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

       4                        PUBLIC HEARING:

       5                  TO HEAR PUBLIC TESTIMONY ON
                               William H. Rogers Building
       8                       William J. Lindsay County Complex
                               725 Veterans Memorial Highway
       9                       Smithtown, New York

      10                       Date:  April 26, 2019
                               Time:  2:30 p.m.

      12      PRESIDING:

      13         Senator Jen Metzger
                 Chair, Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture
                 Senator Jessica Ramos
      15         Chair, Senate Standing Committee on Labor


      17      CO-SPONSOR:

      18         Senator Monica R. Martinez


      20      ALSO PRESENT:

      21         Senator Diane J. Savino

      22         Senator Toby Ann Stavisky

      23         Senator Gustavo Rivera

      24         Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan



              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Nora Catlin                               19       31
       3      Ag Program Director
              Cornell Cooperative Extension
       4        of Suffolk County

       5      John Marafino                             33
              Chief of Staff to
       6      Riverhead Town Supervisor

       7      Al Krupski                                35
       8      Suffolk County Legislature

       9      Margaret Gray                             42
              Associate Professor of
      10        Political Science
              Adelphi University
              Amanda Merrow                             48
      12      Co-Founder & Farmer
              Amber Waves Farm
              Alexander Balsam                          52       55
      14      Founder and Co-Owner
              Balsam Farms
              Patrick Young                             57       60
      16      Program Director
              Juan Antonio Zungia                       65       69
      18      Farmworker
              Denise Rivera providing translation
              Jeff Rottkamp                             73       76
      20      Owner
              Fox Hollows Farms
              Karl Novak                                84       90
      22      General Manager
              Half Hollow Nursery
              Randi Shubin Dresner                      93
      24      President and CEO
              Island Harvest Food Bank


              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              William Zalakar                           96      101
       3      Vice President of the
                Long Island Farm Bureau
       4      Also, General Manager of
                Kurt Weiss Greenhouses
              Robert Carpenter                         105
       6      Administrative Director
              Long Island Farm Bureau
              Roger Clayman                            110
       8      Executive Director
              Long Island Federation of Labor,
       9        AFL-CIO

      10      Victoria Daza                            115
      11      Long Island Jobs with Justice

      12      Ryan Madden                              117
              Sustainability Organizer
      13      Long Island Progressive Coalition

      14      Eliana Fernandez                         121
              Long Island Lead Organizer
      15      Make the Road New York

      16      Jennifer Halsey-Dupree                   123      126
      17      The Milk Pail

      18      Sister Margaret Smyth                    129
      19      North Fork Spanish Apostolate

      20      Kareem Massoud                           132
      21      Paumanok Vineyards

      22      Philip Schmitt                           136
              Angel Reyes Rivas                        140
      24      Long Island Coordinator
              Rural & Migrant Ministry


              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Jennifer Gil-Vineza                      143
       3      Paralegal
              SEPA Mujer, Inc.
              Sister Karen Burke                       147
       5      Sisters of St. Joseph

       6      George Starkie                           150      154
       7      Starkie Family Farms, LLC

       8      Charlotte Koons                          159
              Retired School Teacher
       9      Board Member of the New York Civil
                Liberties Union, Suffolk Chapter
              Michael Hurwitz                          162
      11      Representing GrowNYC Green Markets
              Also representing Harvest Home
      12        Farmers Markets

      13      Dustin Bliss                             166
      14      Cattaraugus County

      15      Bob Nolan                                174
              Jennifer Rodgers Brown                   179
      17      Environmental Sociologist
              LAU Post
              Reverend Marie Tetro                     183
      19      Episcopal Ministries of Long Island

      20      Keith Kimball                            185
              Farmer  Livingston County
              Peter Allen                              190
      22      Representative
              Van de Wetering Greenhouses




              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Alejandra Sorto                          196
       3      Director of Civic Engagement and
       4      Hispanic Federation
       5      Miles Karitchiolo
              Christian Bays (ph.)                     204
       7      Farmer

       8      Claire de Roche (ph.)                    209
              Public Issues Committee
       9      Long Island Council of Churches

      10      Gil Bernardino                           211
              Founder and Executive Director
      11      Circulo de la Hispanidad

      12      Lisa Zucker                              214
      13      New York Civil Liberties Union

      14      Chris Kaplan-Walbrecht                   217
      15      Garden of Eve












       1             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Okay, ladies and

       2      gentlemen, we are ready to begin our joint hearing.

       3             If you can all find your seats so we may

       4      begin.

       5             Again, welcome.

       6             Today's April 26, 2019, and we welcome you to

       7      today's joint hearing by the Senate Committee on

       8      Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Labor.

       9             Before we begin, please turn your attention

      10      to the American flag that stands behind us as we

      11      recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and to honor the

      12      men and women who fight for us every single day at

      13      home and abroad.

      14                (All in the room say:)

      15             "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the

      16      United States of America, and to the Republic for

      17      which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible,

      18      with liberty and justice for all."

      19             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  If we could just reserve a

      20      moment of silence, please, for not only the lives

      21      lost in the last bombing in Sri Lanka, but also

      22      armed forces.  And I know that Rob Carpenter is

      23      here, and I'm sorry for the loss of your mother.

      24             If we could just have a moment of silence for

      25      them.


       1                (All in the room observe a moment of

       2        silence.)

       3             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

       4             Again, welcome to today's joint meeting.

       5             My name is Monica Martinez, senator

       6      representing the 3rd District, Brentwood, all the

       7      way to Mastic-Shirley.

       8             I am joined today by Senator Metzger to my

       9      left, who is the Chairwoman of the Agriculture

      10      Committee;

      11             I have Senator Ramos, the Chairwoman of the

      12      Labor Committee;

      13             To her right we have

      14      Senator Toby Ann Stavisky;

      15             And to Senator Metzger's left, we have

      16      Senator Diane Savino.

      17             Thank you for being here today, and welcome

      18      to the Suffolk County Legislature.

      19             It is great to be back behind this dais.  It

      20      feels nice to see all of you here.

      21             We picked Hauppauge today, as it is the

      22      central location of Long Island and the Long Island

      23      region.

      24             This is something that we're doing because it

      25      affects Long Island as a whole.  And to make it


       1      feasible for all stakeholders to join us, we figured

       2      this would be the spot to do it.

       3             But we're also open, I know, that

       4      Legislator Krupski would like to see this also in

       5      Riverhead.

       6             And I am completely supportive of that if my

       7      colleagues support that endeavor as well.

       8             I would also like to thank the

       9      Patrick Library for providing us with translation

      10      devices.

      11             Anyone who needs translation devices, please

      12      let one of my team members know, and we will provide

      13      one for you.

      14             My team members, please raise your hands.

      15                (The team members comply.)

      16             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      17             If you see any of them, and you need

      18      translation devices, please let them know, and we

      19      will give that to you.

      20             And, of course, to my amazing team, thank you

      21      for your hard work and dedication, everything that

      22      you do, to make things possible in my office.

      23             Also, I am joined by our presiding officer,

      24      Dwayne Gregory.

      25             He is around here somewhere.


       1             Thank you for hosting us today.

       2             We're also joined by Suffolk County

       3      Legislator Al Krupski, who is a farmer himself.  And

       4      it was great to serve with him the last six years

       5      behind this dais.

       6             I know that we're also waiting for

       7      Legislator Rudy Sunderman who represents the

       8      Mastic-Shirley area, as I do at the state.

       9             Today's hearing will focus on Senate

      10      Bill 2387, which is sponsored by Senator Ramos to my

      11      right, which is the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices

      12      Act.

      13             Public comment is exclusively limited to this

      14      topic and on this bill.

      15             Any other comments outside the scope of this

      16      bill will not be permitted.

      17             Thank you for understanding, because our time

      18      is limited, and we have a long list of individuals

      19      who do want to speak and testify, so please be

      20      cognizant of that.

      21             The hearing will be an opportunity for

      22      interested parties to provide testimony and public

      23      comment on the impact of the proposed legislation,

      24      express concerns, and provide recommendations for

      25      the proposed legislation to the relevant committees.


       1             I would like to now introduce Senator Metzger

       2      to make opening remarks, followed by Senator Ramos,

       3      followed by Senator Stavisky, and ending with

       4      Senator Savino.

       5             Thank you.

       6             SENATOR METZGER:  Thanks so much,

       7      Senator Martinez.

       8             My name is Jen Metzger.  I chair the

       9      Senate Agriculture Committee.  I also represent the

      10      42nd District, which is -- represents the regions

      11      of Catskill and the Hudson Valley region, where we

      12      have many, many farms.

      13             I'm very pleased to co-sponsor these hearings

      14      with Senate Labor Committee Chair, Jessica Ramos.

      15             And I'm very glad that our Senators Savino

      16      and Stavisky can join us.

      17             In my view, it is vital to receive the direct

      18      input of farmers, farmworkers, and the public on

      19      this important legislation.

      20             This -- these are the first hearings on this

      21      subject in nearly a decade, and the first ever held

      22      outside of Albany.

      23             So it's really important to get your

      24      community's perspectives.

      25             Yesterday we held our first hearing upstate


       1      in Morrisville, where we heard some really valuable

       2      testimony from over 40 farmers, farmworkers, and

       3      others.

       4             And on May 2nd we'll be holding a third

       5      hearing in my district in Sullivan County.

       6             As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee,

       7      and representative of many farmers and farmworkers

       8      in Ulster, Orange, Delaware, and Sullivan counties,

       9      I recognize that this proposed legislation will

      10      greatly impact farming in New York.

      11             The purpose of these public hearings is to

      12      hear from farmers and farmworkers alike, as we weigh

      13      this legislation, and learn directly from you, about

      14      the realities of small and family-owned farm

      15      operations in New York, and listen to the concerns

      16      and needs of all of those who will be affected by

      17      the proposed legislation.

      18             New York has deep roots in farming.

      19             We're going to learn about the deep roots

      20      right here on Long Island.

      21             It represents $4.2 billion of our economy,

      22      and it is an integral part of our rural heritage and

      23      culture.

      24             In contrast to agriculture in other parts of

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


       1      family-owned.  Over half of the farms in the state

       2      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 the

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

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

       7      farms are struggling.  And despite the popular local

       8      food movement, increasing numbers of people in rural

       9      and urban communities are experiencing food

      10      insecurity.

      11             In my view, we have to work together,

      12      collaboratively, on solutions that sustain farming

      13      in New York for the long-term, providing real

      14      economic benefit for farmworkers and farm families

      15      and food security for all New Yorkers.

      16             I want to thank all of you for being here,

      17      especially the farmers and farmworkers.

      18             This is not an easy time to get away from the

      19      farm at this time of year, and we really appreciate

      20      you coming and giving -- providing some testimony.

      21             Thank you very much.

      22             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you,

      23      Senator Metzger.

      24             Just before Senator Ramos does her

      25      introduction, I also want to make sure that


       1      I acknowledge Oscar, who is here from

       2      Senator Montgomery's Office.

       3             Thank you for being here.

       4             And, also, we'll be hearing from him as well.

       5             And John Marafino, he is representing the

       6      supervisor from Riverhead, Supervisor Smith.

       7             SENATOR METZGER:  Good afternoon, everybody.

       8             Buenas tardes.

       9             My name is Jessica Ramos.  I am a state

      10      senator from District 13 on the other side of

      11      Long Island called Queens.

      12             I am born and raised in my district, but I am

      13      also the proud granddaughter, niece, cousin, of

      14      farmers who harvest coffee, avocado, many fruit.  We

      15      also raise chickens and pigs in Columbia.

      16             So farming is not foreign to me at all,

      17      despite being a city girl.

      18             Nevertheless, we're here because we do want

      19      to hear from everyone, from every stakeholder, with

      20      regard to this bill, which is critical in ending a

      21      Jim Crow Era law that's been on the books unfairly

      22      in New York for 80 years.

      23             So I am very happy to be here with all of

      24      you, and I look forward to ensuring that we are

      25      lifting up every single worker in New York State.


       1             Thank you.

       2             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, Senator.

       3             And also to the deputy sheriffs, thank you

       4      for being here, and keeping order, and providing

       5      safety here.

       6             Senator Stavisky.

       7             SENATOR STAVISKY:  Thank you, and thank you

       8      to my colleagues for bringing everybody together.

       9             My name is Toby Stavisky.  I chair the

      10      Committee on Higher Education in the Senate.

      11             And I represent a district adjacent to

      12      Senator Ramos in central and eastern Queens.

      13             And, in fact, until recently, we did have a

      14      working farm in Queens.

      15             I am the daughter of a graduate of the

      16      College of Agriculture at Cornell, so my family

      17      understood the meaning of agricultural work.

      18             But more importantly, I just wanted to

      19      mention that this is not an upstate/downstate,

      20      suburb/city, issue.

      21             We are very aware of the issues involved, in

      22      New York City.

      23             And, in fact, I am proud in my Senate

      24      District to represent a high school, John Bowne

      25      High School, that has an agricultural program.  And


       1      they train 600 students for agricultural, as well as

       2      animal service.

       3             And I look forward to listening to what

       4      everybody has to say because this is a hearing, and

       5      we are hear to hear.

       6             Thank you.

       7             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Senator Savino.

       8             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

       9             First, I want to thank my colleagues for

      10      hosting this hearing.

      11             And I want to thank Senator Martinez

      12      particularly for hosting us out here in

      13      Suffolk County.

      14             So, I am Senator Diane Savino.  I represent

      15      the 23rd Senate District, which is parts of Brooklyn

      16      and Staten Island.

      17             I have, in the past 14 years, this is my

      18      15th year in the Senate, I've chaired many

      19      committees.  And over the course of these years,

      20      I've actually chaired the Senate Labor Committee,

      21      and I come out of the labor movement.  I started my

      22      career as a labor official in the public sector.

      23             You know, the history of workers banding

      24      together for mutual aid and protection is certainly

      25      not a new one.  Dates back to the medieval craft


       1      guilds.  Didn't start in the United States.  It

       2      started way back in European countries, and they

       3      brought that ethic with them here.

       4             But labor law is pretty young.  It's only

       5      about 85 years old, maybe 100 years old if you

       6      factor in some of the pre-labor laws that were

       7      written before the NLRA.

       8             We all know the history of the NLRA, and why

       9      farmworkers were excluded, along with independent

      10      contractors and domestic workers.

      11             In 2010, when I was the chair of the Civil

      12      Service and Labor Committee, I wrote, and enacted,

      13      along with former-Assemblyman Keith Wright, the

      14      first Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights in the

      15      country, changing that history for that subset of

      16      workers.

      17             There's only been four states that have

      18      adopted a farmworkers' bill of rights.

      19             And I think it's partly in recognition of the

      20      complexities of the farming industry.  It's, how do

      21      you adapt the industrial manufacturing model to an

      22      agricultural industry?

      23             And I think that's the most important thing

      24      for those of us, as policymakers, to try and figure

      25      out:  How do we do this?


       1             How do we create a system that provides a

       2      profound difference in the lives of farmworkers, so

       3      that they're treated with fairness and dignity and

       4      respect, and also a recognition of the complexities

       5      of the agricultural industry?

       6             And I think the -- I think one of the most

       7      important things I've found out when I got to Albany

       8      was that New York City was not the center of the

       9      world; that Westchester was not Upstate New York;

      10      and that finance and real estate are not the biggest

      11      industries in New York.

      12             That agriculture is.

      13             And we have to do what we can to protect our

      14      agricultural industry and, at the same time,

      15      recognize the dignity of the people who work in our

      16      agricultural fields.

      17             So, again, I look forward to hearing your

      18      testimony, and hoping that we can finally right what

      19      many recognize as an injustice, and do so in

      20      treating everybody fairly.

      21             Thank you.

      22             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, Senators, for

      23      the introductions to our audience today.

      24             We will continue with our agenda.

      25             But I have been told that Senator Rivera is


       1      also here.

       2             He is probably making his way through,

       3      I guess, our doorways.

       4             SENATOR RAMOS:  Did you know, yesterday,

       5      we had a hearing in Morrisville, in

       6      Senator Rachel May's district, and it was actually

       7      the first time in the history of the New York State

       8      Legislature that there was a hearing presided by

       9      entirely women state senators.

      10             And I just want to --

      11                [Applause.]

      12             -- I just want to note, that before

      13      Senator Rivera enters the room, this, too, would

      14      have been a hearing entirely presided by women.

      15             Thanks, Senator (inaudible).

      16             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Yeah, too bad, we got to

      17      accept him.

      18             Welcome, Senator Rivera, to Suffolk County.

      19             SENATOR RIVERA:  A pleasure to be here.

      20             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Great.

      21             We'll get you set up.

      22             But -- okay, so we will continue with our

      23      agenda.

      24             And, again, thank you to my colleagues for

      25      being here, and for, really, the whole purpose and


       1      the intention is to hear you, and to listen, and we

       2      are ready to do so.

       3             But before we begin, we do have a brief

       4      presentation on the overview of farming here in

       5      Suffolk County by the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

       6             If -- Cornell Cooperative Extension, if you

       7      are ready to present, please come forward.

       8             And if you could draw your attention to the

       9      screen to my right, will be your left.

      10             NORA CATLIN:  All right, am I on?

      11             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  You're on.

      12             If you could just state your name for the

      13      record.

      14             NORA CATLIN:  (Inaudible.)

      15                (Comments from the audience of

      16        inaudibility.)

      17             Speak louder and into the mic.

      18             All right, how's this, are we good?

      19             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Can everybody hear?

      20             NORA CATLIN:  Can everyone hear me?

      21             Okay.

      22             So, yes, I'm Nora Catlin.  I'm the ag program

      23      director for Cornell Cooperative Extension of

      24      Suffolk County, and thank you for inviting me here

      25      today to share information with you.


       1             Cornell University has been the land-grant

       2      partner for New York State for over 150 years.

       3             Cornell Cooperative Extension of

       4      Suffolk County was founded in 1917, and we support

       5      our stakeholders through education and research

       6      through our affiliation with Cornell University.

       7             As we are an educational resource, we don't

       8      have a position on today's issue that we're

       9      discussing at the hearing today, but we're more than

      10      happy to share educational information with you.

      11             So, in Suffolk County, for those of you not

      12      familiar with agriculture in Suffolk County, it

      13      probably will come as a surprise that we are the

      14      number-three in value for agriculture in

      15      New York State.  It's a $226 million industry.

      16                (Slide show begins.)

      17             We have a highly diversified agriculture here

      18      on Long Island, with a focus on high-value crops and

      19      a lot of direct retail.

      20             We have about 30,000 acres in farms.

      21             This is information from the recently

      22      released 2017 census of agriculture.

      23             But when you look at our average size of farm

      24      and the median size of farm, predominantly, we are

      25      made up of small farms.  These are almost all


       1      family-run and family-owned operations.

       2             It's no surprise, of course, that there is a

       3      very high population density on Long Island and

       4      within our 100-mile radius.

       5             So what this means, is that Long Island

       6      agriculture and the ag-related products has access

       7      to a large population, to meet both their demand --

       8      to meet their demand for fresh farm and local

       9      products.

      10             One of the other things it means, is that

      11      there is an ever-increasing threat to loss of

      12      farmland through development.

      13             Many years ago that was -- you know, we

      14      realized how -- Suffolk County realized how precious

      15      farmland is, and they created the purchase

      16      development rights program to help prohibit loss of

      17      farmland to development.  It started in the '70s.

      18      It was the first of its kind in the nation, and

      19      efforts are continuing to this day to protect as

      20      much farmland at we can for development.

      21             But it is a very precious resource here.

      22             So I just want to go through and highlight a

      23      little bit about the major commodities grown here on

      24      Long Island.

      25             One of them -- a few of them are in what we


       1      call "ornamentals."

       2             One is greenhouse flora culture.

       3             We produce about 50 percent of

       4      New York State's value here in Suffolk County.

       5             Now, there's about 10 million square feet

       6      under coverage, 420 acres in the open, and it's

       7      about 90 million in sales.

