what I do each and every day, and

      17      I hope that my employees can say the same.

      18             I'm going to skip around a bit here, just to

      19      get some of the key points brought up, and to have

      20      time for questions.

      21             But, I'm here today, not as a way of saying

      22      that your basis for fair standards for farmworkers

      23      is not without merit, but, hopefully, as a way to

      24      demonstrate that the agricultural community is much

      25      better positioned when it comes to worker needs than


       1      you may have previously thought.

       2             And, more importantly, I'm here today to help

       3      ensure that my two young girls will have the chance

       4      to be fifth-generation dairy farmers.

       5             I feel that the overtime is the greatest

       6      challenge in your bill.

       7             For my personal farm, our weekly payroll

       8      hovers consistently, around the years, at $30,000.

       9             So doing the math on last year's hours

      10      worked, it would, mandatory time and a half be on

      11      40 hours, calculates to be $894,000.

      12             This is a 61 percent increase in our labor

      13      costs.

      14             I would be more than I'm willing to share the

      15      details of how I got to those numbers, but, with

      16      workmen's comp, and everything else that goes into

      17      it, is where the numbers that I came up with.

      18             This is absolutely unsustainable for our

      19      business and will force us into some very difficult

      20      decisions as the future of our business.

      21             Already part of our strategic 10-year plan on

      22      the farm is looking at locations out of state for

      23      these very reasons.

      24             The average hourly cash wage on our farm

      25      currently of our 40 employees is $15.09.


       1             That does not include the week's paid

       2      vacation for all employees that have been there over

       3      a year, and along with the other perks and benefits

       4      that we provide to our employees as well.

       5             If working conditions were so terrible that

       6      we have heard by many earlier today, then I would

       7      ask you:  How are several dairy farmers, and I feel,

       8      the majority, not the minority, of dairy farmers,

       9      are able to possess such a tenure by their

      10      farmworkers?

      11             I really feel that we are blessed to have

      12      18 percent of our staff that have been with us for

      13      over 15 years.

      14             80 percent of our staff has been with us for

      15      over 5 years.

      16             And it is, the Spanish-speaking workers that

      17      we have makes up approximately 50 percent of our

      18      workforce, and that continues to grow as our

      19      business has doubled in size over the last

      20      seven years.

      21             One of the great parts of my job is the

      22      ability to see people grow.

      23             And I'm here today with one of our great

      24      assets on the farm, Lupa, which I will give a few

      25      minutes to speak as well.


       1             He is in charge of the care of our cows every

       2      day.

       3             SENATOR MAY:  Just one minute left, so --

       4             BRET J. BOSSARD:  Yep, certainly.

       5             I will turn it over to him at this time.

       6             LUPAREO PEREZ-CARBAJAL:  Hi.

       7             My name is Lupareo Perez-Carbajal.  I'm

       8      grateful to work in Barbland Farm for 22 years.

       9             I was -- I just want to let something -- let

      10      you guys know, without disrespecting anybody, but

      11      I think all the dairy farmers, they never make

      12      anybody work more than what they want to.

      13             I know, I have a lot of friends, and I don't

      14      know if it's a good or bad thing, but every time

      15      they call me, if I know of a job somewhere else,

      16      they all, the first thing they ask is, "How many

      17      hours?"

      18             And the reason why we want to work so many

      19      hours is because we make promise back home, that

      20      we're going to come back with money, and give our

      21      kids what we can't give them over there, because

      22      our -- our pay over there, it's $7 a day for

      23      12 hours of work.

      24             So when we come here, you know, it's

      25      something that we don't want to just waste our time


       1      just doing things that we're not supposed to.

       2             So when we come here, we try to get the best

       3      that we can.

       4             Thank you.

       5             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

       6             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

       7                [Applause.]

       8                (Mr. Bossard and Mr. Perez-Carbajal leave

       9        the witness table.)

      10             SENATOR MAY:  Paul.

      11             PAUL FOUTS:  Thank you for the opportunity to

      12      come.

      13             I'm going to read an abridged version of what

      14      my written testimony was, and, hopefully, I can

      15      answer some questions after.

      16             My name is Paul Fouts.

      17             I'm the third generation to operate my

      18      family's dairy farm located in the northeast corner

      19      of Tompkins County.

      20             Our farm has seven full-time and two

      21      part-time employees, half of which are domestic,

      22      half are foreign-born, and I work alongside them

      23      each and every day, and I have the hands to prove

      24      it.

      25             There's no job that I ask them to do that


       1      I have not done or am not willing to do myself.

       2             I value their contributions to our farm in

       3      many respects.  They are like family to me.

       4             I am taking the time on this beautiful sunny

       5      day during the busiest part of a farmer's year to

       6      testify about the proposed legislation because the

       7      impact of its enactment, combined with the ongoing

       8      increase in minimum wage, terrifies me.

       9             I am terrified that I will lose my labor

      10      force because I can no longer afford them, and

      11      will be stripped of the flexibility to pursue

      12      arrangements that are favorable for both of us.

      13             I am terrified that my smaller neighbor farm

      14      will not be a able to afford the unemployment,

      15      disability, insurance that will be required for the

      16      small amount labor he has.

      17             I am terrified that having mom, dad, son, or

      18      daughter become an employee will no longer be an

      19      option in the generational transfer process.

      20             I am terrified that our support businesses

      21      will not be able to cope with the impacts that will

      22      come to them, both directly and indirectly.

      23             I am terrified that our communities that we

      24      have called "home" for generations, and whose

      25      economic backbone is agriculture, will become ghost


       1      towns when the equipment dealers, feed mills,

       2      processing plants, and a plethora of other

       3      agricultural businesses shutter their doors.