       8             Nursery crops are also a very -- another very

       9      large crop on Long Island, about 40 percent of

      10      New York State's production.  About 3500 acres in

      11      the open, 600,000-plus under -- square feet under

      12      cover.

      13             Sod is another important industry here, about

      14      3500 acres.

      15             Vegetables as well, about 6,000 acres, about

      16      29 million in sales.

      17             Long Island used to be known for, say,

      18      cauliflower and potatoes many years ago.  And that

      19      landscape has changed quite dramatically over the

      20      years as farmers have adopted to meet different

      21      demands.

      22             The first vineyard on Long Island was planted

      23      in the '70s.  That's expanded to, now, about

      24      2,000 acres and 50 tasting rooms.

      25             There are many other crops grown here as


       1      well.

       2             We have tree fruit, berries, small -- berries

       3      and small fruit, field crops, hay, hops, poultry, to

       4      name a few, and many others.

       5             A lot of these are small amounts meant to,

       6      you know, support -- community-supported agriculture

       7      and/or farm stands.

       8             In addition to the wholesale sales that

       9      Long Island agriculture contributes to the local

      10      economy, they're also a big driving force in tourism

      11      for the local areas.  Wineries, breweries, cideries,

      12      farm stands, you-pick operations, all bring people

      13      out to Long Island.  And it's a considerable

      14      contribution to Long Island's, about, 3 billion

      15      tourism industry.

      16             Wineries themselves are estimated to generate

      17      99 million in tourism spending, producing

      18      1.3 million visits to tasting rooms around

      19      Suffolk County.

      20             So just to discuss a little bit about

      21      agriculture labor, and how it differs from, pretty

      22      much, most other jobs out there.

      23             Agriculture, just by the definition of it, is

      24      intense, and seasonal.

      25             So intense-and-seasonal labor is critical


       1      need for agricultural producers.

       2             They have a very short window in which to

       3      grow and sell their crops.  And for them to maximize

       4      their profit, they need to be able to take advantage

       5      of that short window.

       6             So, as such, you're going to need more labor,

       7      and more labor hours, during the production season,

       8      compared to the off-season.  And, you're going to

       9      need to be able to take advantage of things like

      10      good weather, and you're going to need to have more

      11      labor and longer hours during those periods of time.

      12             And as the counterpart, you will need fewer

      13      hours and less labor in poor weather.

      14             So the timing and labor that's needed for

      15      agricultural producers is going to be really

      16      affected by a lot of things that they can't control.

      17             Weather is the biggest example, of course.

      18             You know, for example, in a vineyard, if you

      19      have your crop that's ready to be harvested, and

      20      there's a terrible, heavy rainstorm predicted to

      21      come, you need to get all those grapes off the vines

      22      in a very short window before that rain starts, or

      23      you're facing a potential loss of your entire crop.

      24             Same thing, if the fields are wet and you

      25      can't bring your equipment into the field.


       1             Where you might have had a task you could

       2      have spread out over the course of, say, three or

       3      four days, but if it's been raining, you know you

       4      have a two-day window, and you know more rain is

       5      coming, you really have to take advantage and

       6      condense the work into a short time span.

       7             Just a few points about some of our

       8      vegetables on Long Island.

       9             They're pretty much exclusively fresh market.

      10      We don't generally grow vegetables for processing.

      11             The one exception to that is, some local

      12      product is put into local value-added products;

      13      jams, jellies, pickles, things like that.

      14             So, for fresh market, it's a little different

      15      from processing.

      16             It tends to be, you're growing many different

      17      varieties and many different things, so that means

      18      it's harder to mechanize, and things like that.

      19             Fresh market needs to be harvested when

      20      they're ready.  They're -- you're not always able to

      21      pick early and store like you can for some other

      22      processing.  And it requires some very careful

      23      handling on -- because the quality demands are

      24      really high by the customers.

      25             So it means, ultimately, that there's a


       1      higher labor demand on these smaller farms.

       2             One of the other things, and this is very

       3      weather-related also, is, you know, sometimes

       4      there's other things like disease that will put

       5      pressure on the timing of harvest.

       6             For example, one of the best management

       7      practices that our association has for things like

       8      phytophthora blight, pardon, on winter squash, is

       9      that, if you know some rainy weather is coming and

      10      the crop is ready, that you need to pick it and

      11      remove it out of the field, or you're facing a

      12      potential loss to a disease.

      13             So a lot of times you might need to shorten

      14      that harvest window and get everything done really

      15      quick to stave off some dis -- you know, loss from

      16      things like diseases.

      17             A similar example would be late blight on

      18      tomato.  If you have weather conditions that are

      19      appropriate for the disease to develop and spread,

      20      this disease can spread very rapidly.

      21             You would want to harvest as many tomatoes as

      22      you can before the disease wipes them out, so that

      23      you don't incur -- you know, so you can reduce the

      24      losses that you would incur.

      25             I just want to take a short moment to point


       1      out that, mostly I've been discussing thus far

       2      things that are obviously perishable, like

       3      vegetables.

       4             But I also wanted to point out that our local

       5      ornamentals are also affected by seasonality.

       6             Sometimes there's -- you know, the gardening

       7      season of when you can plant plants, and when plants

       8      are demanded, is very short.  So that means a lot of

       9      work has to get done in a short amount of time.

      10             Poinsettia is a good example of something

      11      that you really can't sell in October, and no one

      12      really wants it in January.  So you really have a

      13      short four- to six-week window where you need to

      14      pack and ship it.

      15             So, things like ornamentals that may not

      16      obviously have a shelf life compared to, let's say,

      17      tomato, are also affected by things like

      18      seasonality, and things like holidays.

      19             On numerous surveys done in various trade

      20      magazines, many associations, labor availability and

      21      cost are routinely listed as one of the major

      22      challenges for local producers.

      23             And I'm just going to share some the

      24      information on some of stats about labor and labor

      25      use on Long Island industry.


       1             So this is information that a study had put

       2      together about labor share for different type of,

       3      you know, agricultural sector.

       4             And if you look, the types of crops we grow

       5      on Long Island have a heavier labor demand than the

       6      crops that aren't as common here, just by the nature

       7      of how the crop is grown and what labor is needed

       8      for.

       9             When you look at the ag census that just came

      10      out, you can take away a couple of things from this

      11      chart, is, one, that you're average total

      12      farm-production expenses is considerably higher in

      13      Suffolk than the average in New York State, and

      14      that's for many various reasons.

      15             It's Long Island, pretty much everything is

      16      more expensive here.

      17             But, when you look at the percent share of

      18      your labor payroll compared to your total farm

      19      expenses, it is considerably higher in Suffolk than

      20      New York State.

      21             The last slide I showed you, some of that's

      22      reflected of the types of industry we have here,

      23      the types of agriculture we have here, because it

      24      does require a higher amount of labor compared to

      25      other parts of the state.  And some of that, no


       1      doubt, is due to the cost of operations here in

       2      Suffolk County.

       3             Let's see.

       4             On to just a snapshot of the type of labor

       5      statistics here for Suffolk County:

       6             Looking at the number of farms and the number

       7      of workers, comparing those hired for short-season

       8      work, those hired for longer than 150 days, as well

       9      as migrant label -- labor, pardon me.

      10             And then just another comparison is the

      11      number of workers per farm, to give you a snapshot

      12      of the type of agricultural need that we need here

      13      on Long Island.

      14             All right, moving on, just a couple more


      16             Growers, you know, as labor has been

      17      consistent as being one of their largest issues and

      18      largest expenses here on Long Island, they're

      19      constantly looking at ways to try to address this.

      20             One of the ways to address this is

      21      mechanization; however, you have to keep in mind

      22      that this technology is not available for all crops,

      23      nor all tasks.

      24             In many cases, this will be too costly for

      25      many of the smaller growers or folks that have, you


       1      know, a much -- a highly diversified crop.  It's

       2      really too costly for that capital investment.

       3             And it does reduce, but it does, in no way,

       4      eliminate the need for labor.

       5             And some industries have been able to adapt

       6      to that, and some have not.

       7             One of the other ways folks have tried to

       8      address some labor challenges in finding labor, is

       9      they seek other sources of labor.

      10             Predominantly, we've seen a great increase in

      11      the use of the H2A, the temporary seasonal worker

      12      visa, over the past 10 years.  And that's one other

      13      way that folks have attempted to address that.

      14             So it's been a very broad overview that I've

      15      given you.

      16             I'm happy to try to address any questions

      17      that you have.

      18             Before I do that, I do want to just put an

      19      open invite out there that, after today, if you have

      20      any other questions, I encourage you to contact me,

      21      and I can find information that you need or answer

      22      your questions.

      23             I also invite you to come out and visit our

      24      research facility in Riverhead.

      25             And, also, there's plenty of other research


       1      facilities around New York State as well if you're

       2      not here on Long Island.  And I'd be happy to put

       3      you in touch with any of my colleagues at those

       4      other locations.

       5             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you; thank you so

       6      much for that presentation.

       7             I know that some of my colleagues are asking

       8      for the presentation to be submitted.

       9             NORA CATLIN:  I can e-mail it to you, and

      10      I have one copy right now.

      11             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Perfect.

      12             If you can submit it, we will get you our

      13      e-mails, and if you could forward that over to us,

      14      that would be great.

      15             Okay?

      16             I don't think we have any --

      17             SENATOR RIVERA:  (Raises his hand.)

      18             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  -- we do?

      19             Yes, Senator Gustavo -- Rivera.  Sorry.

      20             SENATOR RIVERA:  Could you tell us again,

      21      that there was a point in your presentation that you

      22      said that the -- that the cost associated with

      23      farming in Long Island was higher than the rest of

      24      the state?

      25             NORA CATLIN:  Uh-huh.


       1             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Could you tell us again

       2      what that percentage is?

       3             And, again, your -- some of the explanations

       4      that you have for why that is the case?

       5             NORA CATLIN:  I think it's just generally

       6      expensive here.

       7             So that would be the one takeaway point, is

       8      that it's just higher cost of most everything.

       9             The other thing is that, if you look at the

      10      labor expenses as a percent of total expenses, it's

      11      much more expensive here on Long Island than

      12      elsewhere.  In part, that could be just for the

      13      labor-availability demand.

      14             But it's also the labor need, so that we have

      15      a much greater need for labor for the types of crops

      16      that we have here.  So then your labor expenses will

      17      be higher.

      18             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      19             Any other questions?

      20             All right.

      21             So thank you so much for being here and for

      22      presenting.

      23             Also, we were joined by Assemblywoman

      24      Cathy Nolan.  She is the Assembly person who is

      25      carrying this bill on the Assembly side, and that


       1      number is A2750.

       2             Thank you for coming out here and being part

       3      of this discussion and hearing.

       4             Okay, we will continue with our agenda.

       5             We have two elected officials who would like

       6      to speak before us.

       7             We will have John Marafino come up first,

       8      representing Supervisor Smith from the town of

       9      Riverhead;

      10             Followed by Legislator Al Krupski.

      11             JOHN MARAFINO:  Good afternoon.

      12             Thank you, Senator Martinez.

      13             I just want to introduce myself.

      14             My name is John Marafino.  I'm the chief of

      15      staff to the Riverhead Town Supervisor.

      16             I'm here to read a statement into the

      17      record on behalf of Riverhead Town Supervisor

      18      Laura Jens-Smith.

      19             So the supervisor would like to state:

      20             She is not in support of current Senate

      21      Bill S2837 and Assembly Bill A2750, due to the

      22      damaging impact it would have on our agriculture

      23      community on the North Fork.

      24             The legislation would be an added burden to

      25      our small family farms that have been passed down


       1      from generation to generation for years.

       2             These families are already facing many

       3      challenges on their farms due to high costs of

       4      operating on Long Island, as you just heard,

       5      competing with out-of-state pricing, and getting

       6      their product to market.

       7             This would make these already-struggling

       8      family farms less competitive than other farming

       9      regions where they're not facing the same high and

      10      ever-increasing costs.

      11             This legislation has the possibility to

      12      completely devastate the North Fork's fragile

      13      farming industry.

      14             It is unfortunate that it was decided to have

      15      this meeting at this location far away from our

      16      farmers, but, you know, we're very excited to hear

      17      you're considering coming out to Riverhead, we

      18      welcome you.

      19             And we would like to emphasize how important

      20      it is to protect our farming community on the east

      21      end, as it is an important component to the beauty

      22      of New York State.

      23             Our identity is tied to our rural character

      24      and intrinsically a part of our rural farms.

      25             So, please, do not harm our identity by


       1      moving forward with this legislation in its current

       2      form.

       3             It could have long-term disastrous effects on

       4      our struggling farmers who are in Riverhead, and

       5      what the entire east end of Long Island is about.

       6             Thank you.

       7             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

       8             And please send our regards to

       9      Supervisor Smith.

      10             And, also, I just want to make sure that it

      11      is clear, we will talk about future hearings, if

      12      necessary.

      13             But I do appreciate you coming out here

      14      because, obviously, we want to hear from all.

      15             If they were unable to come today, please let

      16      them know that they are able to submit their

      17      comments via a written statement.  And I will

      18      provide that in a few minutes where they can send it

      19      to.

      20             But, you know, I support it, but I have to

      21      make sure that the rest of my colleagues support

      22      going over to Riverhead.

      23             All right, we now have Legislator Al Krupski.

      24             AL KRUPSKI:  Good afternoon.

      25             And I want to thank Senator Martinez, you


       1      know, for coming out here and for bringing your

       2      colleagues.

       3             I'm going to echo what Supervisor Smith said,

       4      and invite everyone to come to Riverhead.

       5             The county seat of Suffolk County is actually

       6      in Riverhead, and it would be more appropriate to

       7      have the -- this available to people in Riverhead.

       8             If you look at -- I represent the

       9      1st District, which is all of Southold town, from

      10      Fisher's Island, all the way out to all of Riverhead

      11      and eastern Brookhaven.

      12             And there's still a lot of agriculture.

      13             Our communities have spent a great deal of

      14      time and money trying to preserve agriculture, not

      15      only the farmland, but also agriculture itself.

      16             As you heard from Dr. Catlin,

      17      Suffolk County has a long history in agriculture, so

      18      much so that the seal of the legislature, behind you

      19      on the wall, is a plow.  And the seal of

      20      Suffolk County is a bull.

      21             And those are really the strongest

      22      agricultural symbols as you can get.

      23             So, you know, I want to thank, you know,

      24      Monica for coming out here.  I've worked with her

      25      for years.  As a legislator she sat right over


       1      here (indicating).

       2             And, you know, we didn't always agree on

       3      everything, but you were always very good to work

       4      with because you were very respectful and you

       5      listened to everybody.

       6             And I told people that -- who were coming to

       7      the meeting today that they could take confidence in

       8      that, that you would always listen to both sides of

       9      every issue, and make an informed decision.

      10             And that's why I think it would be better if

      11      everybody came out and, I think, got a little more

      12      familiar with the agriculture in Suffolk County.

      13             I'm -- so I'm a county legislator, this is my

      14      seventh year, but I'm also a fourth-generation

      15      farmer.  So I know very well the labor issues.

      16             I could tell stories all afternoon about the

      17      different experiences, working on the farm, working

      18      alongside all the people that we have hired, but

      19      I don't have, certainly, all afternoon to do that.

      20             There are some downsides to this legislation.

      21             And there is a lot of -- so my wife, Mary,

      22      does all the paperwork and bookkeeping for the farm.

      23             And adding any more -- she and I have had a

      24      lot of discussion about this, because we have a

      25      family farm, like most of these farmers that you'll


       1      hear from today.

       2             And when you put more regulation and more

       3      bookkeeping, that kind of burden on a family farm,

       4      it is a big stress.

       5             You know, we're not big corporations.  You

       6      can't just hire someone else to do the work.

       7             And that becomes a big stress for any

       8      operation.

       9             What you're at risk here, if you lose more

      10      farms:

      11             Right now we've got this great fertile soil

      12      on Long Island.  We've got a great climate.

      13             People talk a lot about climate change.

      14             Someone -- a professor from Cornell came out

      15      to speak to the farm bureau a few years ago about

      16      climate change.

      17             And they said, you know, in the northeast --

      18      and this is when California was burning, and Texas

      19      had those really historic droughts, and the

      20      breadbasket of our country was really -- was really

      21      hurting, you know, without rainfall.

      22             And people started to take food production

      23      I think a lot more seriously when you -- because it

      24      is a matter of real national security.

      25             That on Long Island you've got millions of


       1      people.

       2             And if you look at the -- you know, the

       3      opportunity to have a market for fresh food, and you

       4      think about the big carbon footprint, when something

       5      is picked somewhere else, refrigerated and stored

       6      somewhere else, shipped across the country or around

       7      the world, stored and refrigerated here, and then

       8      sold, that produce does not have the nutritional

       9      value that it could have if it were harvested --

      10      grown and harvested locally.

      11             Plus, you have the environmental controls

      12      that you have here, and you know who grew it, and

      13      it's usually, you know, a lot of times, people know

      14      the growers.

      15             So you have that assurance about the food

      16      security and the nutritional value that you're

      17      eating.

      18             And I think that shouldn't be lost here.

      19             And, finally, I was at the town hall the

      20      other day, the Town of Southold did pass a

      21      resolution opposing these new measures.

      22             And the -- you talk about farm labor, the

      23      supervisor in Southold used to work for my parents,

      24      when I was away at college, on the farm.  He and his

      25      brother both worked for my parents.


       1             So there's a lot of history of people working

       2      on local farms and benefiting from that, and I think

       3      that shouldn't be lost here either.

       4             So thank you for having this here, and I'm

       5      sure you will hear a lot of interesting thoughts

       6      today.

       7             And we look forward to seeing you in

       8      Riverhead.

       9             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      10             Legislator Krupski, it's always a pleasure

      11      seeing you.

      12             We will continue with our agenda.

      13             And, again, I just want to thank Nora from

      14      Cornell Cooperative Extension who gave that

      15      presentation on the history and the impact of

      16      farming, and the agriculture industry here on

      17      Long Island.

      18             We will now move into our expert testimony

      19      period, where organizations will be called up in

      20      alphabetical order, and allotted three minutes to

      21      address the panel.

      22             Following this, we will open it up to

      23      public-comment period.  Each speaker will also be

      24      allotted three minutes to address the panel as well,

      25      and it will be done on first come, first serve


       1      basis.

       2             I know that you were given a card out in the

       3      front.

       4             If you do need a card, please raise your hand

       5      if you are going to make a comment, and my team will

       6      provide you with a card.

       7             Also, if you have not submitted a

       8      public-comment card, like I said, please visit our

       9      desk outside in order to do so.

      10             Our hearing today will end at 5:30, or, if we

      11      do have to go a little longer, we will.

      12             But those who aren't able to address the

      13      panel today, you can do so via written comment, up

      14      until the end of day, which is May -- on May 3,

      15      2019, by e-mail at,

      16      or by written mail postcard -- postmarked by

      17      May the 3rd, to my district office, which you can

      18      also get the address from my team.

      19             It will also be at the bottom of the address

      20      card, I believe, of the comment card.

      21             Okay, so, this is a very important issue for

      22      everybody, this is the reason why we're having this

      23      hearing.

      24             We want to hear from all stakeholders; we

      25      want to hear from the farmers, from workers, from


       1      organizations.

       2             This is your time to address the panel.

       3             This is your time to let us know how you feel

       4      about this bill.

       5             This is your time to let us know what we, as

       6      policymakers, can do to better what we have in

       7      possession right now, if needed.

       8             Please know that every single one of you has

       9      a different viewpoint, and the most important thing

      10      of a hearing is to respect each other's viewpoint.

      11             This is something that will go a long way

      12      when you show that respect to one another.

      13             And I do hope that we can keep that decorum

      14      in this building.

      15             And, please feel free to contact any of us at

      16      the end of this hearing if you have any further

      17      questions and/or comments.

      18             We will now begin.

      19             Ross, if you could start bringing the first

      20      person up.

      21             ROSS SLOTNICK:  First we have

      22      Professor Maggie Gray from Adelphi University.

      23             MARGARET GRAY:  Thank you so much for the

      24      opportunity to be here today.

      25             My name is Maggie Gray.  I'm an associate


       1      professor of political science at Adelphi University

       2      here on Long Island, and I've been studying New York

       3      farmworkers and agriculture for the past 19 years.

       4             I want to start with a thank-you for

       5      Dr. Catlin from Cooperative Extension for her very

       6      professional and informative presentation.

       7             We learned about crops, labor demand, and

       8      some of the implications for this for farmers

       9      themselves.

      10             But putting on my professorial hat, I would

      11      ask my students, What was missing there?

      12             And we didn't really get any perspective from

      13      farmworkers in that presentation.

      14             And I just want to point that out, because

      15      that was presented as an overview of agriculture,

      16      and I think that's a glaring absence.

      17             As committee members, I'm sure you find the

      18      labor rights' side of this argument very compelling,

      19      yet I know that's not the issue before us today.

      20             The question is:  How might this bill affect

      21      New York's farms?

      22             I've interviewed many farmers in the past

      23      19 years.

      24             I know there are many of you in the room.

      25             And I just want to say, I know our farmers


       1      are incredibly intelligent, savvy, and innovative

       2      business people.

       3             And today's farmers have been transforming

       4      their practices in order to survive and prosper, and

       5      this dates back to the 1820s when the Erie Canal

       6      opened and flooded the New York market with wheat,

       7      causing farmers to reimagine their practices.

       8             So, how are farmers' expenses expected to

       9      change if this passes?

      10             Farm Credit East put out a report, with the

      11      claim, looking at increased labor costs, of

      12      $299 million.

      13             The Farm Bureau has repeated this claim,

      14      saying it's a 17 percent increase in labor costs.

      15             So, there's some basic math issues here that

      16      I'd like to point out, and that the Farm Bureau is

      17      conflating two different numbers all together.

      18             That 299 million would represent a 44 percent

      19      increase in agricultural-wage expenses, but, this is

      20      not about overtime pay.

      21             That number takes into consideration three

      22      different factors:

      23             One, is a prediction of a forecasted increase

      24      in the agricultural wage.

      25             Such a prediction would not be in place if


       1      there were no overtime protections.

       2             If overtime protections were in place, that

       3      prediction would be off.

       4             Second, they're comparing the minimum wage

       5      right now to the minimum wage in two years.

       6             And I have a final one, but I'm conscious of

       7      time.

       8             So let's look at a scenario.  I'm very

       9      conscious that farmers are concerned.

      10             For a farmworker being paid minimum wage and

      11      working 72 hours a week, their pay, in 2021, when

      12      the wage goes up to 12.50, will be $900.

      13             If overtime were set at 55 hours a week,

      14      their pay would increase 12 percent.

      15             I think that the current bill, we all know

      16      that this will not pass with a 40 hours a week on

      17      fruit and vegetable farms.  Most workers put in

      18      fewer than 50 hours a week.  So if overtime kicks in

      19      at 55, they will not be affected.

      20             More important, the Farm Credit East report

      21      and the Farm Bureau tells us again and again that

      22      the average farmworker wage in New York State is

      23      more than $14 an hour.

      24             For farmers paying anywhere near $14 an hour,

      25      or above the minimum wage, I just want to tell you,


       1      you won't have labor increases.

       2             Economists have pointed out, there's

       3      something called the "fixed job model."

       4             And if you're paying higher than the minimum

       5      wage, you have flexibility to lower the minimum wage

       6      in order to make room for overtime pay, and this is

       7      what will happen.

       8             At the end of the day, farmers -- farmworkers

       9      want to know they're making the same pay that they

      10      made the year before.

      11             In addition, there are plenty of benefits, as

      12      the Farm Bureau points out: free housing, heat,

      13      electric, sometimes satellite TV, transportation.

      14             All of this could shift, to allow farmers to

      15      compensate for overtime pay were it to kick in.

      16             I know one farmer who saved $12,000 a year by

      17      charging for heat instead of covering that expense.

      18             Finally, I just want to talk about the

      19      benefits to this.

      20             I think that we're all aware that, with the

      21      food movement taking off, there are a lot of

      22      conscientious consumers who would be attracted to a

      23      market that New York has the strongest labor laws in

      24      the northeast, and that would be a selling point.

      25             I think we also should keep in mind about


       1      the -- we talk about the multiplier effect of farms,

       2      and we often think about this in terms of the

       3      veterinarians and the tractor repairs and the other

       4      service providers.

       5             But the majority of New York State

       6      farmworkers live in the state, and there would be a

       7      multiplier effect from their income increasing as

       8      well.

       9             Finally, New York farmworkers are part of the

      10      community, they're part of the sustainability.

      11             And, unfortunately, because so many of them

      12      are new arrivals, it means they didn't have a chance

      13      to grow up working close with your parents and

      14      forming those networks and relationships.

      15             And I just want to say, I'm a political

      16      scientist.  Right?  I study power, and I understand

      17      how power works.

      18             And we're talking about a largely

      19      undocumented workforce here that's not showing up at

      20      the election poll -- election booths.  They're not

      21      making political donations.

      22             So you, Senators, you have a heavy burden on

      23      you to consider some of the more vulnerable of

      24      New York State population.

      25             Thank you.


       1             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, Ms. Gray.

       2             And thank you for being cognizant of the

       3      time.

       4             And, look, if you are not wrapping up within

       5      the three minutes, obviously, please don't feel

       6      rushed.  I just want to make sure that we do hear

       7      you out.  All right?

       8             But please be cognizant.  We do have a long

       9      list of people who would like to comment.

      10             So thank you, Miss Gray, for your testimony,

      11      and we will bring up the next speaker.

      12             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Next we have Amanda Merrow

      13      from Amber Waves Farm.

      14             And on deck, we have Alexander Balsam from

      15      Balsam Farms.

      16             AMANDA MERROW:  Hello.  Thank you for having

      17      me, and for having this hearing today.

      18             My name is Amanda Merrow.  I co-founded

      19      Amber Waves Farm in 2009 with my partner,

      20      Katie Baldwin, as a 501(c)(3) community educational

      21      farm, where our mission is to educate people about

      22      food and farming.

      23             In addition to a variety of educational

      24      programs that we offer to children and families, and

      25      aspiring farmers through our apprenticeship program,


       1      we're also a production operation.

       2             We lease and own a total of 25 acres on

       3      3 properties in East Hampton, in Amagansett, where

       4      we produce 350 varieties of 60 crops for our CSA

       5      program, our on-farm market, and an off-site

       6      farmers' market as well.

       7             Our farm staff includes paid apprentices who

       8      are paid for both their time working and learning,

       9      farm managers, and part-time summer help.

      10             As required by law, our employees are

      11      protected by our workers' compensation and

      12      disability insurance, and the farm contributes to

      13      unemployment insurance and all other required state

      14      and federal withholdings.

      15             All of our employees are presented with a

      16      work agreement at the start of the season, outlining

      17      their job description, the farm's expectations of

      18      their work, and their compensation package.

      19             All of our employees are offered a day of

      20      rest each week, and can -- and are welcome to

      21      schedule additional personal days as needed.

      22             One of our greatest challenges in eastern

      23      Long Island, and I think this speaks for the whole

      24      island, is access to housing.

      25             The farm attempts to alleviate this stress


       1      and expense on behalf of our workers by taking on

       2      leases for multiple residential properties that we

       3      offer at a subsidized rate to our farmworkers.

       4             In 2018, the subsidy that we provided to our

       5      workers was $25,000.

       6             And, in 2019, as rental rates continued to

       7      increase, we think that that number is probably

       8      going to be closer to $40,000 this year.

       9             Agricultural work is physically, mentally,

      10      and emotionally hard.

      11             And the people on our team, and on farms

      12      across the state, are motivated, conscientious,

      13      intelligent individuals who are driven by the

      14      challenge of the work.

      15             They're more than just our staff.  They're

      16      part of our extended family, and we rely on each

      17      other to get through the season.

      18             This line of work is certainly not for

      19      everyone, but for those who choose to pursue careers

      20      in agriculture, they're comfortable with the extreme

      21      seasonal swings of intensity that are dictated by

      22      the weather and the growing season.

      23             Agriculture is inherently risky, and farm

      24      owners and operators may walk away empty-handed

      25      after particularly challenging seasons, such as the


       1      one that we had last year.

       2             Most farms, particularly in New York State,

       3      are not corporate empires with huge profits, and the

       4      difference in compensation between farm

       5      owner-operators and farmworkers is not vast.

       6             The change -- a change in

       7      overtime-compensation requirements on farms will

       8      have outcomes that aren't necessarily beneficial to

       9      workers, including a reduction in base wages,

      10      particularly for skilled agricultural workers who

      11      are already making well above minimum wage, as well

      12      as a cut in available work hours for those who

      13      depend on long workweeks, to save, to take time off

      14      in the off-season, or a disappearance of other

      15      benefits like the ones I described, including

      16      subsidized or free housing.

      17             As financial pressures on farms continue to

      18      increase, I worry about the future viability of

      19      agriculture.

      20             I'm not from a farming family.

      21             I built my farm with my partner over the last

      22      10 years.  We have made considerable investments in

      23      investing in future farmers of America through our

      24      training program, and that component of our work is

      25      integral to our mission.


       1             And it's our hope that the industry and this

       2      honorable profession can survive and thrive for the

       3      coming generations.

       4             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, Ms. Merrow.

       5             I don't know if my colleagues have any

       6      questions, but just let me know if you do so we may

       7      have that opportunity.

       8             Thank you.

       9             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Next up we have is

      10      Alexander Balsam from Balsam Farms.

      11             On deck we have Patrick Young from CARECEN.

      12             ALEXANDER BALSAM:  Hi.  My name is

      13      Alex Balsam.  I'm the founder and co-owner of

      14      Balsam Farms in East Hampton.  I own the farm with

      15      Ian Piedmont (ph.), my college friend from Cornell.

      16             2019 marks our 17th year in business.

      17             Although it's been obvious from my earliest

      18      days that farming is in my blood, we didn't step

      19      into an existing family-farm operation.

      20             We didn't have a wealthy family member to

      21      cosign loans for us.

      22             We didn't have any family landholdings.

      23             I'm proud to say that we started the farm,

      24      literally, from the ground up, with $3500 of seed

      25      money to start the business and a short-term lease


       1      on 10 acres of land.

       2             Today we're farming over 100 acres, most of

       3      which is in vegetable production.

       4             My parents are social-studies teachers in

       5      Baldwin High School, so I come here today with an

       6      appreciation for unions and labor rights.

       7             Giving employees the option for a day of rest

       8      is appropriate.

       9             Also, the -- it's fair to note the existing

      10      exceptions in the current law for workers' comp

      11      coverage is very narrow.  Essentially, all

      12      farmworkers are already covered by workers' comp and

      13      unemployment.

      14             So this bill doesn't change much in that

      15      regard.

      16             But, for me, overtime provision -- the

      17      overtime -- the overtime provision of this bill

      18      would be devastating to my farm, and, in turn, would

      19      negatively impact our employees.

      20             In 2018 our farm's wages totaled well over a

      21      million dollars.

      22             If that number gets magnified by the proposed

      23      overtime provision, I'm done.  I'm telling you,

      24      I can't absorb the additional cost.

      25             Our average hourly rate for our field hands


       1      is already well above the pending $15 minimum wage.

       2             I'm proud to pay a strong wage to those who

       3      work alongside of us, but there are years that

       4      I don't put money in my own pocket, including last

       5      year.

       6             The bad weather, essentially, wiped away our

       7      opportunity for profit, but, there are employees on

       8      our farm who still got raises for this year.

       9             Many of our employees consistently have a

      10      larger salary than I take home from the farm.

      11             For many reasons, farming is really tough,

      12      it's really hard, but, producing food and being a

      13      steward of the land is incredibly rewarding.

      14             Our employees understand and appreciate the

      15      lifestyle and the dedication that is required.

      16             They take pride and satisfaction in their

      17      work which is a delight to see.

      18             Our workers do not have to be farmers.  They

      19      have many options here by us.

      20             For example, the wages for landscaping,

      21      hospitality, and construction are very strong.  And

      22      our farmers have to keep pace with that -- with what

      23      the other industries can offer.

      24             We often compete in -- for the same labor

      25      pool.


       1             On our farm, I think it's fair to say that

       2      every single employee, from our managers, to our

       3      farmhands, could readily find employment in another

       4      sector.  But, our employees are happy to work with

       5      us, and they're treated well.

       6             I also want to note that, look, most farmers

       7      don't have a big bank account.

       8             If you decide to be a farmer, you're

       9      sacrificing economic opportunity.  You can almost

      10      certainly make more money using your skill set in

      11      another industry.

      12             So, look, if overtime for farm labor does

      13      come to fruition, where is that money coming from?

      14             We can't raise our prices.

      15             We're price-takers.  We can't set our price.

      16             We don't have the means to dip into our

      17      pockets for an overtime wage.

      18             At the end of the day, this bill, as

      19      proposed, would cause many farms to shut down,

      20      including mine.

      21             Thank you.

      22             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, Mr. Balsam.

      23             We do have a couple of questions, if you

      24      don't mind?

      25             ALEXANDER BALSAM:  Absolutely.


       1             SENATOR METZGER:  Yes, thank you so much for

       2      your testimony.

       3             I just want to ask, how many farm laborers do

       4      you employ?

       5             ALEXANDER BALSAM:  Our total, this would

       6      include the people who work at our farm stand, we're

       7      about at 80 people, yeah.

       8             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay.

       9             And is --

      10             ALEXANDER BALSAM:  And that includes -- the

      11      numbers are skewed there because it's a lot of,

      12      like, high school kids who are -- who are, you know,

      13      again, working at the farm stand, and things like

      14      that, working very minimal hours each week.

      15             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay.

      16             ALEXANDER BALSAM:  So I tried to focus my

      17      numbers, really, on the -- I think, the segment

      18      that -- of the population that this bill is looking

      19      to protect.

      20             SENATOR METZGER:  Right.

      21             Is there a threshold in terms of hours that

      22      would work for your farm for overtime?

      23             ALEXANDER BALSAM:  No.

      24             To be clear, I mean, we -- we never -- you

      25      could come to us and say, I want to work one day a


       1      week.  You can come to us and say, I want to work

       2      seven days a week.

       3             Those -- don't get me wrong, those who want

       4      to work seven days a week, that might happen once or

       5      twice a year.

       6             But, generally, everyone wants at least one

       7      day of rest, which is great, and we would encourage

       8      that.

       9             But, again, I -- there's -- because -- if we

      10      had this -- if we had a threshold somewhere, and our

      11      employees wanted to work that seventh day, or those

      12      extra hours, we would have to say no.

      13             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      14             ALEXANDER BALSAM:  Thank you.

      15             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      16             Any other questions?

      17             Okay.

      18             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Up next is Patrick Young from

      19      CARECEN.

      20             And following him, we have

      21      Juan Antonio Zungia.

      22             PATRICK YOUNG:  My name is Patrick Young.

      23      I'm an attorney with the Central American Refugee

      24      Center (CARECEN).  We're located in Hempstead and

      25      Brentwood.


       1             I'm also a special professor of immigration

       2      law at Hofstra University School of Law.

       3             CARECEN is a non-profit legal-services agency

       4      that has advocated for protections for farmworkers

       5      for two decades, unsuccessfully, unfortunately.

       6             Farmworkers form an important part of the

       7      immigrant community here on Long Island, and yet

       8      their voices are not really heard.

       9             I mean, we even heard from a town supervisor

      10      who I don't think mentioned the farmworkers in her

      11      presentation on agriculture in her town.

      12             They're not only important for the county's

      13      nutrition, but they're also important, as we heard

      14      from Cornell, for tourism.

      15             The work that they do is as vital to the

      16      creation of a vibrant agricultural section on

      17      Long Island as the farm owners.  And, often, it's a

      18      multi-generational.

      19             But what we also know, is that many of the

      20      farmworkers here on Long Island are immigrants.

      21             Nationally, over half of all farmworkers are

      22      undocumented immigrants.

      23             And given the -- both the difficulties that

      24      farmworkers labor under, and the particular

      25      circumstances that we're seeing now during the


       1      Trump Administration, it's extremely important that

       2      New York State step in to make sure that the rights

       3      of farmworkers are carefully protected.

       4             You know, I do not doubt that most farmers

       5      value the lives and the work that's done by the

       6      workers on their farms.

       7             But as we know, over the last two years,

       8      increasingly, immigrants have gone underground

       9      rather than risk going to federal agencies in order

      10      to seek protections.

      11             We know that they're not going to the police

      12      departments.

      13             We've seen declines nationally in the number

      14      of immigrant women going for protection to the

      15      police from domestic violence.

      16             And we certainly also know that, under these

      17      types of circumstances, we have seen in the past,

      18      when farmers begin to exploit farmworkers in ways

      19      that they might not have done in earlier years, that

      20      the farmworkers are less and less likely to seek

      21      assistance, particularly from federal agencies, or

      22      even from some local agencies, that they may see as

      23      in alliance with their employers.

      24             So we would ask that this legislation be

      25      passed.


       1             You know, we certainly believe it should be

       2      done in consultation with farm owners.

       3             But we would like this legislation to be

       4      passed because we think it's important that the

       5      rights of these workers be protected at a time when

       6      they're at their most vulnerable.

       7             You know, I would echo the sentiment of the

       8      last speaker.

       9             You know, I was at Easter vigil on Saturday

      10      night, and two-thirds of the people at the Easter

      11      vigil were Latinos, some of them who were

      12      farmworkers.

      13             And to think that anyone could be denied the

      14      right to go to church, the right to be with their

      15      communities one day a week, it's very painful for me

      16      to think.

      17             So I hope the State Senate will take this

      18      legislation up.

      19             Thank you.

      20             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, Patrick.

      21             There is -- Patrick, sorry, we do have a

      22      question for you.

      23             Senator Stavisky.

      24             SENATOR STAVISKY:  Yes.

      25             Have -- in your experience, are -- I have a


       1      number -- all the same question, really, different

       2      variations.

       3             Do you find that they are able to organize

       4      and bargain collectively?

       5             And do the farmworkers, in your experience,

       6      have opportunities for health care, for workers'

       7      comp, and other benefits that are available to

       8      people who are documented?

       9             PATRICK YOUNG:  You know, in the experience

      10      that we've had, I mean, there's very limited access

      11      to health care.

      12             I am not an expert on their right to

      13      organize.

      14             And I know we have Roger Clayman from the

      15      federation of labor, I know we have a speaker from

      16      Rural Migrant Ministries.  And they would be better

      17      equipped than I am to answer those questions.

      18             SENATOR STAVISKY:  And you are suggesting

      19      that they're working six days a week?

      20             PATRICK YOUNG:  Yeah, in many cases they are

      21      working six days a week.

      22             You know, and, again, I'm not suggesting that

      23      most farmers are abusive in their relations.

      24             But we do know that, in other workers'

      25      conditions, as well as in situations of housing,


       1      et cetera, that, in other sectors, we've seen

       2      increased discrimination, increased exploitation,

       3      over the last two years.

       4             And I think it's important for the State --

       5      this is one of the least regulated aspects of labor

       6      in the state because of the decision during the

       7      Jim Crow Era to exempt, you know, I think at the

       8      time, largely, African-American laborers, from the

       9      protections that were offered to almost every other

      10      worker.

      11             I mean, the workers -- the protections that

      12      are being asked here are largely the protections

      13      that were won by other sectors of labor under

      14      The Wagner Act, under The National Labor Relations

      15      Act, in the 1930s.

      16             You know, Bob Wagner, when was he mayor of

      17      New York City?  1950s.

      18             He had been a congressman in the 1920s,

      19      along with Al Smith.