       4             I am terrified that colleges, such as CALS at

       5      Cornell, SUNY Morrisville, SUNY Cobleskill,

       6      SUNY Alfred, will be irrelevant because agriculture

       7      will no longer be a viable business in New York, as

       8      evidenced by the report released by Farm Credit.

       9             I have heard labor practices in agriculture

      10      described by some as draconian.

      11             To the outsider who is used to an

      12      employer-employee relation being adversarial,

      13      I suppose it would be easier to have this -- be easy

      14      to have this misguided viewpoint.

      15             But our relationship with our employees is

      16      better described as being cooperative in nature.

      17             We make every attempt to have our employees

      18      schedule a method of remuneration compatible with

      19      their individual needs while staying within the

      20      realities of our business.

      21             Since many of our employees have been at our

      22      farm for multiple years, I am confident our labor

      23      practices meet their satisfaction.

      24             I am confident enough, that I invited

      25      Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton to meet with our


       1      workers, without my presence, to discuss their

       2      opinions of the proposed legislation.

       3             To her credit, she accepted the invitation,

       4      and on April 18th she met with our employees while

       5      I milked cows.

       6             I implore each of you to ask her about the

       7      conversation because, the deal was, what was said in

       8      the room stays in the room, so I don't know what

       9      they said.

      10             The most sustainable way to provide an

      11      abundant supply of safe, affordable nutrition to our

      12      population is to grow it and produce it locally.

      13             The scope of impact of the Farmworker (sic)

      14      Fair Labor Practices Act extends far beyond large

      15      farms.  It touches every corner of the agricultural

      16      community in New York, and by ignoring natural and

      17      economic realities of agriculture threatens its

      18      existence.

      19             How can you assure the residents of New York,

      20      your constituents, the food and fiber they need

      21      while simultaneously strangling the very industry

      22      that provides it?

      23             And if I have some more time, I'd like to

      24      clarify some things that were said earlier.

      25             One is that, there is a program called


       1      FARM program, that David Fisher touched on.  And

       2      they are coming out with a module on that, where we

       3      have to meet certain standards for labor practices.

       4             And that is driven by the market, which is

       5      where it should be driven from, because then maybe

       6      we can see some returns for that.

       7             And I've heard several times that this --

       8      that New York is number-three dairy state.

       9             We are number four, because we are losing

      10      farms.

      11             We didn't get overrun by another state.  We

      12      lost it.

      13             And don't -- just because we have agriculture

      14      here today, do not assume it will be here tomorrow.

      15             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      16                [Applause.]

      17             SENATOR MAY:  Let me ask a question, because

      18      you framed this in the things that you're afraid of.

      19             I've visited a number of dairy farms, and,

      20      frankly, the machinery that people use for milking

      21      the cows terrified me.

      22             And I just found myself wondering, if you had

      23      been working for 13 hours in a day, doesn't the

      24      likelihood of accidents and, you know, danger, and

      25      fear, enter in as you work -- get more and more


       1      tired?

       2             I just am curious about how that --

       3      obviously, you care about the welfare of your

       4      workers.

       5             How do you factor that?

       6             PAUL FOUTS:  We have -- and I explained some

       7      of the evolution in my written testimony.

       8             We work 12-hours shifts.

       9             My employees work 12-hour shifts.

      10             And we do give them breaks throughout that,

      11      for lunch, and, you know, to try to give them a rest

      12      from that.

      13             We give them the 12-hour shifts because

      14      that's what they wanted.  Both domestic and foreign

      15      labor wanted the 12-hour shifts, and I explained the

      16      reasons for that.

      17             So our domestic people work, it's a

      18      50-hours -- 48-hour workweek, really.  And our

      19      foreign-born are 60.  We do pay overtime above that.

      20             And, as a comparison, I work over 100.

      21             So, I see all the shifts.

      22             And so I know that you can work 100 hours and

      23      not drop dead.  You can work over 100 hours and not

      24      get hurt.

      25             You have to be talented and focused on what


       1      you do.

       2             SENATOR MAY:  Okay.  Thank you.

       3                (Discussion among the Senators.)

       4             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you very much.

       5             JEREMY MAPSTONE:  Good afternoon, Senators,

       6      and thank you again for giving us all this

       7      opportunity to discuss the Farmworker (sic) Fair

       8      Labor Practices Act.

       9             My name is Jeremy Mapstone, and I'm a

      10      third-generation farmer from Manlius, New York.

      11             We have a 300-cow organic dairy farm that was

      12      started in 1944 by my grandfather.

      13             He convinced his parents to move out to the

      14      country because he knew, at age 16, that he wanted

      15      to be a farmer.

      16             Sometimes I think back on what I knew at the

      17      age of 16, and it's amazing.

      18             But he -- and then after that, he came to

      19      SUNY Morrisville, and then he actually learned how

      20      to be a farmer.

      21             So, 2019 marks 75 years of us shipping milk

      22      at our location.

      23             So, fast-forward to today:

      24             We employ six full-time workers, and,

      25      seasonally, may add up to five or six more.


       1             Our normal workweek is a 5 1/2-day workweek.

       2             We provide -- as many of our other, you know,

       3      farmers have stated, we provide paid vacation,

       4      transportation, housing, you know, many benefits,

       5      that we're happy to provide.

       6             We take care of our employees.

       7             They take great care of us, so we feel it is

       8      our responsibility to do the same.

       9             I recognize the difficulties in trying to

      10      take into account everybody's, you know, point of

      11      view on this issue.

      12             And, again, very much appreciate this

      13      opportunity for people on both sides of the issue

      14      to, you know, try and, maybe, reach a comfortable

      15      middle ground, compromise of sorts.

      16             I think my main concern would be the overtime

      17      provision.

      18             Our current labor costs makes up 20 percent

      19      of our yearly budget.

      20             And as the bill is -- if it were to pass as

      21      it is stated now, our labor costs would become

      22      30 percent of our yearly budgets, and about an

      23      $85,000 increase off of our bottom line.

      24             Again, as some of our other farmers have

      25      previously stated, you know, we really don't have


       1      any opportunity to make up that increase.

       2             So that's certainly -- certainly scary.

       3             I won't repeat many of the same things that

       4      everybody else has already said.  I understand, you

       5      know, we've been here a while and we're trying to

       6      get out.

       7             So, a couple different things.

       8             The USDA agriculture census just came out a

       9      few weeks ago, and a couple disturbing trends.

      10             You know, as a young farmer, I'm 25 years

      11      old, 8 percent of us are made up of farmers that are

      12      less than 35 years of age.

      13             That, to me is a problem.

      14             You know, I don't know what the answer is,

      15      but -- and, again, I, you know, commend you guys

      16      for, you know, trying to look out for our industry,

      17      and giving us an opportunity to share, you know,

      18      some of our stories and some of our concerns.

      19             But, again, 8 percent, you know, of people

      20      that are young farmers, clearly, there's not young

      21      producers getting into this industry.

      22             That's a problem.

      23             Going along with that, I mean, people have

      24      said 2100 farms, you know, going out of business.

      25             I heard some of the previous people say,


       1      well, you know, farmers are, you know,

       2      entrepreneurs.  They will figure it out.

       3             And maybe that's true.

       4             But -- you know, and, also, in the same vein,

       5      you know, well, they're not out of business yet.

       6      You know, they claimed before they would be out of

       7      business.

       8             But, you know, most of us are used to doing

       9      more with less, you know, but at what point, you

      10      know, does it start to go in the other direction?

      11             You know, 2100 farm in the last five years,

      12      that seems a little disturbing to me.

      13             So, I just worry that, you know, at some

      14      point, you know, it's going to tip too far in the

      15      wrong direction.

      16             So, I know I'm running low on time here, so

      17      I'll wrap it up there, but...

      18             Thank you again.

      19             SENATOR METZGER:  Thanks very much.

      20             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you very much.

      21             I just want to thank everybody who has stayed

      22      around.

      23             We have four more witnesses on our list, so

      24      we're closing in on the end of this.



       1             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  I appreciate your

       2      pointing out the age problem.

       3             First of all, 57 is not old, just so you

       4      know.

       5             JEREMY MAPSTONE:  That's -- you're right.

       6             I didn't mean to imply that.

       7             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Okay.

       8             And -- but the other part of what you said

       9      is, one thing I think is extremely important, is

      10      that we really need to invest a lot more, even than

      11      we already do, and we do, in the future farmers of

      12      America, because -- and I think not just young

      13      people who grow up in certain areas, but who grow up

      14      throughout the state --

      15             JEREMY MAPSTONE:  I agree with that.

      16             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  -- should be encouraged

      17      to become active in terms of farming and

      18      agriculture, and understanding and viewing that as a

      19      viable industry and career.

      20             JEREMY MAPSTONE:  I agree with that.

      21             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Thank you for raising

      22      that.

      23             JEREMY MAPSTONE:  I appreciate that very

      24      much.

      25             SENATOR MAY:  We also have a Young Farmer


       1      Apprenticeship Program bill that we're hoping to

       2      move forward too.

       3             JEREMY MAPSTONE:  Looking forward to seeing

       4      that.

       5             SENATOR MAY:  So trying to encourage more

       6      young people to go into farming.

       7             JEREMY MAPSTONE:  Appreciate it.  Thank you.

       8             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you so much.

       9             MARK RUSSELL:  Good afternoon.

      10             SENATOR METZGER:  Mark?

      11             MARK RUSSELL:  Yes.

      12             Ready?

      13             Mark Russell.

      14             Senator May, Senator Metzger,

      15      Senator Montgomery, thank you for having this

      16      meeting, and thanks for staying till the end.

      17             You know, this is a very 0long meeting.

      18             My name is Mark Russell.  I'm an apple grower

      19      in Niagara County; Appleton, in Niagara County.

      20             I'm a medium-size operator, grow on 50 acres

      21      with my wife in partnership.

      22             And, currently working in a succession plan

      23      to buy the farm with my parents.

      24             It's not really going well.  It's going to be

      25      very expensive for us.


       1             And so a bill like this makes me wonder if

       2      I should finish that succession plan, or not.

       3             We -- well, we may be able to find other

       4      opportunities in other states, but we can't take the

       5      farm that I own already with my wife.  Those trees

       6      have roots, they're stuck in the ground, they can't

       7      go across the state lines.

       8             And we have roots here too as well, as do the

       9      other growers in Western New York.

      10             I won't speak for them.

      11             But, our harvest crews do not.

      12             They are -- they have a choice of where to

      13      work, and they are going to work where they can

      14      maximize their hours, maximize their earning power.

      15             A 40-hour workweek is a wonderful thing, nice

      16      work if you can get it, but, it doesn't amend itself

      17      to produce agriculture, which is what I'm in, you

      18      know, what you find on the store shelves in a

      19      grocery store.

      20             Our work is too immediate, too acute, too

      21      intense at various times of the year, to be

      22      conscripted into a discreet 40-hour workweek.

      23             We come up with a similar 2,000-hour work

      24      year, but we kind of turn the farming on its head,

      25      because we work a 50-hour week, as an average, over


       1      40 weeks.  And that gives you 12 weeks vacation.

       2             Now, my guys like that 12 weeks vacation.

       3             They also like, since they came so far up

       4      here to work, and they come from Mexico and the

       5      Caribbean, they didn't come up here to sit at home

       6      on Saturday.  They came up to work, they came up to

       7      punch the clock.

       8             And they like doing that, and I guess I do

       9      too.