      20             OFF-CAMERA SENATOR:  (Inaudible.)

      21             PATRICK YOUNG:  Okay, it was his father.

      22      Okay.

      23             You know your history much better than I.

      24             Thank you.

      25             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  I'm sorry, Mr. Young, you


       1      have an additional question from Senator Savino.

       2             PATRICK YOUNG:  I'm sorry.

       3             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

       4             Thank you.

       5             I'm just -- I'm curious, because you said

       6      that, if the passage of this bill is critically

       7      important to protect these -- particularly the

       8      undocumented.

       9             But I'm not sure, right now, there are

      10      undocumented workers who are working in occupations

      11      that do have the right to organize, that are -- that

      12      aren't in this gray area here, and they're still

      13      vulnerable to the vicissitudes of a federal

      14      government that might seek to prosecute them or to

      15      go after them.

      16             So I'm not sure if I agree with your

      17      assertion that this would protect them.

      18             Not to negate the fact that I think we need

      19      to do things to protect all the workers --

      20             PATRICK YOUNG:  Well, I think it would

      21      provide additional protections, because you would

      22      have the State of New York providing those

      23      protections.

      24             SENATOR SAVINO:  But if you're an

      25      undocumented worker working in the construction


       1      industry --

       2             PATRICK YOUNG:  Uh-huh?

       3             SENATOR SAVINO:  Being labeled "an employee,"

       4      because that's, essentially, the difference.

       5             If you're a farmworker, or, now in New York

       6      if you're a domestic worker, you are an employee.

       7             But if you're a farmworker in New York State,

       8      you are not an employee under the labor law, which

       9      is what prevents you from being covered by all of

      10      the other laws that everyone else that's an employee

      11      is.

      12             PATRICK YOUNG:  Right.

      13             SENATOR SAVINO:  So all I'm suggesting,

      14      though, is that we have a lot of people who are --

      15      who do not have legal resident status, but who are

      16      "employees" under labor law, and they are still at

      17      risk from a federal government that would seek to

      18      treat them unfairly.

      19             So I don't think that -- I think -- I just

      20      want to --

      21             PATRICK YOUNG:  They're at risk from the

      22      federal government, we've seen --

      23             SENATOR SAVINO:  Yeah.

      24             PATRICK YOUNG:  -- and that's been the case

      25      since 1986.  I mean, that's not something that's


       1      brand new.

       2             But what we've been seeing over the last

       3      two years has been an increasing fear among

       4      immigrants, and undocumented immigrants, and not

       5      simply in the area of labor law, but in housing law

       6      and other areas of law.

       7             And that's why it's become particularly

       8      important for the states and localities to step in

       9      to provide the additional protections.

      10             So I think that's why this is particularly

      11      timely now.

      12             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

      13             PATRICK YOUNG:  Thank you.

      14             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      15             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, we have

      16      Juan Antonio Zungia, a farmworker.

      17             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Zungia (different

      18      pronunciation.)

      19             ROSS SLOTNICK:  My apologies.

      20             On deck we have Jeff Rottkamp from Fox Hollow

      21      Farms.

      22             Translating for Juan will be Denise Rivera

      23      from Senator Monica Martinez's Office.

      24             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  Buenas tardes.

      25             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Buenas tardes.


       1             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

       2             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  He says, "Thank

       3      you, and good afternoon."  And he just wants to

       4      introduce himself, his name.

       5             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

       6             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  His name is

       7      Juan Antonio Zungia.

       8             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

       9             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  He's from

      10      El Salvador.

      11             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

      12             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  He is an

      13      agricultural worker, also known as "a farmer."

      14             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

      15             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  He has worked

      16      in agricultural fields since 2006.

      17             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

      18             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  He says that he

      19      just wants to let you know that this working

      20      experience has been very difficult for him.  It

      21      hasn't been an easy job to partake.

      22             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

      23             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  At times, there

      24      are weeks where they work 70 hours per week.

      25             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)


       1             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  These are --

       2      long hours are needed to in order to tend to the

       3      agricultural needs that come up when working on

       4      agricultural land.

       5             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

       6             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  There's -- they

       7      need to spend a lot of time on the land in regards

       8      to production, taking care of planting seeds, of the

       9      weather that's also involved in, and any other needs

      10      for agricultural production.

      11             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

      12             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  We collaborate

      13      with the bosses who are in charge of these companies

      14      that take part in agricultural production, and we

      15      have to continue collaborating with them in order to

      16      do and make sure the work gets done.

      17             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

      18             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  It's difficult

      19      because, the amount of work they need in order to

      20      take care of the agricultural fields, takes them

      21      away from spending time with their family.  And they

      22      aren't really able to have any benefits from the

      23      company and provide for their children.

      24             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

      25             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  So a typical


       1      workday, they start as early as six in the morning,

       2      and they end as late as seven or eight at night.

       3             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

       4             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  Particularly

       5      for the mothers.

       6             So, if they start working at six, they have

       7      to drop off their children earlier to a babysitter.

       8             And after a workday, which he says, it ends

       9      at seven or eight, they have to pick up their

      10      children afterwards.

      11             And, obviously, it causes the mothers to

      12      spend little time with their family, especially with

      13      their children.

      14             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

      15             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  And although we

      16      are agricultural workers, we do not get the

      17      recognition needed, based on the amount of hours we

      18      put in, or we're not even protected, we don't have

      19      any laws that protect us, from the hard work that we

      20      do.

      21             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

      22             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  And it's for

      23      this reason that I'm here testifying before you.

      24             I've been working for 12 or 13 years as an

      25      agricultural worker, and I'm about to retire.


       1             And I hope that my words will affect you,

       2      and, hopefully, it will point out the benefit of

       3      this law for the future agricultural workers who

       4      would like to pursue this job, and for their

       5      families as well.

       6             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

       7             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  I am very

       8      grateful that you have taken the time to listen to

       9      my testimony, and I hope that it will impact and

      10      affect your decision in passing this law, that he --

      11      that I fully support for the benefit of future

      12      agricultural workers and their families.

      13             Thank you.

      14             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      15             Senior Zungia -- Zungia, Senior --

      16             Sorry, I went into my Spanish mode.

      17             -- Senator Rivera has a question for you.

      18             And I just want to say, thank you, Denise,

      19      that was good.

      20             I haven't heard you do that since you've been

      21      with me, but thank you for helping translate.

      22             Senator Rivera.

      23             SENATOR RIVERA:  (Asking question in Spanish,

      24      and translating answer to English.)

      25             I'll be translating, don't worry.


       1             (Asking question in Spanish, and translating

       2      answer to English.)

       3             I asked him what type of farming he does.

       4             He works in the -- in the -- in the

       5      ornamental --

       6             OFF-CAMERA SENATOR:  Horticulture.

       7             SENATOR RIVERA:  -- horticulture.

       8             Thank you.

       9             See, you have to go to the professional.

      10             (Asking question in Spanish, and translating

      11      answer to English.)

      12             Just asked him, like, does he travel to other

      13      parts of the country, other parts of the state?

      14             And, no, he travels -- he works on

      15      Long Island year-round, heat, cold, what have you.

      16             (Asking question in Spanish, and translating

      17      answer to English.)

      18             I asked him how much he earned last year.

      19             He said, $29,000 a year.

      20             (Asking question in Spanish, and translating

      21      answer to English.)

      22             I asked him, how is he going to -- if he's

      23      close to retirement, how he's going to take care of

      24      himself after he retires.

      25             He says he does not know.


       1             (Asking question in Spanish, and translating

       2      answer to English.)

       3             I asked him whether it's $29,000 a year with

       4      70-hour workweeks, et cetera?

       5             And he said yes.

       6             SENATOR SAVINO:  I'm not a math teacher, but

       7      that's way less than the minimum wage.

       8             SENATOR RIVERA:  That's your joke.

       9             I'm not going to take credit for your joke.

      10             SENATOR RAMOS:  (Asking question in Spanish,

      11      and translating answer to English.)

      12             So I asked him if the $29,000 salary included

      13      housing, and he says it includes everything:

      14      housing, medical costs, and everything that he has

      15      to provide for himself.

      16             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Any other questions?

      17             Okay, so we need to also be cognizant that we

      18      have people who are in the audience that do not

      19      understand Spanish.

      20             So if my colleagues who are speaking in

      21      English, if one of us can help translate, or,

      22      speaking in Spanish, help translate in English, so

      23      those who are in the audience can also benefit from

      24      what is being spoken here at the Legislature.

      25             Yes.


       1             SENATOR STAVISKY:  Quick question.

       2             You mentioned the children.

       3             Do they go to school locally?

       4             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Denise.

       5             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  (English to

       6      Spanish.)

       7             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

       8             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  He says his

       9      children work as farmers as well, and they have

      10      someone take their children, his grandchildren, to

      11      the bus.

      12             SENATOR STAVISKY:  But they do go to school,

      13      not just daycare, not just babysitting?

      14             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  (English to

      15      Spanish.)

      16             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

      17             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  Yes.

      18             SENATOR STAVISKY:  Good.

      19             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  And did we have any --

      20      Senator Metzger?

      21             SENATOR METZGER:  Are you comfortable sharing

      22      who your employer is?

      23             DENISE RIVERA (translating):  (English to

      24      Spanish.)

      25             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)


       1             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  So I think I -- I don't

       2      think that was meant purposefully, but it's

       3      employee, not owner.

       4             So, Senior, (speaking Spanish).

       5             JUAN ANTONIO ZUNGIA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

       6             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  No, he does not feel

       7      comfortable saying.

       8             Okay.  Gracias.

       9             ROSS SLOTNICK:  We now have Jeff Rottkamp,

      10      owner of Fox Hollows Farms.

      11             On deck, Karl Novak, general manager,

      12      Half Hollow Nursery.

      13             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Good afternoon.

      14             My name is Jeff Rottkamp.  I'm from

      15      Calverton, in Riverhead.

      16             And our family has been involved in

      17      agriculture since the early 1800s.

      18             And I would just like to say that I treat my

      19      help very, very well, and they have a beautiful home

      20      that I provide for them.

      21             I pay more than minimum wage.

      22             They can go to the clinic if they need health

      23      care, which they rarely ever do.

      24             And when we have crops on the farm, they're

      25      free to help themselves to whatever they would like.


       1             We grow asparagus, strawberries, sweet corn,

       2      tomatoes, melons, string beans, and they ask me if

       3      they can help themselves, and I tell them, yes, they

       4      can.

       5             They occasionally have some relatives from

       6      out of state visit them.  They also pick some of

       7      their own vegetables and put them in the trunk of

       8      their car and take them along, at my expense,

       9      because I'm grateful to have the help.

      10             I pay them well.

      11             I give them a nice place to live.

      12             I don't swear at them or cuss, nothing.

      13             I treat them just like family because, when

      14      you work seven days a week with someone, they're

      15      pretty much like family.

      16             And I'm not going to abuse my help for my own

      17      good.  I don't need to do that.

      18             I need them to produce so that I can be

      19      profitable, and it's getting tougher every single

      20      year.

      21             Our hands in agriculture always seem to be

      22      tied behind our back, whether it's markets, labor,

      23      rules, regulations, requirements, restrictions.

      24             It's getting out of hand.

      25             Every time I go to the mailbox, it's an


       1      increased fee for something.  It's another bill that

       2      never used to be.

       3             And we're getting to the point in agriculture

       4      where it's getting very, very tough to make a

       5      profit.

       6             And if we don't make a profit, the end is

       7      close.

       8             And I get kind of upset about it because I've

       9      been in this my whole life.  So was my

      10      great-grandfather.

      11             And we commute -- we commuted from Astoria,

      12      Queens, in Hicksville, Carle Place, to Riverhead.

      13             And believe me or not, that's the last place

      14      we can go, we're done.  If we have to leave here,

      15      it's over, because the cost of labor, fuel, school

      16      taxes, property taxes, everything under the sun,

      17      we're getting bombarded from every degree, every

      18      angle, that you can think of.

      19             And I give my men at least 55, 60 hours a

      20      week.  I pay them well.

      21             Like I said, they're entitled to free

      22      vegetables from the farm.

      23             At the end of the year, when they leave to go

      24      somewhere else, they always come and give me a

      25      handshake, pat on the back, "I want to come back


       1      next year."

       2             That's what I get from my help, and I'm

       3      grateful for that.

       4             And they're real good people, but I don't see

       5      where I'm going to be able to pay overtime.  It's

       6      just not going to be in the cards for me.

       7             And that's about all I have to say.

       8             And I hope we don't bite the hand that's

       9      feeding agriculture, because that's going to be a

      10      dangerous position.

      11             And right now, there's at least 50 percent of

      12      the food coming into this country is from overseas

      13      or other countries.

      14             And I don't know if I want to be in that

      15      position, to have 50 percent of what I eat from

      16      somewhere else.  That's dangerous.

      17             I think we better really do a lot of support

      18      of agriculture, and hope it stays around here for a

      19      long time, because it's dwindling.

      20             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Well, thank you, sir, for

      21      your testimony.

      22             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Thank you very much.

      23             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  We do have a couple of

      24      questions for you.

      25                [Applause.]


       1             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Senator Savino.

       2             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

       3             Mr. Rottkamp, don't go, don't go.

       4             Turn around, turn around.

       5             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Sir, you have a couple of

       6      questions.

       7             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

       8             I just have a couple of questions.

       9             Thank you for your testimony.

      10             I was born and raised in Astoria too.

      11             I just went in the opposite direction, I went

      12      to Staten Island.

      13             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Okay.

      14             SENATOR SAVINO:  Senator Ramos also.

      15             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  I'd rather go east, actually.

      16             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  I was curious, how -- you

      17      didn't mention how large your farm is.

      18             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  We far about 200 acres.

      19             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  200 acres.

      20             And how many -- how many employee do you

      21      have?

      22             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  It varies at certain times of

      23      the year.

      24             SENATOR SAVINO:  Uh-huh?

      25             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Right now I only have a few.


       1             But then when the harvest season begins to

       2      come upon us, I can go anywhere from 10, 12, to 14.

       3             Some of my help wants to work five days a

       4      week, some wants to work six.

       5             Some will work in the mornings.

       6             I have one lady that works for me in the

       7      morning, and then she works at Tango Mall in the

       8      afternoon, and she's thrilled, because she likes

       9      doing that.

      10             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  And you also said that, at

      11      the end of the season, a lot, they leave, they want

      12      to come back.

      13             How long is the period of time -- generally,

      14      how long do they stay working for you, during --

      15             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  I finish up, most times, by

      16      Halloween --

      17             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  And when do they start?

      18             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  -- maybe shortly after, but

      19      that's about it.

      20             SENATOR SAVINO:  So when do they start, when

      21      do they end?

      22             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  We will be starting with

      23      asparagus probably in about a week.

      24             SENATOR SAVINO:  Uh-huh?

      25             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  And, that, you have to pick


       1      every day because it grows so rapidly.

       2             But, like, on a Saturday or a Sunday, if they

       3      can finish picking half a day, then I give them the

       4      rest of the day off.

       5             And then we go into strawberries.

       6             Well, strawberries, you have to pick every

       7      single day.  It has to be in the morning when

       8      they're the freshest.

       9             So they enjoy doing that.

      10             It's peaceful work, it's quiet, it's not

      11      stressful, not -- not -- you know, you don't have to

      12      do a lot of heavy lifting, or anything like that.

      13             Then we go into green squash, yellow squash,

      14      cucumbers, sweet corn.

      15             We grow some sunflowers, string beans,

      16      rhubarb, a few other items.  And pumpkins for the

      17      fall.

      18             And they can -- you know, I can keep the help

      19      busy all daylong.

      20             I mean, I tell them, if they want to work,

      21      I got the work.

      22             Oh, yes, we want to work.  We'll come to

      23      work.  Yeah, we're coming to work.

      24             SENATOR SAVINO:  And the final question:

      25             You mentioned something about the cost of


       1      food, or, most of the food coming into New York

       2      comes from out of state.

       3             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Right.

       4             SENATOR SAVINO:  As you know, Hunts Point

       5      Terminal Market in the Bronx is the largest food

       6      redistribution center, I think, in the country.

       7             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  If my father continued to go

       8      to Hunts Point, I wouldn't be standing here.  He'd

       9      be broke.

      10             SENATOR SAVINO:  So one of the things

      11      we've -- I've toured Hunts Point a few times, and

      12      most of the produce that goes through Hunts Point is

      13      not grown in New York State.

      14             It's coming from Pennsylvania, New Jersey,

      15      and Connecticut, and other places.

      16             Do you move your products through

      17      Hunts Point?

      18             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Not anymore.  We gave it up,

      19      we had to.

      20             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

      21             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  We had to.

      22             Any other questions?

      23             SENATOR RIVERA:  Yes, sir.

      24             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Yes, Senator Rivera.

      25             SENATOR RIVERA:  Could you actually elaborate


       1      on that?

       2             You couldn't -- you said you were not moving

       3      your product through the Bronx anymore.

       4             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Probably about 20, 25 years

       5      ago, we sent in 50 boxes, half-bushel boxes, of

       6      squash.

       7             They gave us a dollar for a box.

       8             SENATOR RIVERA:  For each box?

       9             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Each box, when it should have

      10      been, probably eight, nine dollars.

      11             My father got the check in the mail, with the

      12      bill of lading, and he said to me, he says, We can't

      13      do this anymore or we're going broke.  We got to

      14      find another way.

      15             By the time we pay our taxes, pay our

      16      insurances, pay the labor, pay for the box, the

      17      seed, the fertilizer, the rent, the fuel, you have

      18      nothing left for yourself.

      19             You're out, you're done.

      20             So we had to do a different thing.

      21             SENATOR RIVERA:  And what did -- and could

      22      you tell us a little bit about what you're doing now

      23      that's different that --

      24             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  We're selling produce more to

      25      local farm stands and local markets.


       1             SENATOR RIVERA:  And one more question.

       2             You said you had 200 acres?

       3             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Yes.

       4             SENATOR RIVERA:  And there are about

       5      14 workers that you have?

       6             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Right.

       7             SENATOR RIVERA:  There was another --

       8      somebody speaking a little bit earlier, that talked

       9      about 100 acres, with a much, like, 80 employees or

      10      something, I don't recall exactly, a gentleman that

      11      spoke a little bit earlier.

      12             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Yes, I know the gentleman.

      13             SENATOR RIVERA:  So is that -- does that have

      14      to do, I guess, with the type of -- the type of

      15      farming --

      16             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  The type of crops he's

      17      growing is extremely labor-intensive.

      18             And he grows some crops that are organic, so

      19      there's probably lots and lots of weeding that has

      20      to be done by hand.

      21             And that's probably his biggest expense, of

      22      course, is labor, and mine also, because you can't

      23      let a crop compete against weeds, because you'll

      24      never get the crop.

      25             SENATOR RIVERA:  Thank you, sir.


       1             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Thank you.

       2             Any other questions?

       3             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Senator Metzger, just a

       4      follow-up.

       5             SENATOR METZGER:  You may have mentioned

       6      this.  I'm sorry, I stepped out.

       7             But do you participate in the H2A program?

       8      Or --

       9             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  I am trying that this year

      10      for the first time.

      11             I don't know how it's going to work.

      12             A few other fellows that I know have tried it

      13      for the last couple of years.  They say it's okay.

      14      It's nothing -- not a silver bullet, but, it's okay.

      15             And the other thing I would like to mention

      16      is that, I do house -- I have housing for enough for

      17      four to five men.

      18             It's in exceptional condition.  It's not like

      19      other people might think.

      20             The labor department comes in my yard two,

      21      three times a year.

      22             The Health Department comes in my yard, talks

      23      to the help.

      24             And I cannot be with that conversation, and

      25      I've never had an issue, ever, and I want to keep it


       1      that way.

       2             So, other people may think that a farmworker

       3      is being, I don't know if I should even use the

       4      word, but, discriminated against.