      10             So one of my guys, Martine Ariano (ph.), he's

      11      worked for me 15 years, he likes to spend his

      12      12 weeks off going home to visit his family in

      13      Guanajuato.

      14             Another employee of mine, Adolfo Gomar (ph.),

      15      who met Senator Ramos in Batavia, and spoke to her,

      16      he likes to go home to Manuel Doblado in Mexico and

      17      work on his 200-acre green ranch with his wife and

      18      son.

      19             Now, Adolfo has put four kids into college.

      20      In fact, his eldest daughter has a master's degree

      21      in engineering.

      22             He didn't get everything he got by not

      23      hustling, or by having his hours limited by his

      24      employers.

      25             I'm glad he found me as someone to work for.


       1             He chose me more than I chose him, and he's

       2      been great for us.  Wouldn't be where we are without

       3      him.

       4             I have lost employees to the perception that

       5      I have limited their hours or their earning ability.

       6             There was a guy named Donmigi (ph.) who used

       7      to work for me a few years ago.

       8             Now, one day on a day of rest, I show up,

       9      it's pouring rain.  I see Donmigi's Suburban.

      10      I walk out in the orchard.  There he is in his

      11      yellow raincoat, he's picking apples.

      12             I said, Donmigi, what you doing?  It's a day

      13      of rest, you can't be here.

      14             "Hey, I got a mortgage to pay," he tells me.

      15      "I gotta work."

      16             I said, Well, it's not safe.  It's a day of

      17      rest.  You know, I'm not here, you gotta go home.

      18             He said, Fine, but I'm finishing this bin,

      19      and I'm not coming back.

      20             And I never saw the guy again.

      21             He took a job working for my neighbor.

      22             The people who work for us know the rules.

      23             They've been gaming the system to their

      24      advantage, deftly, for 30 years, and it's helped

      25      them earn the money that they have.


       1             A disruption to this system may sound like a

       2      good idea, but disruption, as we know, can have

       3      unintended consequences.

       4             Uber moves in, now a Yellow Cab driver can't

       5      afford to pay the loan for their medallion.

       6             You raise the minimum wage on wait staff, now

       7      people maybe stopped tipping the way they used to,

       8      and that could be a big deal.

       9             For us, the disruption would be, well, we

      10      can't just pass the costs on to our buyers.

      11             You know, I'm growing the things that fill

      12      the produce shelves.

      13             The disruption would be growers in

      14      neighboring states will be glad to take those, that

      15      sales space from us.

      16             Thank you.

      17             Sorry to go over.

      18             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      19             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      20             ZAID KURDIEH:  There's a Stuart Mitchell

      21      ahead of me, or are they not here?

      22             ARI MIR-PONTIER:  No, he was switched.

      23             ZAID KURDIEH:  He was switched.

      24             SENATOR MAY:  We have -- I have Zaid next.

      25             MARILU AGUILAR:  Are you Number 41?


       1             ZAID KURDIEH:  I'm Number 43.

       2             SENATOR MAY:  I think you're next.

       3             ZAID KURDIEH:  Okay.

       4             MARILU AGUILAR:  So I'm next?

       5             SENATOR MAY:  Yes.

       6             MARILU AGUILAR:  Okay.

       7             Good afternoon.

       8             My name in Marilu Aguilar, and I'm a member

       9      of the Spiritus Farmworker Justice Committee of

      10      Spiritus Kristi Church in Rochester, New York.

      11             Before I begin I want to thank everyone,

      12      Senator Metzger and Ramos, and all of you, for this

      13      joint hearing, and for allowing me, a concerned

      14      citizen, and consumer, the opportunity to speak on

      15      the Farmworker (sic) Fair Labor Practices Act, a law

      16      that will give farmworkers basic workers' rights for

      17      the first time ever, and rights that all of us take

      18      for granted and have enjoyed for that long, and, the

      19      act will also guarantee that farmworkers receive the

      20      same rights and protections at any farm that they

      21      work on in New York State.

      22             And that's important, because I'm hearing a

      23      lot of good stories about farmers treating their

      24      workers right, and that's great.

      25             But the point is, and the bottom line, and


       1      the main point, is that they're not treated like

       2      that across the board.

       3             You need to listen to the stories of the

       4      farmworkers, and some of them are horror stories.

       5             So we need to be -- we need a law to be

       6      enforced, that will guarantee the same consistent,

       7      proper rights and protections for the farmworkers no

       8      matter where they work.

       9             I urge the New York State Senate to pass the

      10      bill that will give farmworkers these long-overdue

      11      basic workers' rights and protections.

      12             Farmworkers were deliberately, and I'll

      13      repeat this, were deliberately excluded from these

      14      rights because they were people of color, and here

      15      we are almost 100 years still operating under

      16      Jim Crow.

      17             And I have to ask, if these farmworkers were

      18      German, Irish, or Polish, would we here?

      19             As a person of faith, I see this debate as a

      20      moral issue.  It's not about nickels and dimes.

      21             I also see it as a black-and-white issue

      22      because, when you get right down to it, nothing

      23      justifies making a profit off the backs of human

      24      beings, not even saving a farm or jobs.

      25             To do so is immoral and inhumane.


       1             We are talking about people, not chattel, who

       2      work long, hard hours in all kinds of weather.

       3             We can't let economics continue dominating

       4      this debate.

       5             Workers are suffering or struggling, not on

       6      all farms, but all workers are not paid overtime or

       7      given a day of rest, and many can't complain about

       8      mistreatment, poor pay, or no pay, sexual

       9      harassment, discrimination, et cetera, for fear of

      10      being fired or experiencing other forms of

      11      retaliation, including being deported.

      12             So, in essence, the farmer has all the power

      13      and control; they call the shots.

      14             We need to give farmworkers an opportunity to

      15      speak for themselves.  We need to give them a voice

      16      through collective bargaining.

      17             What worker in America fears these things in

      18      their workplace?