       5             No.  Not for me.

       6             And not for a lot of other folks either.

       7             Without labor we're out of business, so we

       8      have to take care of our labor.

       9             Thank you.

      10             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      11             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, sir.

      12             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Next we have Karl Novak of

      13      Half Hollow Nursery.

      14             On deck we have Randi Dresner of

      15      Island Harvest.

      16             KARL NOVAK:  I'd like to, first of all, thank

      17      Senator Ramos, Senator Martinez, and Senator Metzger

      18      for putting together this public hearing, and all

      19      the other Senators for attending.

      20             My name is Karl Novak.

      21             I manage a growing facility in Laurel,

      22      New York, that during peak season employs over

      23      70 full-time workers.

      24             Our work schedule is not always predetermined

      25      in advance.


       1             Our harvest and sales windows are affected by

       2      seasonal demand.  They're also affected by the

       3      weather.

       4             There are times our workdays are cut short or

       5      we are not able to work at in all the fields.

       6             Because of this, work that is not able to be

       7      completed one day because of weather must be made up

       8      on another day when the weather permits.

       9             We don't determine when we harvest crops.

      10             The crops themselves determine when they are

      11      ready to be harvested for shipment and sale.

      12             In order to harvest our crops, there are

      13      times and seasons when we have to work long hours in

      14      order to harvest and ship before our crops spoil in

      15      the field and are rendered unsalable.

      16             We value our employees.  Without them we

      17      would not be in business.

      18             We pay into the state unemployment

      19      compensation fund, carry a worker disability policy,

      20      and carry a workmen's (sic) compensation policy, as

      21      most farming operations do.

      22             Our farm -- our employees earn paid vacation,

      23      which averages two weeks per employee, or more.

      24             They get paid personal and sick time,

      25      amounting to another week, and they get paid


       1      holidays.

       2             I have never denied -- they also get a day of

       3      rest for our operation, which is Sunday.

       4             I have never denied an employee time off if

       5      they give me a day's notice, so they can plan -- so

       6      we can plan our work crews, if they have personal

       7      issues that they need to attend to, and that's

       8      important to me.

       9             We also provide housing for employees who

      10      request it, at no charge.

      11             We do work long hours, which is the nature of

      12      all our business, and our employees understand that.

      13             And this is one of the reasons why they like

      14      working in our operation and other seasonal farm

      15      operations.

      16             I have worked side-by-side in the field with

      17      the seasonal farm workforce for over 40 years.

      18             I've worked with people from Poland, Mexico,

      19      Guatemala, El Salvador, Jamaica, Dominican Republic,

      20      and Haiti.

      21             I respect the work ethic and dedication they

      22      bring to our industry.

      23             As a manager, I demand that our workers are

      24      treated with respect, and work in a safe and healthy

      25      environment, not because that is what the law


       1      requires and ensures, but because it is the right

       2      thing to do.

       3             Our state department of labor and county and

       4      local health departments also ensure we are

       5      complying with laws and regulations.

       6             As Jeff mentioned, we are routinely inspected

       7      by the department of labor, by the county and local

       8      health departments.

       9             When Jose Vega, our agricultural department

      10      of labor specialist, comes, I make sure that he is

      11      left alone with the employees, where they live, and

      12      he is allowed to talk to them so they do not feel

      13      intimidated, and are free to talk to him freely.

      14             We operate in the highest minimum-wage state

      15      in the country, and it's scheduled to go higher in

      16      the next three years.

      17             We compete and sell all our products with

      18      states surrounding us with much lower minimum wages,

      19      as Jeff said.

      20             And as you pointed out, when you go to

      21      Hunts Point, you see produce from Pennsylvania,

      22      Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut; very little from

      23      New York State because, farmers who try to sell

      24      through Hunts Points, they only do it as a last

      25      resort because they cannot get the price that they


       1      need to get to make a profit.

       2             We're already at a competitive disadvantage

       3      to sell a commodity product due to lower wages in

       4      neighboring states, and also countries, like Mexico

       5      and Canada, and are just beginning to make progress

       6      in compensating for the higher minimum wage.

       7             Just to make note, the minimum wage on

       8      Long Island is now at $12 an hour, and will be at

       9      $15 an hour, not $12.50 like the rest of the state.

      10             The addition of an overtime rule makes us

      11      even -- will make us even less competitive than we

      12      already are, and may force some of us to close our

      13      doors.

      14             Also, addressing the collective bargaining

      15      issue, what leverage would farmers have to bargain

      16      if workers went on strike during peak harvest season

      17      when a farm is most vulnerable?

      18             And if the farmer goes out of business or

      19      loses customers, because of a strike, how do the

      20      workers benefit?

      21             I support many of the same things you do:

      22      Immigration reform, a viable guest-worker program,

      23      and a path to citizenship for those who would

      24      qualify.

      25             I urge you to visit our farms and talk to our


       1      workers.  Ask them about the conditions that they

       2      work in, and how they are treated by us, the

       3      employers.

       4             I believe that you will find, as you may

       5      already have, that they do not take issue with

       6      working long hours during the busy season, and,

       7      overall, our workers like the work that they do.

       8             I believe that while this legislation may be

       9      well-intentioned, it is misguided, and the

      10      proponents are misinformed, either because they have

      11      not given the legislation its due diligence, or they

      12      honestly just don't care about the people and

      13      businesses that it will affect in an adverse way.

      14             I urge to you carefully consider this

      15      legislation because, once a farm is gone and the

      16      land is developed, the ability to farm and produce

      17      from that ground is gone forever.

      18             One last statement that you might take into

      19      account while considering this, and everybody, as

      20      has been pointed out, is a farmer's feed is three

      21      times a day, and think about where we would be

      22      without farms.

      23             As an example, New York farmers donated or

      24      heavily discounted almost 12 million pounds of

      25      ag products to food banks in 2018.


       1             Included in this number is 3.8 million pounds

       2      of ag products coming from Long Island farmers alone

       3      that went to Island Harvest and Long Island Cares.

       4             I ask, is this the work of people who do not

       5      care about the well-being of others and about the

       6      well-being of their employees?

       7             Farmers are some of the most caring, kind

       8      people I've ever known, and it is one reason I chose

       9      this profession in the first place.

      10             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, Mr. -- no, we

      11      do have questions for you, okay, if you'd just bear

      12      with us a little longer.

      13             Senator Metzger.

      14             SENATOR METZGER:  Thanks so much for your

      15      testimony.

      16             I'm going ask a question I asked earlier.

      17             In terms of the overtime provision, is there

      18      a threshold of hours at which --

      19             KARL NOVAK:  I'm not sure if there is a

      20      threshold.

      21             A threshold for my operation might be

      22      different than other operations.

      23             Our operation -- I grow -- we grow nursery

      24      stock.

      25             I operate a 600-acre farm, of which, right


       1      now, we only have 400 acres in production because we

       2      can't -- we just -- we wouldn't even have the labor

       3      to be able to operate 600 acres.

       4             So our season is a little different than the

       5      vegetable growers, than the wine growers.

       6             So, no, I can't really state what that

       7      threshold would be.

       8             I think that's something that needs to be

       9      worked out at a later date when all stakeholders sit

      10      around the table and negotiate.

      11             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay.

      12             And, just, if I could ask one more question.

      13             So what -- what do -- could you just give us

      14      an estimate of the percentage of your costs that are

      15      labor costs.

      16             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Percentage of, what?

      17             SENATOR METZGER:  That are labor costs.

      18             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Our labor cost is over

      19      50 percent of our total operating cost.

      20             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      21             JEFF ROTTKAMP:  Over 50 percent.

      22             Which a lot of businesses would find totally

      23      unacceptable.

      24             But we are -- we are -- it's an industry --

      25      the industry that I am in is very hard to mechanize,


       1      and -- as well as other places on Long Island.

       2             In order to survive on Long Island, you saw

       3      the Cornell presentation, at one time it was

       4      potatoes and cauliflower.

       5             Well, the market price for potatoes and

       6      cauliflower went through the floor.

       7             Farmers had to diversify.

       8             Many farmers grow such a diversity of crops,

       9      it would be very hard to mechanize their harvest.

      10             SENATOR METZGER:  And that's a good thing,

      11      diversification.

      12             Thank you.

      13             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, sir.

      14             Any other questions?

      15             Okay, thank you.

      16             I do want to -- before --

      17             Sorry, Ms. Dresner, but please come forward.

      18             -- but before Island Harvest presents, I just

      19      want to acknowledge that Senator Phil Boyle has

      20      joined us, and I just want to thank him for being

      21      here.

      22             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, Randi Dresner,

      23      president and CEO of Island Harvest.

      24             On deck, William Zalakar, general manager of

      25      Kurt Weiss Greenhouses.


       1             RANDI DRESNER:  As you heard, my name is

       2      Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of

       3      Island Harvest Food Bank.

       4             I thank you for holding this important

       5      hearing and for asking me to speak today.

       6             By the end of this year, our organization

       7      will have provided over 130,000 meals to people in

       8      need since our founding in 1992.

       9             Our success can be contributed to many strong

      10      partnerships, including the Long Island Farm Bureau,

      11      whose generous members have donated and deeply

      12      discounted millions of pounds of produce annually

      13      for nearly 20 years.

      14             This hearing helps us to begin an important

      15      dialogue, allowing all sides of the issue to rise,

      16      ensuring the best possible conclusion.

      17             Island Harvest Food Bank does not have a

      18      formal position on this legislation as it is

      19      currently drafted; however, we wanted to provide the

      20      perspective of its impact on a local organization.

      21             Please know that we strongly support the

      22      ability for farmworkers to receive important labor

      23      protections and appropriate pay so that they

      24      themselves are able to live in financial stability.

      25             It's counterintuitive if farmworkers leave


       1      their work on the fields and then have to rely on

       2      public-assistance programs and organizations like

       3      ours to ensure that they have adequate food for

       4      themselves and their families.

       5             That would not be right.

       6             In turn, local farms are tremendous

       7      contributors to our local economy, protecting local

       8      farmlands, growing great produce, offering local

       9      jobs, and providing charitable donations to

      10      organizations like Island Harvest Food Bank.

      11             We have heard concerns of our agricultural

      12      partners who worry about the increased costs that

      13      would result from the enactment of this bill.

      14             I completely understand their concerns.

      15             You see, we are currently struggling

      16      ourselves with the changes in the minimum-wage law

      17      and its impact on our own operations at our food

      18      bank.

      19             I want to be sure that my employees get a

      20      fair wage as well, yet we struggle with the

      21      complications that it offers us.

      22             New York farming is a very seasonal and

      23      compressed business, as you heard, and it stresses

      24      both farmers and farmworkers.

      25             The New York farm industry is also


       1      diminishing.

       2             We are losing too many legacy farms, and with

       3      fewer farms, as you know, come fewer pounds of fresh

       4      local produce, and that is not good for any of us.

       5             Quite frankly, without the generous donations

       6      and deep discounts from farms across New York State,

       7      10 food banks in this state would dramatically see

       8      increased costs, leading to find other ways to

       9      acquire healthy dairy and agricultural products.

      10             Paying more for these products would mean

      11      cuts from somewhere else within our organizations

      12      that could have unintended consequences of less food

      13      for far too many people who are already struggling

      14      with compounded industries, and, in New York State,

      15      there are more than 2.5 million people struggling

      16      with food insecurity.

      17             At the end of the day, I would encourage the

      18      Legislature to continue to work with the farming

      19      community on both sides, to create a policy that

      20      would balance both increased protections and to pay

      21      farmworkers, while also taking into consideration

      22      the needs and challenges of the farming sector.

      23             I thank you for the opportunity to testify

      24      and to speak to you today.

      25             Thank you.


       1             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, Randi.

       2             And I just want to say thank you for all that

       3      you do as an organization, feeding those in need.

       4             And, as always, we look forward to our

       5      continued partnership.

       6             RANDI DRESNER:  To that point, we don't do it

       7      alone.

       8             We do it with a lot of partnership; that

       9      includes the Legislature, but it includes our

      10      community partners as well.

      11             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Exactly.

      12             Thank you.

      13             Any questions Ms. Dresner?

      14             Okay.

      15             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, William Zalakar

      16      of Kurt Weiss Greenhouses.

      17             On deck, Robert Carpenter, administrative

      18      director of the Long Island Farm Bureau.

      19             WILLIAM ZALAKAR:  Good afternoon, Senators,

      20      Assembly members, industry members, friends, and

      21      family.

      22             My name is Bill Zalakar, the vice president

      23      of the Long Island Farm Bureau, and general manager

      24      of one of the largest greenhouse companies in

      25      New York.


       1             I have been on both sides, as a business

       2      owner and as an employee.

       3             Each and every one of us are in this unique

       4      industry because we so choose to be.

       5             Whether you're White, Latino, Black, Asian,

       6      or any nationality, there are no restraints that are

       7      keeping us in this industry.

       8             Our industry is still on the lower end of the

       9      pay scale, unfortunately.

      10             The reasons being, we cannot dictate our

      11      prices to the market; the market dictates the prices

      12      to us.

      13             Products flow in, just like we heard earlier,

      14      from neighboring states, Pennsylvania, New Jersey,

      15      Connecticut, Canada.  All of these states have

      16      consistently lower labor expenses and costs of doing

      17      business.

      18             Our labor expense runs anywhere, about,

      19      40 percent of the product cost.

      20             By adding in overtime, this would put many of

      21      the producers in a severe disadvantage by nearly a

      22      100 percent difference in payroll figures.

      23             Any of the larger businesses that have

      24      locations out of state would be either looking at

      25      relocating, other than that, cutting their volume,


       1      or, reducing the number of hours of our workers so

       2      that they don't exceed any overtime.

       3             A perfect example, in our industry, we grow

       4      Easter lilies.

       5             Last week was Easter.

       6             That Easter lily is virtually worthless the

       7      day after Easter.

       8             You're on a limited time scale to get those

       9      products out of the door.  If they're not out the

      10      door by then, we lose the money.

      11             The workloads vary from season to season.

      12             Using H2A, J-1 visa trainees, they're here --

      13      when they come here, they don't want to work for a

      14      set period of time.  They usually want to work for

      15      as much as they can.

      16             Many of our farmworkers want to work, learn,

      17      and earn.

      18             Our employees are our number-one asset.

      19             Without any of our employees, our businesses

      20      would not remain in business.

      21             At the same time, however, we must be able to

      22      pay the employees, run our businesses, and reinvest

      23      the money into our businesses to keep it afloat.

      24             Many of us are struggling to survive in the

      25      agricultural industry.


       1             If the businesses fail, the number of workers

       2      without employment would be substantial.

       3             Agriculture has always been the initial

       4      building block in any economy in this world.

       5             It's the American dream for people to travel

       6      to this country, and work hard, advance through

       7      their ways up to success.

       8             Over many years of managing hundreds of

       9      ag workers, I have had the great opportunity to see

      10      many of them advance into management positions, that

      11      they still hold today, and build comfortable futures

      12      for their families.

      13             We talk about mandating workers' comp,

      14      unemployment, and disability.

      15             These are already mandated by New York State

      16      law, and as a business, we are already paying all of

      17      those.

      18             This is where there's many misconceptions of

      19      the benefits for farmworkers.

      20             Many farms provide housing.

      21             On Long Island, that's a cost of, usually,

      22      about $800 to $1,000 per worker per month.

      23             Hudson River Health Care provides health

      24      services that come to each and every one of our

      25      farms, free of charge, for the employees.


       1             We talk about daycare.

       2             In New York State, we have ABCD Child

       3      Development, which is a free service for child care

       4      for all of the ag workers for their children.

       5             Only in New York.

       6             To consider the possibility of overtime in

       7      any form, and collective bargaining, we first must

       8      be on a level playing field with all the other

       9      states and countries.

      10             If this does not happen, any form of this

      11      bill passes, we could lose nearly 25 percent of the

      12      ag industry in New York and thousands of jobs.

      13             The New York State Department of Labor has

      14      their own ag division that visits each and every one

      15      of the farms, checks for mandated paperwork, such as

      16      contractual work agreements, workers' comp,

      17      unemployment.  They interview the people without the

      18      owners being there.

      19             This is one of the best aspects of ag-labor

      20      monitoring that you can have, and it's already in

      21      place out there.

      22             These are only a few stories that I have to

      23      tell, and I urge that you consider, carefully, the

      24      economic and viability of the agricultural industry

      25      in New York.


       1             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, Mr. Zalakar.

       2             Any questions?

       3             Senator Savino.

       4             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator Martinez.

       5             Mr. Zalakar, I noticed that in the opening

       6      part of your testimony, which you skipped over, you

       7      indicated a story from your youth, where you

       8      actually blame the unions, and I'm assuming it's the

       9      UAW, for collective bargaining, for the closure of a

      10      General Motors ship -- dealership, and your

      11      father -- and the loss of your father's employment.

      12             I would just look to make the point, though,

      13      that it is probably the advocacy of the UAW that

      14      saved the American auto industry.  In fact, a few

      15      years ago, their advocacy --

      16                [Applause.]

      17             SENATOR SAVINO:  -- yes.

      18             So I just thought it was interesting that you

      19      chose not to read that portion of your testimony.

      20             So I'm assuming -- I'm assuming you might be

      21      somewhat biased against the concept of collective

      22      bargaining, because you do then reference it again

      23      in your testimony.

      24             But if I read your testimony, and I listened

      25      to you, and you talk about how you treat your


       1      employees, you pay them higher than the minimum

       2      wage, you provide them with days off, workers' comp,

       3      employment insurance, all of the things that every

       4      other employer provides for employees, as identified

       5      under New York State labor law, what are you so

       6      afraid of about this particular piece of

       7      legislation?

       8             WILLIAM ZALAKAR:  Okay.

       9                [Applause.]

      10             WILLIAM ZALAKAR:  That's a very good point,

      11      and I really wanted to explain that, because I could

      12      write about many things, but I was limited on time,

      13      so I opted to leave that out.

      14             While I was growing up, my father did work,

      15      for 35 years, for General Motors.

      16             Okay?

      17             As collective bargaining -- he would not get

      18      home till eight or nine at night, originally, before

      19      any collective bargaining or unions came in there.

      20             When the unions came into the General Motors

      21      dealerships, it was great to have my father come

      22      home at 5:00, have dinner with us as a family, and

      23      everything.

      24             Several years later, however, the business

      25      could not adapt with the expense, the overhead


       1      expenses of labor and other things, that were

       2      brought on with that, such as the overtime, things

       3      like that.

       4             The business closed its doors, just like

       5      that.  Left all the employees without a job.

       6             My father then started his own automotive

       7      business at 62 years of age.

       8             I was a freshman in college at Penn State.

       9             He worked for 10 years on his own.  Paid for

      10      my entire college career and my sister's college

      11      career.  And 10 years later retired.

      12             The point being, a lot of our businesses,

      13      like I said, cannot absorb that additional overtime

      14      cost, even in the agricultural industry with some of

      15      the figures that I was just showing.

      16             SENATOR SAVINO:  Again, I'm going to try this

      17      one more time.

      18             You are currently, according to your

      19      testimony, you are paying higher than the minimum

      20      wage to your workforce?

      21             WILLIAM ZALAKAR:  Yes.

      22             SENATOR SAVINO:  You are paying workers'

      23      comp, unemployment insurance, paid days off,

      24      vacation?

      25             WILLIAM ZALAKAR:  Yes.


       1             SENATOR SAVINO:  All of those things?

       2             WILLIAM ZALAKAR:  Yes.

       3             SENATOR SAVINO:  And that is what the

       4      Farmworkers Bill of Rights would provide for,

       5      including the ability to band together and,

       6      potentially, organize and have collective bargaining

       7      rights.

       8             What you are so afraid of, other than

       9      collective bargaining rights?

      10             WILLIAM ZALAKAR:  The overtime.

      11             SENATOR SAVINO:  The overtime?

      12             WILLIAM ZALAKAR:  Yes.

      13             SENATOR SAVINO:  Okay, just the overtime?

      14             WILLIAM ZALAKAR:  The over -- overtime,

      15      and --

      16             SENATOR SAVINO:  The overtime, that -- that

      17      if you were still working -- if you were working in

      18      your father's shop, you would be entitled to under

      19      labor law.

      20             WILLIAM ZALAKAR:  I would be entitled to --

      21             SENATOR SAVINO:  Sure, you would.

      22             If you working for your father's shop, you

      23      would be entitled to overtime if you were worked

      24      more than 40 hours a week, wouldn't you?

      25             WILLIAM ZALAKAR:  If it's a privately held


       1      business, no.

       2             SENATOR SAVINO:  Of course you would be.

       3             You're an employee, you'd be an employee,

       4      wouldn't you, you work more than 40 hours a week?

       5             WILLIAM ZALAKAR:  Yes.

       6             SENATOR SAVINO:  Okay.

       7             So, again, if the only thing you're afraid of

       8      is collective bargaining, you really don't have much

       9      to be afraid of under this law.

      10             WILLIAM ZALAKAR:  Except the overtime.

      11             The overtime is our primary concern, yes.

      12             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      13             Any other questions?

      14             Okay.

      15             Thank you, Mr. Zalakar.

      16             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, Rob Carpenter,

      17      administrative director of Long Island Farm Bureau.

      18             On deck, Roger Clayman of the Long Island

      19      Federation of Labor.

      20             ROBERT CARPENTER:  Good afternoon.

      21             Thank you for the opportunity to present to

      22      you today.

      23             I would also like to recognize the Senate

      24      Labor Committee for holdings these hearings

      25      throughout New York State.


       1             Farmers are incredibly important in our lives

       2      in so many ways.

       3             The majority of people today forget the most

       4      important part of what farmers do, and why they

       5      should be called "heros" like police officers,

       6      firefighters, and teachers, and that is, feeding us

       7      every day, day in and day out, three square meals a

       8      day.

       9             Citizens take for granted that there is an

      10      abundant, safe food supply, allowing us to have the

      11      leisure time to spend with our loved ones, work at

      12      our jobs, and affording us the ability to do the

      13      things that we enjoy.

      14             I ask all of you, if there were no farmers,

      15      how would you feed yourselves?

      16             This proposed legislation will have great

      17      impact on all of us, including the ability for the

      18      United States to not become dependent upon foreign

      19      countries for our food.

      20             Imagine, if we were forced to trade with

      21      Russia or China for our agricultural commodities,

      22      how much leverage would they have on us today, or

      23      even worse, in difficult times or tense times?

      24             This proposed legislation needs to be

      25      thoroughly thought through, discussed, and the


       1      impacts that will come from this if passed.

       2             In particular, today's farmers work on

       3      razor-thin margins, and have not yet even had a

       4      chance to implement New York's minimum-wage increase

       5      that is currently in the second year of a five-year

       6      phase-in period.

       7             Farmers are unable to pass along these

       8      increases like Apple does with iPhones or Ford

       9      does with automobiles.

      10             I would like to set the record straight on a

      11      number of common misconceptions that have been

      12      floating out in the public domain.

      13             Farmers are some of the most incredible --

      14      incredibly fair and generous employees (sic) that

      15      I have ever known.

      16             Farmers are also among the most heavily

      17      regulated, and are inspected or follow laws and

      18      rules put into place by at least two dozen, if not

      19      more, regulatory bodies and municipalities.

      20             Additionally, we have the most dedicated

      21      New York State Department of Labor specialists who

      22      visit hundreds of farms every year, and inspect all

      23      documentation and housing facilities, and speak

      24      personally to many workers away from the eyes of the

      25      farmers.


       1             If there are abuses going on, wouldn't these

       2      inspectors know about it since they're on the front

       3      lines every day?

       4             Climate change has also been in the news for

       5      the last number of years.

       6             Scientists are predicting that, in the

       7      future, the midwest and southwest regions of the

       8      United States will become more arid and dry.

       9             The one place where conditions, they say,

      10      will actually improve is the northeast.

      11             Does this mean that the northeast will

      12      eventually become the bread basket of America,

      13      supplying food and fiber to our citizens?

      14             How will this be accomplished if there is a

      15      reduction in tillable land and a loss of farmers due

      16      to the unsustainable economic conditions today?

      17             Unlike a warehouse or office space that can

      18      easily be reconditioned, once farmland is lost, it's

      19      lost forever.

      20             New York State's annual budget is

      21      $170 billion-plus.  Out of that, the total dedicated

      22      to agricultural programs is somewhere in the

      23      neighborhood of $300 million.

      24             I encourage you to consider more investment

      25      in the agricultural industry through development of


       1      programs that will help the profitability of our

       2      farms in New York State.

       3             After all, a rising tide lifts all boats, and

       4      the creation of jobs for workers and additional

       5      wages will come naturally if farmers can be

       6      profitable.

       7             The United Nations just released a report

       8      about the world's food system, and their population

       9      studies show that, by 2050, we will need to produce

      10      an additional 50 percent more food over today's

      11      levels just to feed ourselves.

      12             Are we prepared for that?

      13             In closing, I would like to invite all of

      14      you, and all of your colleagues, if you pass the

      15      word, out to Long Island for a farm tour.

      16             I'm happy to host anytime that you would like

      17      to come out and see exactly what's going on in the

      18      farms and in the fields, and I welcome you with open

      19      arms.

      20             Thank you very much.

      21             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, Robert.

      22             Sorry for the loss of your mother.

      23             Our condolences to you and your family.

      24             ROBERT CARPENTER:  Thank you very much.

      25             Any questions for Mr. Carpenter?


       1             Okay.

       2             Thank you.

       3             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, Roger Clayman,

       4      executive director of the Long Island Federation of

       5      Labor.

       6             On deck is going to be Victoria Daza on

       7      behalf of the Long Island Jobs with Justice, in for

       8      Anita Halasz.

       9             ROGER CLAYMAN:  Thank you, Senators, for

      10      coming to Long Island.

      11             We're honored to have you here to discuss

      12      these issues.

      13             And, Senator Martinez, welcome back to the

      14      Suffolk ledge.

      15             I want to say that the -- I'll try to

      16      summarize the testimony as quickly as I can.

      17             We speak with one voice for the New York

      18      labor movement in concert with the New York State

      19      AFL-CIO.

      20             We are together on this, from Buffalo to

      21      Montauk.

      22             We support the rights of farmworkers to

      23      achieve collective bargaining, and the issues that

      24      have been raised, such as overtime and a day of

      25      rest.


       1             These are not issues that were simply pulled

       2      out of nowhere, but come from the voices of

       3      farmworkers.

       4             So I would try to give you some reasoning why

       5      you should consider supporting this bill, and I hope

       6      I can be helpful in that respect.

       7             What this legislation would do is really

       8      erase a disgraceful stain our national and state

       9      history, which is the exclusion of farmworkers from

      10      the National Labor Relations Act, from the Fair

      11      Labor Standards Act, and even from our New York

      12      State Constitution which says, "All employees shall

      13      have the right to organize and bargain," but which

      14      we do not provide.

      15             And the reason for that is not some of the

      16      administrative reasons that were given at the time,

      17      but, rather, a disrespect in the idea that

      18      farmworkers were not employees, and, therefore,

      19      don't need to be considered as people.

      20             And we should.

      21             And I think the best way for you to consider

      22      the necessity of this is to talk to farmworkers,

      23      listen to their voices.

      24             I think that as you hear from farmworkers,

      25      I mean, I'm very pleased to hear about the


       1      compatible relationships, labor-management, that

       2      exists on some of the farms that we've heard from

       3      today.  I think that's ideal.

       4             However, the Rural & Migrant Ministry has

       5      been studying this for years, and has gone all

       6      across the state, and has compiled stories, and

       7      there are stories of physical and sexual abuse; wage

       8      theft; simple disrespect; back-breaking work, from

       9      sunup to sundown, with no breaks, rest, or sanitary

      10      facilities.

      11             These need to be taken into consideration

      12      because, they exist.

      13             The farmworkers have organized, despite the

      14      fact that many are undocumented across the country.

      15             But I think that the idea that we could right

      16      those wrongs of the National Labor Relations Act on

      17      a national level are non-existent.

      18             It simply is not going to happen in this

      19      climate, in this country, at this time.

      20             We need state legislation, and we're in a

      21      position to do it.

      22             In the campaigns that have been -- where

      23      farmworkers have exercised self-organization, such

      24      as the Farm Labor Organizing Committee in Ohio, or

      25      the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida, gains


       1      have been made when farmworkers leveraged management

       2      and -- and the industry against abusive farm

       3      practices, through the boycott, and, unfortunately,

       4      through shedding blood, over many years, 10 years of

       5      efforts in some of these cases, in order to get the

       6      right to bargain and the right to stand toe-to-toe

       7      with management, with the farmer, on an equal basis.

       8             And, unfortunately, we think of collective

       9      bargaining only in the context of a strike.

      10             That's really not the whole context of the

      11      discussion here.

      12             The discussion is, whether issues of

      13      disrespect, sexual harassment, for example, for wage

      14      discrimination, where women and youth, who are

      15      routinely disadvantaged in this industry, can be

      16      addressed.

      17             The results are there.

      18             In California, for example, compared to its

      19      neighboring states, gains were made for farmworkers

      20      after collective bargaining.

      21             It didn't mean the struggle was easy, and it

      22      didn't mean they won everywhere on every farm, and

      23      it doesn't mean that they don't still work very

      24      hard; they do.

      25             So none of this that I'm saying here is meant


       1      to -- in any way, to disrespect our Long Island

       2      farms and Long Island farmers.

       3             In fact, we have more in common than we have

       4      differences with -- in working for goals on

       5      Long Island in this region.

       6             For example, as a labor movement, we've

       7      worked very hard to address issues of groundwater,

       8      and clean water and sewers, and contamination of

       9      water, that makes farming possible.

      10             We agree with the farming community that we

      11      need to have stop sprawl and build in our downtowns.

      12             We agree that we should buy local produce.

      13             And our unions on Long Island, particularly

      14      in the retail industry, are well-positioned to work

      15      with their stores where they represent them, to urge

      16      them to buy local produce, and they do.

      17             And we're in agreement on immigration reform.

      18             We know that something has to come about that

      19      will give a steady supply of workers to farms on

      20      Long Island, and across New York State, but without

      21      exploitation.

      22             And so we do have a lot in common.

      23             But, this hearing today is about the farmer;

      24      it's about the worker, the agricultural worker, they

      25      need respect.


       1             They've waited years and years to get it, and

       2      I hope you will give it to them.

       3             Thank you.

       4             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, Roger.

       5                [Applause.]

       6             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking Victoria Daza

       7      from Long Island Jobs with Justice, in for

       8      Anita Halasz who is sick.

       9             VICTORIA DIAZ:  Hi.

      10             Hi.  So, I'm Victoria Daza, and I'm the

      11      organizer for Long Island Jobs with Justice, and

      12      I've been in my position for six years.

      13             And I've also been listening to a lot of the

      14      testimony that farm owners have been giving in this

      15      hearing.

      16             And I would like to point out that, without

      17      the farmworker bill, this paying more than minimum

      18      wage, vacation days, day of rest, those are all

      19      things that farm owners are able to do at their

      20      discretion, and don't represent what they are

      21      mandated to do by law.

      22             And this legislation would cement that so

      23      that all farm owners would have to do that.

      24             As an organizer for the past six years,

      25      I have heard of people losing their limbs in the


       1      field.

       2             I have heard women talk about having to wear

       3      diapers while they do farm work because they aren't

       4      allowed bathroom breaks.

       5             There have been reports of children, infants,

       6      dying in the field because there's no child care, so

       7      the women have to bring them into the field with

       8      them in the heat.

       9             I have also heard reports of people losing

      10      limbs while in the field.

      11             These are not exemptions to what's normal.

      12             This is -- these are things that other

      13      organizers, I'm sure my colleagues, will also be

      14      able to substantiate.

      15             And to echo sentiments of my colleagues and

      16      other advocates for farmworker justice, this did

      17      originate because of Jim Crow, and this shouldn't

      18      represent -- these labor practices shouldn't be what

      19      our country allows at this current moment.

      20             And, that's all.

      21             Thank you.

      22                [Applause.]

      23             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      24             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, Ryan Madden

      25      from the Long Island Progressive Coalition.


       1             On deck, Eliana Fernandez for Make the Road

       2      New York.

       3             I would just like to take a second to remind

       4      everybody that comments are limited to

       5      three minutes.

       6             RYAN MADDEN:  Thank you.

       7             My name is Ryan Madden.  I'm the

       8      sustainability organizer for the Long Island

       9      Progressive Coalition.

      10             We're a grassroots community-based

      11      organization founded in 1979, dedicated to promoting

      12      sustainable developments, enhancing human dignity,

      13      and achieving social, economic, and racial justice.

      14             Over the past 40 years, with hundreds of

      15      members, thousands of supporters, and countless

      16      local, state, and national partnerships, we've been

      17      able to achieve significant victories for workers on

      18      Long Island, throughout New York State, and the

      19      country.

      20             We led a successful national campaign that

      21      expanded unemployment benefits, from 26, to

      22      39 weeks.

      23             We all passed a strong living-wage bill in

      24      Nassau County.  And most recently, we helped win the

      25      Fight for 15 campaign in New York State, increasing


       1      the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

       2             Currently, we're playing a leading role in

       3      the statewide coalition fighting for climate

       4      policies grounded in equity and justice for

       5      communities and working people.

       6             We are fighting for 100 percent clean,

       7      renewable New York State that invests in those most

       8      impacted by environmental degradation and the

       9      impacts of climate change.

      10             We are fighting for a just transition, and

      11      this transition must include the empowerment of

      12      farmworkers who are on the front line of climate

      13      impacts on Long Island.

      14             With this background, ideology, and vision

      15      for Long Island, New York State, and the world at

      16      large, the Long Island Progressive Coalition, in

      17      solidarity with partners from labor, faith,

      18      immigrant, and environmental justice communities,

      19      stand in support of the Farmworkers Fair Labor

      20      Practices Act as a first step in rectifying decades

      21      of racist and xenophobic labor policies that have

      22      systematically barred farmworkers from needed

      23      protections since the Fair Labor Standards Act of

      24      1938.

      25             Farmworkers and allies have been trying to


       1      pass this bill for nearly 20 years, and the time is

       2      now to ensure it finally does.

       3             We must listen to workers who have shared

       4      their struggles, who are telling us what they need

       5      to feel safe, protected, and dignified in their

       6      work.

       7             Passing this bill is a matter of economic

       8      justice.

       9             All workers must have the right to safe

      10      working conditions, adequate compensation,

      11      reasonable working hours, and most importantly, the

      12      ability to collectively bargain.

      13             Passing this bill is a matter of

      14      environmental justice.

      15             Farmworkers are on the front line of

      16      exposures to pesticides, are often from poor

      17      communities sited closer to dirty industries and

      18      polluting sources, and are reliant on a stable

      19      climate system to do their work, which is in

      20      jeopardy from anthropogenic climate change.

      21             Passing this bill is a matter of food

      22      justice.

      23             If we want everyone to have access to

      24      healthy, nutritious, and diverse foods that are

      25      affordable, we must include the rights of


       1      farmworkers to have their labor respected and have

       2      the means to take care of their families.

       3             This means that they need safe jobs, safe

       4      housing, sanitary working conditions, fair

       5      employment, labor protections, and fair pay, at a

       6      minimum.

       7             The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

       8      helps achieve economic, environmental, and food

       9      justice.

      10             To not act on this bill is to perpetuate the

      11      legacy of structural violence and racism faced by

      12      farmworkers.

      13             We must pass this bill and ensure that

      14      farmworkers are guaranteed the same protections

      15      enjoyed by other workers.

      16             We can no longer leave farmworkers behind.

      17             We must pass this bill now.

      18                [Applause.]

      19             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      20             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,

      21      Eliana Fernandez of Make the Road New York.

      22             On deck, Jennifer Halsey-Dupree of

      23      The Milk Pail.

      24             ELIANA FERNANDEZ:  Good afternoon.

      25             My name is Eliana Fernandez.  I am the lead


       1      organizer for Make the Road New York.  We are

       2      located in Brentwood, and we are a non-profit

       3      corporation.

       4             I am also a longtime Suffolk County resident.

       5             I am here today standing in solidarity with

       6      our farmworkers from Long Island and their right to

       7      have a better and improved work conditions.

       8             People of color have been excluded from basic

       9      labor protections that others workers across the

      10      country have had for decades.

      11             The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practice (sic) Act

      12      will help rectify this egregious injustice that goes

      13      back to the Jim Crow period when farmworkers of

      14      color were excluded from those basic rights, by

      15      restoring some of those basic protections to all

      16      farmworkers throughout the state.

      17             Every worker should have the ability to

      18      organize, advocate for themselves, be paid overtime,

      19      have access to unemployment insurance benefits, and

      20      a day of rest.

      21             These are basic protections that all workers

      22      should be afforded at this time of age, especially

      23      in New York, one of the most progressive states.

      24             Every day New York's farmworkers work

      25      tirelessly to contribute to the state's


       1      multi-billion-dollar agriculture industry; however,

       2      they are excluded from basic labor-law protections.

       3             Farmworkers across the state, including

       4      farmworkers in Suffolk and Nassau counties, are the

       5      backbone of our $5 billion agriculture industry.

       6             We cannot continue to maintain an injustice

       7      that rests on the -- that rests -- that rests on the

       8      backs of farmworkers and treats them unfairly.

       9             We must pass the Farm (sic) Fair Labor

      10      Practice (sic) Act to protect our farmworkers, and

      11      ensure that they have access to fair labor

      12      practices, such as a day off to spend with their

      13      families, attend church, or see a doctor, and be

      14      paid overtime.

      15             Additionally, basic labor protections will

      16      level the playing field for farm that employ very

      17      few workers, and ensure that all the workers are

      18      fair -- are treated fair.

      19             We cannot turn our backs on our farmworkers.

      20             Today, more than ever, we need to elevate our

      21      voices to make sure this (indiscernible) becomes a

      22      reality.

      23             We are talking about families, just like

      24      yours and mine, asking for a fair system which will

      25      help improve their lives and the lives of their


       1      loved ones.

       2             Thank you.

       3                [Applause.]

       4             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,

       5      Jennifer Halsey-Dupree of The Milk Pail.

       6             On deck, Sister Margaret Smyth from the

       7      North Fork Spanish Apostolate.

       8             JENNIFER HALSEY-DUPREE:  Good afternoon.

       9             My name is Jennifer Halsey-Dupree.

      10             Thank you for allowing me to speak today.

      11             I am the 12th generation of the Halsey

      12      family on the South Fork who has been producing food

      13      for people to eat for over 350 years.

      14             I was born and raised on my farm, as both of

      15      my children are now.

      16             I am hoping my children will be able to

      17      follow in my footsteps to produce high-quality and

      18      safe produce, as well as earn a living to survive in

      19      The Hamptons.

      20             With each passing year, and each new

      21      regulation added to the agricultural industry, I'm

      22      having less and less hope that my farm will survive.

      23             My employees are treated as part of the

      24      family.  We respect them for all that they do for us

      25      and treat them accordingly.


       1             Farming is seasonal and the weather can be

       2      very unpredictable.

       3             Work hours are never the same, and you work

       4      when the weather allows.

       5             That sometimes includes over an 8-hour day.

       6             As more and more regulations are added, food

       7      prices will rise or farms will go out business.

       8             I don't foresee consumers willing to pay more

       9      for their food because food costs have always

      10      remained very low.

      11             Therefore, farms will be forced out of

      12      business.

      13             Agriculture is about the only business that

      14      cannot operate Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.

      15             I have still yet to find a cow that only

      16      needs to be milked five days a week, or apples that

      17      will hang on the tree until Monday to be harvested.