      19             Why do we think it's okay to exclude

      20      farmworkers and dairy workers from these protections

      21      and rights?

      22             New York's agribusiness is a multi-billion

      23      industry.

      24             The cost of equality and justice for

      25      farmworkers who help create these profits is more


       1      than justified and way past due.

       2             All of us have enjoyed these labor rights, as

       3      I said, no matter where we work.

       4             Farmworkers do not.

       5             We need to pass this farmworker bill to

       6      ensure all farmworkers, no matter where they work,

       7      are treated fairly across the board, no exceptions,

       8      and to be consistent.

       9             It is incomprehensible to me why employers

      10      would want to -- wouldn't want to support a law that

      11      would give their employees the same basic workers'

      12      rights and protections that our children get working

      13      in the pizza parlor.

      14             Our children will never have to fight for

      15      water and toilets in their workplace the way

      16      farmworkers did just 20 years ago, and that was

      17      resisted by opponents.

      18             Imagine, in the late 1990s, laws had to be

      19      passed to guarantee farmworkers drinking water and

      20      toilets.

      21             The inhumanity of this to me is

      22      minds-boggling.

      23             As a consumer, I have stop purchasing apples

      24      grown in New York to protest the New York farming

      25      industry's opposition to the farmworker bill, and


       1      I will continue to boycott these apples, not

       2      purchase them, until this bill is passed.

       3             It appears that only the buck costs to some.

       4             For the past 16 years, through the

       5      association with the Justice for Farmworkers

       6      Campaign, my church has initiated actions to help

       7      educate the public about the bill, to thank and

       8      celebrate farmworkers, and to bring them out of the

       9      shadows.

      10             We have protested in front of Wegman's --

      11             SENATOR MAY:  I need to interrupt you.

      12             MARILU AGUILAR:  -- public market --

      13             SENATOR MAY:  Marilu?

      14             JESSE MULBURY:  -- and gone on -- all right.

      15             Thank you for the opportunity.

      16             But I just want to end with this:

      17             Do it at the state level, not the national,

      18      because they -- we need to do this now, and we don't

      19      know what we'll get at the national level.

      20             And, finally --

      21             SENATOR MAY:  Okay, no --

      22             MARILU AGUILAR:  -- agriculture feared water,

      23      toilets, the minimum (indiscernible), because they

      24      feared they would go under.

      25             They survived.


       1             They will survive over time.

       2             Thank you.

       3             SENATOR MAY:  Okay.  Thank you.

       4             ZAID KURDIEH:  (Indiscernible) Zaid, am

       5      I next?

       6             SENATOR METZGER:  Yes.  Thank you.

       7             ZAID KURDIEH:  Thank you, Senators, for

       8      allowing me to testify.

       9             I'd like to give you a little bit of

      10      background.

      11             My name is Zaid Kurdieh, which is probably a

      12      name you never heard.

      13             I am of Palestinian origin, and I am Muslim.

      14             So in terms of the talk about people not

      15      being fair to people, I've seen more of that than

      16      most people in this room, but I continue to be an

      17      American, and a proud American.

      18             I do hire, and have English and Italian and

      19      Germans working on my farm, as well as Egyptians and

      20      Guatemalans, and others.

      21             So I do get offended when I hear this because

      22      a lot of these stories are blips.  They're not the

      23      reality of what actually happens on farms.

      24             I am a former ag economist for USDA.

      25             I've worked for Cornell Cooperative


       1      Extension.

       2             I've farmed for 20 years.

       3             And I've worked with thousands of farms

       4      across the United States.

       5             So I've seen it all.

       6             So what I need the Senators to promise me

       7      here, is that they're not just doing this as an

       8      exercise in futility, because you really need to

       9      understand the farming industry.

      10             We are price-takers no matter where we sell.

      11             I sell at the Union Square Farmers Market,

      12      I do relatively well.

      13             But if you pass this overtime, there is a

      14      very good chance that I would either have to fold or

      15      cut my business or change my practices.

      16             Okay?

      17             There's no way.

      18             I gave you my tax returns.

      19             I gave you numbers calculated.

      20             $198,000, increased, would be what I would

      21      have to pay -- would have had to pay in 2018.

      22             The law that was passed in New York City

      23      raising the minimum wage for the restaurant workers

      24      to $15 caused the majority of my customers,

      25      65 percent of my customers are New York City


       1      restaurants, to come to me and say, Zaid, I need you

       2      to -- I need you to cut your prices to me.

       3             I can't -- that's the pressure that I am

       4      under as a farmer.

       5             I do fairly well, and I can negotiate very

       6      well.

       7             However, that's not the case for

       8      99.99 percent of the farmers in the United States

       9      who are selling commodities.

      10             If you have not noticed, suicide rates among

      11      farmers is at an all-time high.

      12             You think people are killing themselves

      13      because they can make changes as easily as is

      14      proposed in this legislation?

      15             I can go and work for a Fortune 500 company,

      16      making three, four times what I make, but I love

      17      farming.

      18             But this type of legislation could be what

      19      spells my last year of farming.

      20             And all of the people who are dependent on my

      21      farm, they will have to find work elsewhere.

      22             And there's not much happening in

      23      Chenango County, if you care to visit it.

      24             Most farms are up for sale now.

      25             Dairy farms are up for sale.


       1             Okay?

       2             This is not -- I don't -- I can't take this

       3      lightly at all.

       4             I've visited farmers in Puerto Rico to try to

       5      help them.  They have a hell of a time.

       6             I've visited farms in Florida.  They have a

       7      hell of a time as well.

       8             Okay?

       9             They're competing in a global world; we're

      10      all competing in a global market.

      11             In Mexico, where the average worker makes

      12      $15 an hour versus my average of over $150 per day,

      13      how am I going to compete when you can truck in

      14      tomatoes from Mexico to New York City?