      18             There are too many variables out of the

      19      control of the farmer to deal with.  Our hands are

      20      tied.

      21             My employees earn over $17 per hour, which is

      22      well over minimum wage.

      23             I pay into both state and federal

      24      unemployment funds, and have both workers'

      25      compensation and disability insurance, on top of the


       1      Social Security and Medicare contributions.

       2             My H2A employees also receive free housing

       3      and transportation, and I pay all the expenses to

       4      obtain their visas and their travel to the

       5      United States.

       6             I require my employees to have a day of rest

       7      during most of the year.

       8             During harvest there may be times where there

       9      isn't a full day of rest each week, but it is made

      10      up the next week.

      11             No one on my farm is forced to work.

      12             As of now, I have not been able to find local

      13      American employees to work, for over 10 years.

      14             I've been using the H2A visa program to keep

      15      my farm going.

      16             H2A workers are only allowed to work for the

      17      employer who sponsors them.

      18             If they are cut down to a 40-hour workweek,

      19      they will lose too much money to support their

      20      families and will leave my farm.

      21             I provide extensive safety training that goes

      22      above and beyond any department of labor regulations

      23      to all the employees to keep everyone safe, as well

      24      as avenues to obtain affordable health care.

      25             My farm is inspected regularly by both


       1      New York State and federal department of labor,

       2      among many others.

       3             Furthermore, if other states do not follow

       4      suit with this challenge -- with this change,

       5      agriculture in New York will be competing against

       6      other states with lower costs of production.

       7             Based on my payroll calculations, my payroll

       8      costs will increase by 26 percent if I am required

       9      to pay overtime, just in the first year.

      10             We will not be able to compete with other

      11      states.

      12             Before you consider approving this change,

      13      please take a look at all that is at stake.

      14             Please think about all of us involved in

      15      New York agriculture every time you take a bite to

      16      eat.

      17             Thank you.

      18                [Applause.]

      19             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      20             Ms. Dupree, I'm sorry, we do have a couple of

      21      questions for you.

      22             Senator Savino has a question, and

      23      Senator Metzger.

      24             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Ms. Dupree.

      25             Thank you for your testimony.


       1             I just want to ask you, like, two questions.

       2             So you noted in your testimony that you have

       3      not been able to hire anybody local for the past

       4      10 years, and you've relied almost solely on the H2A

       5      program, which restricts who they can work for.

       6             So they can only work for you; correct?

       7             JENNIFER HALSEY-DUPREE:  Correct.

       8             SENATOR SAVINO:  And it's astounding that you

       9      can't find anybody local to do this work.

      10             So from what I'm hearing, over and over, from

      11      many of the farm owners, is it's the threshold of

      12      the 40-hour workweek triggering overtime that seems

      13      to be the most difficult for you all to figure out

      14      how to absorb.

      15             Is that true?

      16             JENNIFER HALSEY-DUPREE:  Correct.

      17             And as I was saying, as everyone here has

      18      been saying, farming is seasonal.

      19             In the middle of winter we could work

      20      30 hours, 35 hours.

      21             And keep in mind that all of us as farmers

      22      are working right next to them.

      23             As a matter of fact, yesterday I was up at

      24      three in the morning, and then kept going.

      25             Come harvest time, there's a lot more going


       1      on, a lot of things that need to be done, so then

       2      hours per week go upwards, anywhere from 60 to 70.

       3             It depends.

       4             We could have a week in the middle of fall

       5      where it rains all week and it could be 35 hours.

       6             It is a very touchy subject as to how many

       7      hours per week --

       8             SENATOR SAVINO:  So -- so --

       9             JENNIFER HALSEY-DUPREE:  -- would be a decent

      10      threshold.

      11             Everybody is different.

      12             SENATOR SAVINO:  -- uh-huh.

      13             Thank you.

      14             JENNIFER HALSEY-DUPREE:  Did you have a

      15      second question?

      16             SENATOR SAVINO:  (Inaudible.)

      17             SENATOR METZGER:  I was going to ask a

      18      related question, of whether, if it kicks in -- if

      19      overtime kicks in at 60 hours a week, would that

      20      (inaudible)?

      21             JENNIFER HALSEY-DUPREE:  Hearing other

      22      testimony, and hearing us saying we provide all

      23      these other options, availabilities, housing,

      24      transportation, all these other costs, yes, maybe we

      25      could handle it, but the employees are ultimately


       1      the ones that lose out.

       2             That money has to come from somewhere else.

       3             So they are going to lose.

       4             They will be the ones that lose, and they are

       5      the ones that need this the most.

       6             I understand that there are certain

       7      individuals that treat people terribly.

       8             That is horrendous.

       9             Not on my farm, and not on many of these

      10      farms.

      11             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      12                [Applause.]

      13             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,

      14      Sister Margaret Smyth from the North Fork Spanish

      15      Apostolate.

      16             On deck, Kareem Massoud from

      17      Paumanok Vineyards.

      18             SISTER MARGARET SMYTH:  Thank you very much.

      19             My name is the Sister Margaret Smyth.  I'm

      20      the director of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate

      21      which is housed in Riverhead.

      22             22 years ago I came out to Long Island, via

      23      Guatemala, in order to be able to work with the

      24      immigrant communities.

      25             The first lunch I ever had on Long Island was


       1      at Half Hollow Farm, sitting with the

       2      (indiscernible) farmworkers, having tortillas

       3      (indiscernible), because they told me, That's what

       4      we have for lunch today.

       5             Over the years I have been in and out of many

       6      farms, from both points of view.

       7             I have received many phone calls from

       8      farmers, saying, Sister Margaret, would you come out

       9      to the farm, because we're having new benefits, and

      10      I'd like you to explain to the workers at lunchtime

      11      what they mean.

      12             I help them because I speak Spanish, and,

      13      therefore, I can be an in-between person with both.

      14             I've also been on farms, at the behest of the

      15      owners, to help them in terms of resolving some

      16      little problems that might come up, and we work with

      17      them.

      18             Over the years we've become -- we brought

      19      Hudson River down to become the health providers for

      20      farmworkers on Long Island.

      21             But at the same time, my biggest constituency

      22      are the farmworkers themselves, and they will call

      23      me up, or they'll come in to see me, and say,

      24      (Indiscernible) Margarita, we have this problem.

      25      This is what I'm facing.  What can we do?


       1             And very often the answer is, Well, we really

       2      can't do much because there are no protections for

       3      you.  There is no plan.  There is not a purpose for

       4      what's happening right now.

       5             When we talk about competition, the

       6      competition exists even at a low level.

       7             The competition among farmworkers who see the

       8      farm over here offers different benefits, so they

       9      want to leave where they are and go and progress

      10      even further.

      11             We have farm work -- farm owners that call up

      12      because there's a labor shortage.

      13             People are leaving the industry because they

      14      can do better outside of it than they can within it,

      15      although within the farming industry is where they

      16      find their heart.

      17             I look at a thing called the "three Ps":

      18             Prevention.  What can we do to make sure that

      19      we're all on a playing field that is good for

      20      everyone?

      21             Protection.  The abuses that I have seen over

      22      the years, how can we make sure that they will not

      23      keep occurring, that that will be ended?

      24             Because putting those two together, I see

      25      that "production" becomes much better.


       1             And when production on the farms, because

       2      everybody is being able to benefit, only -- will

       3      only have a win-win situation.

       4             I think it's possible to be able to look at

       5      this farm bill, to be able to look at the farm

       6      owners, and the farmworkers, and be able to come up

       7      with an intelligent way to make farming the great

       8      industry it is, and continue to have that happen.

       9             Thank you.

      10                [Applause.]

      11             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, Kareem Massoud

      12      of Paumanok Vineyards.

      13             On deck, Philip Schmitt of

      14      Philip A. Schmitt & Sons Farms.

      15             KAREEM MASSOUD:  Good afternoon.

      16             My name is Kareem Massoud.  I'm a

      17      second-generation winemaker at Paumanok Vineyards.

      18             In the 36 years that we have been farming at

      19      Paumanok Vineyards, I cannot recall a labor market

      20      as tight as this one.

      21             The rate at which our payroll expenses have

      22      increased over the past two years is unprecedented.

      23             Our margins are very slim to begin with, as

      24      wine-growing is a high-cost, long payback, and

      25      highly competitive business.


       1             As farmers -- by the way, winemakers

       2      absolutely are farmers too -- we are partners with

       3      Mother Nature.  Unfortunately, she is the senior

       4      partner.

       5             Farming is inherently risky and challenging.

       6             Why?

       7             Well, think about it.

       8             If you have work to do on the farm, and the

       9      work is dependent on dry weather, what do you do

      10      when it rains for several days in a row?

      11             No, you cannot resume work as soon as it

      12      stops raining.

      13             You have to wait until the soil dries out so

      14      that you can complete the job.

      15             Keep in mind, every day that goes by, the

      16      days are getting longer, and it's getting warmer.

      17             This puts even more pressure on the farmer,

      18      as the plants are now experiencing explosive growth,

      19      having been soaked with water and now getting plenty

      20      of sun and heat.

      21             Mother Nature is not interested in overtime;

      22      however, this is exactly what is required in

      23      situations like this.

      24             In the weeks that are rained out, our

      25      workers' hours may be significantly reduced simply


       1      because there is no work due to the rain, such as

       2      today.

       3             The opposite is also true.

       4             When the rain stops and better weather

       5      returns, you find yourself doing double the work,

       6      not because you planned it that way, because those

       7      were the cards you were dealt by Mother Nature.

       8             I believe the exemption on overtime pay for

       9      ag workers dates back to the 1930s.

      10             You have to ask yourself the following

      11      question:  Why is it than an exemption was granted

      12      in the first place?

      13             The answer to that question has not changed.

      14             The answer, is because a farm has no control

      15      over the weather.  It's as simple as that.

      16             Make no mistake, if agricultural enterprises

      17      are required to pay overtime above 40 hours, many

      18      ag businesses will go out business.

      19             Many farms are operating on razor-thin

      20      margins, and their success or failure already

      21      depends heavily on what kind of crop they bring in.

      22             We compete in a global marketplace with

      23      low-cost (indiscernible) being produced in countries

      24      where there is no overtime pay.

      25             The last thing we need is poorly thought out


       1      legislation that accomplishes nothing other than a

       2      political victory for some, and the possible ruin of

       3      farm families that are nothing but honest,

       4      hard-working men and women.

       5             We care deeply about all of our employees,

       6      including our ag workers.

       7             As required by law, we pay Medicare,

       8      Social Security, withhold income taxes.  We provide

       9      unemployment insurance, workmen's comp insurance,

      10      disability insurance, as well as protective and

      11      safety equipment and training.

      12             We provide paid lunch breaks, and additional

      13      breaks as needed during the workday.

      14             For our full-time ag workers, we offer up to

      15      two works of paid vacation per year, in addition to

      16      five paid holidays.

      17             We also offer a health-insurance plan, as

      18      well as a simple IRA retirement savings plan.

      19             We also offer a 50 percent employee discount

      20      on our wines.

      21             I invite you to visit us at Paumanok in

      22      Palmer, to see our operation and witness firsthand

      23      how we do what we do.

      24             Thank you for your attention.

      25                [Applause.]


       1             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, Philip Schmitt

       2      of Schmitt & Sons Farms in Riverhead.

       3             On deck, Angel Reyes Rivas from the Rural &

       4      Migrant Ministry.

       5             PHILIP SCHMITT:  Good afternoon.

       6             I'm Phil Schmitt.

       7             Thanks for having this hearing today.

       8             I just -- I wrote my testimony and it's too

       9      long, so I'm just going to highlight a couple of

      10      things, if that's okay.  I'll keep it brief.

      11             We have a 200-acre vegetable farm.

      12             My whole family is involved.

      13             My two sons, one only part-time.  But, my

      14      daughter -- my daughter -- my wife and my

      15      daughter-in-law.  And my parents are still involved,

      16      and help out when they can.

      17             My farm is very similar to Jeff and some of

      18      the others.

      19             I'm a food producer.

      20             I produce food at a wholesale level for

      21      people in New York, mostly Long Island and

      22      metropolitan area, to have on their table.

      23             I just wanted -- one quick story about the

      24      workers.

      25             I had one -- one of the girls that worked for


       1      me stopped by last spring.  She hadn't received her

       2      W-2, for some reason, and we were chatting.  And

       3      when she -- I was talking to her, and she's working,

       4      cleaning houses.

       5             And I said, Oh, good.  You know, that's nice,

       6      and everything.

       7             Then she asked me, When can I come back?

       8             I'm, like, you want to come back?

       9             I said, you know, you have a nice job.  You

      10      stay clean, it's inside, clothed consignment --

      11             Excuse me, I'm very nervous.

      12             -- climate-controlled.

      13             And she said, Well, I only get 40 hours a

      14      week there.  You know, I want to come back here.

      15      And I like working here.

      16             So, you know, I don't know where you want to

      17      set -- they talk thresholds, but, the workers want

      18      to work hours.

      19             And Senator Metzger mentioned earlier that

      20      some of the farms in New York are under duress.

      21             We're under duress.  Really under duress.

      22             I know I couldn't afford to pay overtime.

      23             Whatever you set it at, that's where we'll

      24      stop working.

      25             It's -- it's -- I -- you know, we compete


       1      with every other state, every other country, that

       2      has lesser standards, and that's really what it

       3      comes down to:  How am I supposed to survive, when

       4      Pennsylvania or these other -- this state, that

       5      state?

       6             A big one is Canada.

       7             I don't think most of the people in New York

       8      realize that a lot of the produce they eat comes

       9      from Canada every day.

      10             They have the exact same season as me.

      11             Never mind subsidies, anything else.  They

      12      may get lesser benefits.

      13             They make money on the exchange.  It's 30 to

      14      35 percent.  Okay?

      15             And I deal with, some local customers, I can

      16      maybe squeeze a little bit out of.

      17             But any chance -- I've even had restaurants

      18      tell me, Well, Phil, I can get it out of the market

      19      for $2 less.

      20             I'm, like, you're buying two boxes.

      21             Well, that's all I get out of market.

      22             But that's the reality of the local program:

      23      it ends with the buyer's bottom line.

      24             It's all about price.

      25             And, you know, I don't know if we're going to


       1      survive the minimum wage.

       2             And now you want to -- me and my son talked

       3      over the winter, how we're going to -- you know,

       4      because it's not the minimum wage.

       5             It's the pay scale.

       6             Everybody -- you know, everybody up the scale

       7      wants a little more money.

       8             And, honestly, they deserve it.

       9             But there's something wrong with this society

      10      and this economy, the way it works, that, you know,

      11      it's the bottom line.

      12             And I really don't know if we're going to

      13      survive.

      14             I have a son on the farm, and, you know, he

      15      really wants to make it work.

      16             He has a work ethic that, you know, most

      17      people don't understand.

      18             He graduated from Pace University, magna cum

      19      laude, with a business degree.

      20             He came back here in 2006.  And my wife and

      21      I, we're very proud that he came back to the farm.

      22             And we kind of regret it now.

      23             Thank you.

      24                [Applause.]

      25             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, Mr. Schmitt.


       1             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,

       2      Angel Reyes Rivas, Long Island coordinator for the

       3      Rural & Migrant Ministry.

       4             On deck, Jennifer Gil-Vinueza from

       5      SEPA Mujer.

       6             ANGEL REYES RIVAS:  How are you?

       7             My name is Angel Reyes.  I'm the Long Island

       8      coordinator for Rural & Migrant Ministry.

       9             I'm also an immigrant, and I'm also a

      10      business owner.

      11             Rural & Migrant Ministry has been standing

      12      with farmworkers since 1981 through leadership

      13      development and advocacy.

      14             The work that we do on Long Island, it's

      15      primarily leadership development.  We offer

      16      different programs.

      17             I'm the one overseeing those programs.

      18             We have a group of workers, we have possibly

      19      50 workers getting together, and many of those are

      20      farmworkers.

      21             So we get to hear those stories.

      22             You know, I'm really proud to see someone

      23      that I truly admire, which is Juan Antonio, speak

      24      up, because it's not easy.

      25             I would say most of the workers wouldn't be


       1      able to do that.

       2             And when Juan Antonio tells me that I'm doing

       3      this, not because I will benefit from it, but

       4      because many families that are starting off will

       5      benefit for 20, 30, 40 years, it really touches me

       6      to keep doing the work that we do.

       7             So, from the workers that we talk to, I also

       8      know that there are many good-hearted farmers that

       9      are trying to do the right thing, but what we are

      10      asking is that those good intentions remain by being

      11      lawful.

      12             That's why we need to amend the New York

      13      labor law because, if there's a change of heart, how

      14      can we protect those workers?

      15             As a business owner also, back in 2008, I was

      16      a junior in high school, I lived in Suffolk County.

      17      And my mom was deported back to Peru.

      18             And the first thing that I promised her was

      19      that I was going to make her proud, and I was going

      20      to fight to achieve the American dream.

      21             And I decided to open a business.

      22             So, I understand business ain't easy.

      23             My first try, I failed.

      24             My second try, I saved close to $20,000.  So

      25      I opened a repair shop -- a cell phone repair shop


       1      in the city two blocks away from Times Square.

       2             I was there for eight months, and, also,

       3      I couldn't make it work.

       4             I ended up with probably $30,000 in debt,

       5      that I'm still paying today.

       6             And now I'm on my third try.

       7             I have a cell phone repair shop with some

       8      friends in Glen Cove, Nassau County, and we're doing

       9      good.

      10             However -- I mean, we recently hired an

      11      employee, and we do pay minimum wage, more than $15.

      12      We try to do overtime, even though he works only

      13      40 hours.

      14             The thing is this, you know, new competition

      15      came a fewer months after we opened that business in

      16      Glen Cove.  We were like the only one doing that,

      17      and new competition came, and, you know what?

      18             We could have, pretty much, you know, hired

      19      someone for less, or get someone and not pay

      20      overtime, just to remain competitive.

      21             But, we understand that our employee is the

      22      most important fundamental part of our business, and

      23      we like to take care of him.

      24             That's why I empathize with the farm owners,

      25      and I understand the struggle.


       1             However, we shouldn't -- we shouldn't -- we

       2      shouldn't rely on exploitation for the financial

       3      relief of our businesses.

       4             And we shouldn't keep oppressing this group

       5      of people so we can remain profitable.

       6             It's not the right thing to do.

       7             So just to finish up, I want to say that the

       8      fight for the farmworker bill, it's a fight for

       9      human dignity, it's a fight for human rights.

      10             The fight for the farmworkers bill is a fight

      11      against exploitation, a fight against economic

      12      injustice, and it's a fight to move New York forward

      13      to be a more equitable society.

      14             And we cannot accept the argument that says

      15      that we cannot afford a just society.

      16             Thank you.

      17                [Applause.]

      18             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,

      19      Jennifer Gil-Vinueza from SEPA Mujer.

      20             On deck is Sister Karen Burke from the

      21      Sisters of St. Joseph.

      22             JENNIFER GIL-VINUEZA:  Hello, good afternoon.

      23             My name is Jennifer Gil-Vinueza, and I'm here

      24      representing SEPA Mujer.

      25             I'm also here individually as a recent


       1      graduate from the University of Vermont, and

       2      I majored in natural resource and sustainable

       3      agriculture, so I have my hands in, like, the two

       4      buckets.

       5             SEPA Mujer, Inc., is a non-profit

       6      organization that has been working to support

       7      immigrant women on Long Island since 1993.

       8             We stand for the well-being and the success

       9      of Latina immigrant women, and aim to raise and

      10      unite our voices to be heard by social and political

      11      systems in our communities.

      12             Through our work, we strive to nurture and

      13      improve civic engagement by way of leadership skills

      14      and legal representation.

      15             SEPA Mujer supports the Farmworkers Fair

      16      Labor Practices Act, and stands with migrant and

      17      seasonal farmworkers across New York State who are

      18      most marginalized and exploited.