      15             So, please, you need to really look at the

      16      facts, because there's some facts here, there's some

      17      bad actors, but that is not the state of the

      18      agricultural industry that I'm proud of.

      19             My guys go home to Egypt with ten to

      20      thirty thousand dollars in their pockets.

      21             Okay?

      22             So my English and American workers have been

      23      able to buy houses in Chenango County, even though

      24      we don't pay -- I can't pay $20 an hour, but I get

      25      close.


       1             But with this overtime, you're guaranteeing

       2      that I either -- like I said, there's no way I can

       3      continue operating the way I am under this

       4      circumstance.

       5             Now, is there ways around it?

       6             There may be.

       7             Thank you.

       8             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

       9             SENATOR MAY:  Let me just ask one question.

      10             Are there aspects of the bill that you are

      11      supportive of?

      12             ZAID KURDIEH:  The problem with the bill is

      13      that most of that stuff we already do anyway.

      14             Unemployment insurance we pay.

      15             Between unemployment and workers' --

      16      workmens' (sic) comp, I pay over $60,000.

      17             That's more than the income of maybe

      18      20 percent of the farms in New York, as the way the

      19      statistics are.

      20             I mean, the overtime bill, the only way it

      21      was going to work for America, because, remember,

      22      I'm in the Union Square next to a farm from

      23      New Jersey, if they don't have the same burden,

      24      I can't compete with them.

      25             SENATOR METZGER:  Is most of your -- do you


       1      do mainly direct marketing?

       2             ZAID KURDIEH:  Yes, I do direct marketing.

       3             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay.

       4             ZAID KURDIEH:  Absolutely.

       5             Did I answer your question, Senator?

       6             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

       7             ZAID KURDIEH:  You're welcome.

       8             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

       9             BILL BANKER:  My name is Bill Banker, and

      10      this is my wife, Corinne.

      11             Along with my brother, we milk 250 cows right

      12      here in Morrisville three times a day.

      13             We thoroughly enjoy what we're doing, and

      14      most days we're having fun.

      15             Being darn near the end of this whole

      16      process, we realize that you've already heard most

      17      of the facts and figures, and so we'll just tell you

      18      personally what this means to us.

      19             We employ three full-time workers and

      20      five very part-time workers.

      21             Our three full-time workers, on the average,

      22      work between 60 and 65 hours a week.  And we've had

      23      them leave if they get less hours than that, as you

      24      have heard today.

      25             Our budget is barebones.


       1             We do not pull a regular family draw from the

       2      farm.  We, literally, get what is left.

       3             For our three full-time employees, we provide

       4      housing, cable, Internet, heat, electricity.

       5             We pay them on a weekly basis more than our

       6      draw is for ourselves.

       7             If we are required to move to the forced

       8      overtime, we could not handle the

       9      one-and-a-half-time hourly rate, so we would have to

      10      lower them to 40 hours a week, and that would push

      11      our workforce up to 4.5 full-times instead of the

      12      three.

      13             And this -- as you have heard many times

      14      today, they are demanding the hours, so we would be

      15      forced to look for more employees.

      16             In this environment in the state, that is not

      17      a very easy task.

      18             New York State needs to stop regulating every

      19      aspect of our business.

      20             We treat our employees with respect.

      21             We offer paid time off.

      22             We provide yearly bonuses, as well as dinners

      23      out or pizzas on a regular basis when the work for

      24      that week has been particularly rough.

      25             To us, they are extended family.


       1             We do care for our cows.  We admire our cows.

       2      They are amazing animals.

       3             But we do respect and care for our employees.

       4      We work beside them every day.

       5             On a regular basis, we ask them what they

       6      need from us; what the job -- what we need to do to

       7      make a better job for them.

       8             We appreciate your interest in fair

       9      compensation, but we don't agree with the route that

      10      you are planning to take to achieve it.

      11             We believe that through the additional

      12      benefits, that we give them fair compensation.

      13             Agriculture is a different industry.

      14             We do not work by the clock.

      15             Even we, the owners, we do not stop working

      16      until the job is done.

      17             If we aren't taking good care of our

      18      employees, they do not stay.

      19             They know, and appreciate, what they are

      20      worth in our industry, and they're not afraid to

      21      move to seek better time.

      22             Thank you.

      23             Are there any questions?

      24             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      25             I have a question.


       1             If the overtime requirement were offset by

       2      more credit, for example, for what you spend on

       3      housing and other benefits for the employees, would

       4      that -- could that work?

       5             BILL BANKER:  I suppose it could work.

       6             CORRINE BANKER:  Are you going to pay us what

       7      we're going to be paying our employees?

       8             BILL BANKER:  They know what their

       9      opportunities are at other places.

      10             CORRINE BANKER:  We have so many hours a week

      11      that we need help for, and so that's a given.  We

      12      know exactly how many hours a week we require labor

      13      for.

      14             And I know what my -- I know what my budget

      15      is.

      16             And so I know that, if I can't hire, and

      17      I can't pay my labor force time and a half on the

      18      three full-time workers that I have, that's going to

      19      cost me an extra $75,000 a year.

      20             I'm going to have to hire another

      21      one-and-a-half workers to make up for it.

      22             The three full-time people that we have right

      23      now will leave.  We already know that.  They're not

      24      going to stay at 40 hours a week.  I can't afford to

      25      pay them time and a half.


       1             So something is going to have to give there.

       2             And, unless New York State is going to pay me

       3      to pay them, I don't see that happening with

       4      New York State's budget crisis the way that it is.

       5             SENATOR METZGER:  May I ask how long your

       6      workers have been with you, your full-time?

       7             CORRINE BANKER:  The longest one, we just

       8      hired our first full-time employee in 2006.  And we

       9      had that one.

      10             We had one full-time employee for five years.

      11             And then the group that we have right now, we

      12      have had since 2008, 2013, and 2014.

      13             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      14             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

      15             BILL BANKER:  Thank you.

      16             JON GREENWOOD:  Good afternoon, and thank you

      17      for holding this hearing.  It's been a long day,

      18      especially for you, I'm sure.

      19             My name is Jon Greenwood.  Along with my wife

      20      and son, I own and operate Greenwood Dairy in

      21      Canton, New York.

      22             I also serve as chair of the Northeast Dairy

      23      Producers Association.

      24             I come from a little different perspective

      25      than many, in that I didn't grow up on a path, but


       1      chose this career path.

       2             I started out working on the farm I now own

       3      while in college.

       4             I worked by the hour, working up to 80 hours

       5      a week.

       6             After college I was offered a full-time job.

       7      They could not afford to pay me by the hour, so

       8      I worked for salary with room and board.

       9             After several years as an employee, the farm

      10      owner sold me the farm; so I went from employee to

      11      owner.

      12             We currently have 23 employees, both local

      13      and Latino.

      14             We pay everyone by the hour, and weekly.

      15             Some of our employees get housing with all

      16      utilities, satellite TV, trash service, Internet,

      17      and more.

      18             We also provide all the services required by

      19      law, such as workers' comp, unemployment insurance.

      20             On our farm, as an added benefit, we offer

      21      disability insurance and family leave, paid

      22      vacation.

      23             We are flexible with additional time off.

      24             We offer a retirement plan and bonuses.

      25             And everyone is scheduled for at least one


       1      day per week off.

       2             However, during a busy week or if someone is

       3      sick, someone may cover by working their scheduled

       4      day off.

       5             The proposed legislation is especially

       6      onerous in the 8-hour-per-day requirement.

       7             Other businesses subject to overtime do not

       8      have this restriction.

       9             This would make it even more difficult for us

      10      to finish the job with bad weather coming.

      11             I would ask that you understand that we

      12      operate our farms in a very competitive environment.

      13             We compete with neighboring farms and

      14      businesses for employees, and at the same time, we

      15      compete with other states and internationally for

      16      markets for our milk.

      17             We are already at a competitive disadvantage

      18      because of the high cost of doing business in

      19      New York and a higher minimum wage.

      20             Our work, by its very nature, is seasonable

      21      and weather-dependent.

      22             So, for example, with spring planting, we go

      23      like crazy with specialized equipment, and then it's

      24      over.

      25             If we could only have our employees work


       1      8 hours a day and 40 hours a week before overtime,

       2      the increased costs would be enormous, and the

       3      ability to find and train additional employees for a

       4      short period of time would be very difficult, if not

       5      impossible.

       6             At least in the dairy business, the busiest

       7      periods come in spurts, so when they're over, or the

       8      weather doesn't cooperate, you have downtime.

       9             Many of our employees chose farm work

      10      because, like other places of work, they are not

      11      restricted to 40 hours or less to avoid overtime.

      12             I just hired an employee who took a pay cut

      13      to work on our farm because he could be close to

      14      home, and not limited to 40 hours a week and then

      15      spend the rest of the time in a motel.

      16             Several of our part-time employees come from

      17      jobs that are 40 hours a week, and some of them

      18      actually take time off from their regular job so

      19      they can work long hours for a short period of time

      20      to make the extra money.

      21             I would stress that no one is being forced to

      22      work.  We try to set hours to fit the employee.

      23             Labor is my second-largest cost after feed.

      24             And I have employees who -- as has been said

      25      before, who tell me they want hours, and they will


       1      leave if I don't give them at least 60 hours a week.

       2             I have employees that worked in construction

       3      where they could get higher pay, but less hours, and

       4      more seasonal than, say, milking, and they like the

       5      farm dairy work because it is steady and you can

       6      more hours, equaling more pay.

       7             I know our employees look forward to the busy

       8      periods, getting a crop in or harvested, and then

       9      getting a bigger paycheck.

      10             I would love to pay more, to pay overtime,

      11      but the realities we face do not allow it.

      12             As I said before, we are competing with other

      13      states and internationally for our markets.

      14             In closing:

      15             A law that requires a mandatory day of rest

      16      and overtime after 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week,

      17      is simply not workable on a farm.

      18             The proposed legislation would hurt the very

      19      people you want to help.

      20             The labor market is such that a good worker

      21      has no trouble finding a job and they are in

      22      constant demand.

      23             We as employers must treat our employees with

      24      dignity and respect, or they will be gone.

      25             Now, we'd just like to add, I've heard of


       1      several alleged abuses here of employees today.

       2             And I don't think anybody in this room

       3      tolerates any of them.

       4             But I fail to see how this legislation would

       5      address any of those issues.

       6             There's already laws in place to prevent

       7      that.  They just need to be enforced.

       8             But nobody endorses abusing an employee in

       9      any way.

      10             And as I said, the labor market is so

      11      competitive, that people just -- they leave.

      12             If you don't treat them right, they leave.

      13             SENATOR MAY:  Okay.  Thank you very much.

      14             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you so much.

      15             So I just -- I want to thank, first of all,

      16      everyone who stayed.

      17             This is a long afternoon.

      18             But, I want to express, especially on behalf

      19      of my colleagues, our gratitude to the farmers, as

      20      well as the farmworkers, that came out today to

      21      provide testimony directly.

      22             And we know how hard to it is to get away

      23      from the farm at this time of year.

      24             And, you know, I called for these hearings on

      25      this bill because we need to understand, and the


       1      Senate -- the Legislature needs to understand, what

       2      farming is in New York, and the humans that are

       3      behind it.

       4             And, New York is very unique in its

       5      agriculture, and we have a lot that we want to keep.

       6             We keep our small farms which make up most

       7      of -- we've heard from a mix of large -- larger and

       8      smaller farms.

       9             Even our large farms in New York are small

      10      compared to many farms in other parts of the

      11      country.

      12             We want to keep a diverse agricultural

      13      economy.

      14             We want our farm laborers to be treated well.

      15             We want our farmers to lead a good life.

      16             So we have to make sure any legislation, you

      17      know, gives a really careful consideration to the

      18      reality of farming, and, you know, strikes a balance

      19      that makes sense.

      20             So, I want to thank you again.

      21             And I don't know if you want to say a few

      22      words?

      23             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Yes, I would.

      24             First of all, I want to thank you,

      25      Senators Metzger and Senator May for inviting me.


       1             And this is a very exciting opportunity for

       2      me to hear from the people who actually are

       3      responsible for growing our food in the state of

       4      New York.

       5             I appreciate that.

       6             And I just want to say that this is very

       7      important, and I want to caution us from this -- the

       8      whole notion that this is a Jim Crow moment.

       9             I'm from the south, and I know Jim Crow, and

      10      this ain't Jim Crow.

      11             Jim Crow is very different.

      12                [Applause.]

      13             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  So I just want to make

      14      sure we don't go too far down that path.

      15             The other thing is, of course, farming is a

      16      major economy industry in our state, and I'm

      17      concerned that we want to do whatever we need to do

      18      to make sure that that part of our economy is

      19      supported in the same way that we try to support

      20      other parts of the economy.

      21             And I know that we've talked a lot -- I'm

      22      from the city, quote/unquote, and we've done quite a

      23      bit of subsidizing people that we want to do, for

      24      housing, making housing affordable; for education,

      25      making sure our young people can be able to go


       1      attend college; and so forth and so on.

       2             So we in our state have tried to look at what

       3      is important to our people, and to subsidize that by

       4      helping those economies.

       5             And I just want to make sure we're doing all

       6      that we can to help the farming industry.

       7             And I didn't hear that today, but I think we

       8      can be talking about that a lot more since you're

       9      there.

      10             Now that you're onboard in our conference, we

      11      all depend on that happening a lot more.

      12             SENATOR METZGER:  She means that I'm a new

      13      Senator.

      14             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  She's a new Senator, and

      15      we've been waiting for her for many years, so we're

      16      so happy that you're there, as well as Senator May.

      17             And so this really, for me, is an important

      18      moment for us to look at the farming industry in

      19      ways that we have not been necessarily able to, and

      20      to actually do something about it, because we have a

      21      new majority in the Senate, and we want that to mean

      22      something to every part of our state.

      23             And so I think we, certainly I do, and I know

      24      that the new Senators here also, do speak for the

      25      new leadership and the State Senate, that we want to


       1      do more to be helpful, to be supportive, and by --

       2      definitely, by no means, do we want to hurt the

       3      farming communities and industry in our state.

       4             So we thank you for taking this time, it's

       5      very important to us.

       6             And we will all do our homework, and we will

       7      do the right thing.

       8                [Applause.]

       9             SENATOR METZGER:  I just want to mention that

      10      Senator Montgomery has been in the Senate for a long

      11      time, and she has been a longtime champion of

      12      agriculture, on the Agriculture Committee, and for

      13      food security, and for getting food to schools, to

      14      New York -- our -- the food we grow in New York into

      15      those markets in the city.

      16             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Absolutely.

      17             SENATOR METZGER:  So I want to thank her for

      18      her work.

      19             SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Thank you.

      20             Thanks, everybody.

      21             I can't say have a good day, but I'm having a

      22      great day.

      23             SENATOR MAY:  Good.

      24             Well, I just want to reiterate my thanks to

      25      everybody who came, who has stayed through this long


       1      afternoon, who has testified.

       2             From my perspective, we've heard very

       3      powerful testimony about the basic human rights that

       4      are embodied in this bill.

       5             And I think, as New Yorkers, all of us want

       6      to affirm those rights.

       7             And we also have an obligation to our farmers

       8      and our farm economy to make sure that whatever

       9      comes out of this bill is balanced and fair to

      10      everyone.

      11             And that's my commitment here.

      12             The bill has enough sponsors to pass as it

      13      is, but we are holding these hearings so that we can

      14      make sure that all viewpoints are heard, and that we

      15      can embody in the bill what -- what makes sense,

      16      exactly.

      17             So I just deeply appreciate all, the many,

      18      perspectives that we have heard here today.

      19             And I hope everybody here heard something

      20      that challenges maybe the way you've been thinking.

      21             I know I have.

      22             And, that we all come away with a richer

      23      sense of the whole -- the whole panoply of issues

      24      that are embodied in this bill, and in the kinds of

      25      decisions that we are trying to make wisely and well


       1      in the Senate now.

       2             So, thank you very much for being part of

       3      this process, and we look forward to hearing from

       4      you in the future as well.

       5             Thank you.

       6                [Applause.]

       7             SENATOR MAY:  Oh, yes.

       8             And I -- we need to thank the people from the

       9      Senate who came here to record this.

      10             This will be available online for anybody to

      11      watch any part of this proceeding.

      12             And I need to thank my staff who worked

      13      incredibly hard to make this run smoothly; who put

      14      together the program, who made sure that we all had

      15      the testimony that we needed, who secured this

      16      place, who made everybody welcome.

      17             And I would love it if we could give them a

      18      hand because they have put in a lot of hours for

      19      this.

      20                [Applause.]

      21             SENATOR METZGER:  Yes, I would give a

      22      shout-out as well to my staff who has been

      23      organizing all three hearings, working on all three

      24      hearings.



       1             And, Ari Mir-Pontier for providing

       2      translation services when we need it.

       3             So thank you so much.

       4             SENATOR MAY:  Thank you, all.


       6                (Whereupon, at approximately 3:34 p.m., the

       7        joint committee public hearing concluded, and

       8        adjourned.)

       9                           ---oOo---