      19             Farmworkers should have the rights of

      20      collective bargaining and overtime pay.

      21             These workers are the pillars of our economy

      22      and our lives.

      23             We sustain ourselves every day at the expense

      24      of their hard labor.

      25             This is not mutually exclusive to our fight


       1      in SEPA Mujer.

       2             Migrant and seasonal farmworkers include

       3      women, and their livelihoods are at risk.  They are

       4      overworked, often when pregnant, exposed to harsh

       5      working conditions, and not fairly compensated.

       6             There are, roughly, 80,000 farmworkers across

       7      fields, greenhouses, and dairy farms in New York

       8      State.

       9             In those 80,000 workers, there's a growing

      10      population of female workers.

      11             These women are not only exposed often to

      12      assault, discrimination, and physical abuse in the

      13      workplace, often by their own farm owners, but are

      14      forced into unwanted situations due to the fact of

      15      them not being justly compensated for their labor.

      16             Here's a story from one of our members.

      17             She is a Latina migrant farmworker in the

      18      greenhouses in eastern Long Island.

      19             She is a mother and works over 55 hours a

      20      week.

      21             She is not able to afford to move out of her

      22      living space with her abusive partner.

      23             After working long hours every day, she

      24      returns home to care for her children and live in a

      25      traumatic environment with her continuous abuser.


       1             Now, this trauma is being inflicted on her

       2      children.

       3             She can't take her children to the doctor

       4      when they need to because her employer threatens her

       5      with her job.

       6             Now she's stuck in a situation where she

       7      cannot adequately care for herself or her children.

       8             Why is her life, labor, and dignity so

       9      disposable?

      10             Exploitation of farmworkers has a deep

      11      historical and racial background in this country.

      12             It is time for each state to take a stance

      13      and support this vulnerable and integral workforce.

      14             We urge for the support and passing of this

      15      act in order to continue advocating for the rights

      16      of farmworkers in New York State and across the

      17      country.

      18             This is just the beginning to a long fight

      19      for justice.

      20             Thank you.

      21                [Applause.]

      22             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,

      23      Sister Karen Burke from the Sisters of St. Joseph.

      24             On deck, George Starkie from Starkie Family

      25      Farms.


       1             SISTER KAREN BURKE:  Hi.

       2             My name is Sister Karen Burke.  I speak here

       3      today representing the Sisters of St. Joseph of

       4      Brentwood.

       5             As Sisters of St. Joseph, our charism calls

       6      us to love of God and neighbor without distinction.

       7             We see the whole community of life as the

       8      neighbor through whom God continues to be revealed.

       9             Our charism of union with all of our

      10      neighbors, our call to love them as God loves them,

      11      and the reverence for them that flows from this

      12      continues to challenge us, on many issues, including

      13      the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practice.

      14             As many of you know, the Sisters of

      15      St. Joseph are working to conserve natural resources

      16      that have significant impact for generations to

      17      come.

      18             And most importantly, in partnership with

      19      Suffolk County, we preserve 27 acres of working

      20      farms in perpetuity through a permanent agricultural

      21      easement on our property which is less than 4 miles

      22      this location.

      23             And thank you to Senator Martinez and

      24      Legislator Krupski for working with us on that.

      25             The fields of our Brentwood property that


       1      were once working farmlands have been restored to

       2      agriculture.

       3             Supporting farmers on our Mother House campus

       4      promotes sustainable farming practices, and will

       5      help to ensure the future of farming on Long Island

       6      by putting more farmers, more securely, on more

       7      land.

       8             We have made a commitment to farmers and

       9      farms, but at the same time, we are strongly

      10      committed to take responsibility for the farmworkers

      11      and all the communities that work on the land so

      12      that they might be cared for as one.

      13             Many of the speakers todays have passionately

      14      outlined the specific rights of farmworkers that

      15      have been denied for far too long.

      16             I do not need to repeat the shame that has

      17      been brought to our brothers and sisters, but I do

      18      need to call us, all of us, to talk about the key

      19      issues, and to find a way to bring an end to

      20      80 years of racist labor policy.

      21             Passing the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices

      22      Act is a social-justice issue, and it is undeniably

      23      a moral issue.

      24             We have more than 400 Sisters of St. Joseph

      25      on Long Island.  We cannot do all of the same things


       1      with the same physical energy, but we can respond to

       2      the present ills of our society because we have the

       3      power to make decisions and influence the decisions

       4      of others.

       5             Those who come after us will know us not only

       6      for our spiritual works, but they will know us for

       7      the challenges that we meet in the twenty-first

       8      century.

       9             My prayer is that they will talk about the

      10      Sisters of St. Joseph as a group religious women who

      11      had their finest hour because they had the foresight

      12      and commitment to make a basic issue of human

      13      rights, a basic issue of the rights of our brothers

      14      and sister farmworkers.

      15             So in conclusion, let us make a commitment

      16      today that those who come after us will remember

      17      that, in 2019, the elected officials and the people

      18      of New York State came together and had one of their

      19      finest moments because they worked collaboratively

      20      to address a basic issue of human rights.

      21             My friends and colleagues, we have been

      22      called to respond to our moral responsibility.

      23             Let us be sure that we do not miss this

      24      moment.

      25             Thank you.


       1                [Applause.]

       2             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, George Starkie,

       3      owner of Starkie Family Farms.

       4             GEORGE STARKIE:  It's going to be tough.

       5             Don't start the clock.

       6             Okay, now you can go.

       7             I'm not even running for office, and I was

       8      bold and I threw my hat over the fence, and I sent

       9      you tax returns.  And I would be more than happy --

      10                [Laughter.]

      11             -- I would be more than happy to share as

      12      many years that you want.

      13             I think you need to see the reality.

      14             You know, what I heard is a lot of feelings,

      15      and I get it.  No one wants to hear about these

      16      horrible stories about any abuse on any level.

      17             What I did is, I sent you facts.

      18             And I happen to have a partner in this

      19      particular farm that's like a data junky, and he

      20      like froths to put data into spreadsheets.

      21             And so we, actually, I sent you two years of

      22      tax returns, and a wage report from 1999 to the year

      23      2018.

      24             As of last year, it took 32,208 man- and

      25      woman-hours to run this farm.


       1             And, because we haven't even digested the

       2      minimum-wage increase, you can't raise the lower

       3      level without just going up across the board, and

       4      you will see that data play out.

       5             We do provide housing.

       6             We just borrowed $60,000, for any farmer

       7      here, 5 percent, flat, through Farm Credit in

       8      New York State.

       9             We just spent $60,000, brand-new kitchen,

      10      brand-new bathrooms.

      11             I'd live in it, this house is gorgeous.

      12             And that doesn't count with any of the wages.

      13             And you'll see, only the newest hires that

      14      are just learning are at minimum wage, and everyone

      15      else got a bump.

      16             So next year, at a minimum, and for the next

      17      two years after that, I'm looking at a minimum of a

      18      $32,000 increase in overhead, and we're not even

      19      talking about, you know, overtime.

      20             I totally agree that if there are some laws

      21      that are on the books -- or, not on the books as it

      22      relates to workmens' (sic) comp liability, like, by

      23      all means.  I mean, we pay it now.

      24             What I will share is that, we ship into the

      25      tri-state area, and just getting off the island is a


       1      joke in itself with the costs and whatnot.  But it

       2      puts us at a tremendous disadvantage when all the

       3      states.

       4             I have no problem, if minimum wage went up

       5      nationwide, we're all -- at least all ships rise on

       6      a high tide and we're competing and it works.

       7             I also heard a couple of people say -- first

       8      of all, I'd love you, if you had subpoena power, you

       9      want to get Jose Vega here.  He works for the

      10      department of labor.  And this guy is not only --

      11      like he's fair, and he's good.  And everyone has to

      12      have a contract.  And when he comes in to check

      13      documents, we're not talking about immigration

      14      status or anything like that.

      15             He wants to see that, number one, all of our

      16      posters are posted.

      17             They know what their -- all our labor knows

      18      what their rights are.

      19             And, also, that they have a contract, and

      20      what day's paid off, and what other benefits that

      21      they're going to get.

      22             The majority of the men and -- I don't have

      23      any women that live in the housing, but the men that

      24      stay at the housing all take their chips and they go

      25      back to their country, and they love it.  It works


       1      for them.

       2             And you can see from the data I provided,

       3      that I've had people for over 25 years on my home

       4      farm, and they have choice in the matter.

       5             There's carpenters now, roofers,

       6      construction, the east end is booming.  And every

       7      year it's not just, can I get them back?

       8             It's, like, I lost one of my best key guys

       9      because he's getting $300 a day cash off the books.

      10             Like, how can he say no to that?

      11             And that's what we're dealing with.

      12             But there are people that want to be legit

      13      and pay their taxes and be part of the system.

      14             We're at the top end.

      15             And I'll share, I'm an open book.

      16             I have no problems sharing data with anyone

      17      at the Senate here to show you, like, this is the

      18      nail in the coffin.

      19             Please, give the workers their rights, and

      20      believe me, dignity.

      21             They are family members, I mean that.

      22             I call one of them "my adopted son."

      23             So I would think long and hard about it.

      24             There's some marginal farms, we heard from a

      25      few, that this is definitely the end.


       1             Land, taxes, just the cost of doing business,

       2      is such that it just doesn't work anymore.

       3             So, thank you.

       4             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

       5             And, Mr. Starkie, we do have a question.

       6             Senator Rivera has a question for you.

       7             SENATOR RIVERA:  Since you are batting

       8      cleanup, sir.

       9             This the first hearing that I've come to for

      10      the farmworkers bill, but I've heard from many

      11      farmers like yourself in years past, and I visited

      12      some farms upstate as well.

      13             And I've been very lucky to speak to folks

      14      like yourself, and the folks who are here today, who

      15      are, as you said, these -- the folks that are

      16      working for you are family members, you take care of

      17      them, you respect them.

      18             My question to you, and this is in good

      19      faith, because I certainly believe that --

      20      I understand that I would not be able too eat at

      21      home if it wasn't for farmers.

      22             I understand that our entire system -- you

      23      know, I don't want your farms to go away,

      24      particularly folks like yourselves.

      25             If you've actually put yourselves on the


       1      record as you have today, then I have no doubt that

       2      you're being honest with us, that you are good

       3      people, that you care about your workers, and that

       4      you're doing the best that you can under the

       5      circumstances.

       6             My sincere question to you is:

       7             Since I am sure that you know, individuals

       8      would never come into this room, who would never

       9      come into our office to talk to us, who are farmers,

      10      who don't particularly care about their workers, who

      11      might be disrespectful to their workers, who might,

      12      you know, threaten their workers.

      13             My question, sincere question, to you is:

      14      What should we do if not create a state standard for

      15      are what are that parameters that everybody is like

      16      you?

      17             GEORGE STARKIE:  You need more Jose Vegas.

      18             I mean, he is -- he works for the department

      19      of labor, supposed to be, but he is the advocate for

      20      all of the labor at our farm.

      21             He visits a couple of times a year.

      22             He doesn't request that he talk to the men by

      23      themselves.

      24             He says, "You leave now."

      25             And he has a heart-to-heart with these folks,


       1      and just says, Tell me the truth.  If there's

       2      something that is going on here, now's the time, and

       3      I'll cover you.  I have your back.

       4             Maybe they don't have that in the other parts

       5      of the state, I don't know.

       6             I only know Long Island.

       7             But we pay -- we even have a simple IRA for

       8      Pinewood.  The one that I sent you the tax returns

       9      for, there's even a simple IRA.

      10             I haven't drawn a paycheck from that place

      11      since I bought it.

      12             I'm fortunate, I have a garden center, I have

      13      other means of income.

      14             But this thing is so marginal, that this

      15      gentleman that says he's farming 100 acres, like,

      16      started with 20 grand, God bless.

      17             I mean, I trust him when he says he's

      18      marginal.

      19             It's a labor of love.

      20             I was a troubled kid at 12.

      21             My father sent me to a Pete Kiowski's (ph.)

      22      farm, right across from where you live, because

      23      I was a troublemaker, and I was 12.

      24             And you got up at sunrise, and you picked

      25      beans after dinner because it was the coolest time


       1      of the day.  And I worked, six days, seven days a

       2      week.  You didn't have a choice.

       3             Right?

       4             You'd go to church, and that was it, and you

       5      come back.

       6             SENATOR RIVERA:  I have a sense you're still

       7      a troublemaker, by the way.

       8                [Laughter.]

       9             GEORGE STARKIE:  So, anyway, I fell in love.

      10             You know, if you love what you do, you never

      11      worked a day in your life.

      12             And everyone in agriculture that I know loves

      13      what they do.

      14             They have choices.

      15             All of my men have choices.

      16             They could be carpenters, roofers, they could

      17      make more money.

      18             They love what they do.

      19             And how do we find so -- what's fair and

      20      legal and right?

      21             I was also an elected official, I was the

      22      mayor of my town.

      23             So I got out quick.  I did a term, and, whoa,

      24      this isn't for me.

      25             So I appreciate what you're all doing.


       1                [Laughter.]

       2             GEORGE STARKIE:  While I have an opinion, and

       3      sometimes as a politician you shouldn't do that.

       4             But, there's got to be a way.

       5             I'm not saying it's not broken, but, be

       6      careful about the fix because, there will be damage,

       7      and how do you balance that?

       8             That's the key.

       9             SENATOR RIVERA:  Thank you, sir.

      10             GEORGE STARKIE:  Thank you.

      11             [Applause.]

      12             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      13             Thank you, for every single individual who

      14      came up and spoke.

      15             I know that we were scheduled to be here till

      16      about 5:30, and we have reached that mark, but we

      17      are extending it, obviously, to hear those of you

      18      who have comment cards.

      19             We do have to be out of here by 6:15, so --

      20      just because of the Legislature and the usage.

      21             But, if you can all bear with us, I would

      22      appreciate that.

      23             And I believe, Ross, you have the next group.

      24             ROSS SLOTNICK:  First speaker is going to be

      25      Charlotte Koons, followed by Michael Hurwitz.


       1             CHARLOTTE KOONS:  Good afternoon.

       2             I'm Charlotte Koons, a retired school teacher

       3      with 43 years of service, and a board member of the

       4      New York Civil Liberties Union, Suffolk Chapter.

       5             And we are an affiliate of the American Civil

       6      Liberties Union, and with eight offices throughout

       7      New York State, and more than 120,000 members and

       8      supporters.

       9             Our mission is to promote and protect the

      10      fundamental rights, principles, and values embodied

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

      12      of the New York State Constitution.

      13             I'm here today to speak in support of the

      14      Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act which would

      15      remove the exclusion of farmworkers from New York

      16      State labor-law protections, and, thereby, provide

      17      farmworkers with the basic labor rights that almost

      18      all other hourly workers in our state receive.

      19             Farmwork is grueling, dangerous, and can even

      20      be life-threatening.

      21             Many years ago, and this is a personal

      22      statement, my late-husband, Chester Koons, one of

      23      the original founders of our NYCLU Suffolk Chapter,

      24      and I searched out where one or two of the "camps"

      25      were.


       1             And being young and daring, we would head out

       2      at night with clothing and other things we had

       3      gathered, drive out east, whistle at a fence, and we

       4      would be met by some of the workers, and smuggled

       5      clothing, food, and first-aid supplies to them.

       6             We knew that they are, were, and still are

       7      exposed to pesticides and other chemicals, intense

       8      physical strain, extreme heat and cold, and

       9      dangerous animals and machineries.

      10             Between 2006 and 2016, 69 farmer -- farm

      11      fatalities were reported to the New York Department

      12      of Health.

      13             Farmworkers work long hours with no overtime

      14      pay.

      15             A recent survey of Hispanic dairy workers in

      16      New York reveals that the average daily work shift

      17      is 11.3 hours, and that most workers, 89 percent,

      18      work 6 days a week.

      19             And for female farmworkers, work conditions

      20      often include the added harm of sexual harassment

      21      and/or assault.

      22             Enacting the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices

      23      Act will finally provide farmworkers with the equal

      24      rights they deserve; namely, the right to a weekly

      25      day of rest, overtime pay, workers' compensation


       1      regardless of farm size, regular health and safety

       2      inspections for all farmworker housing, and

       3      collective bargaining so workers can advocate for

       4      better working conditions without fear of being

       5      fired.

       6             In 2019, our most vulnerable workers should

       7      not be denied basic labor protections.

       8             Passage of the Farmworkers Fair Labor

       9      Practices Act will send a strong signal that

      10      New York stands with all workers.

      11             The time has come to eliminate one of the

      12      last vestiges of Jim Crow, and for New York to make

      13      good its promise to be one of the most progressive

      14      and pro-labor states in the nation.

      15             That is why I, an NYCLU Suffolk Chapter board

      16      member, Charlotte Koons, strongly urge you to pass

      17      the Fair -- Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

      18      this session.

      19             Thank you.

      20                [Applause.]

      21             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,

      22      Michael Hurwitz.

      23             On deck, Dustin Bliss.

      24             MICHAEL HURWITZ:  I was going to say, good

      25      afternoon, but I think it's evening.


       1             So, good evening.

       2             And I truly appreciate the opportunity to

       3      speak to you about this important piece of

       4      legislation.

       5             I'm here today representing GrowNYC Green

       6      Markets, and also Harvest Home Farmers' Markets, two

       7      organizations that collectively will operate between

       8      65 to 75 farmers' markets this year in

       9      New York City, and who work with, roughly, 200

      10      New York State farms.

      11             We wholeheartedly support the intentions of

      12      Senate Bill 2837.

      13             The decision to exclude farmworkers from

      14      receiving the protections established for workers by

      15      the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was racially

      16      motivated and done to appease Jim Crow states.

      17             This exclusion needs to end immediately on

      18      the national level alongside the enactment of

      19      comprehensive immigration reform that recognizes the

      20      years of contributions made an immigrant

      21      agricultural workforce, provides a meaningful path

      22      to citizenship to those who desire it, and ensures

      23      that all farms from all parts of the country compete

      24      evenly.

      25             Farmworkers, citizen and immigrant,


       1      documented and undocumented, are entitled to

       2      respect, security, the dignity of productive work,

       3      and a living wage.

       4             We also believe that our small and mid-scale

       5      family farmers are not simply entitled to the same,

       6      but are fundamental components to ensuring a just,

       7      decentralized food system.

       8             Accordingly, the overtime provisions as

       9      proposed will devastate the long-term viability of

      10      the New York farming community, owner and employee

      11      alike, and further consolidate food wealth amongst a

      12      handful of corporations that currently dictate our

      13      industrial food system and are experiencing record

      14      profits, while the net profits for farms of all

      15      sizes have decreased over 50 percent in the last

      16      five years.

      17             To be clear, we are opposed solely, solely,

      18      to the overtime-pay provisions of the act as it is

      19      currently written.

      20             Green Market and Harvest Home farmers are in

      21      the forefront of diverse and sustainable production

      22      systems.

      23             They grow, on average, 49 types of produce,

      24      as compared to the nationwide average of six, using

      25      practices that range from no-till, to integrated


       1      pest management, and rotational management.

       2             These practices are labor-intensive and

       3      require specialized labor.

       4             With immediate implementation of an 8-hour

       5      per day, 40-hour per week, overtime provision, most

       6      of our farmers will face increasing labor costs by

       7      15 to 115 percent.

       8             These farms are not able to pass these costs

       9      on to consumers.

      10             Accordingly, the result would be the

      11      following:

      12             A shift away from labor-intensive,

      13      diversified specialty crop production towards more

      14      highly-mechanized commodity monocropping;

      15             The reduced production of local produce,

      16      including culturally-relevant foods, and the

      17      increase of importing food from unregulated farms;

      18             A reduction in individual farmworker hours

      19      and resulting income to avoid overtime premium

      20      payments, leading to even greater farmworker

      21      shortages;

      22             Increased unemployment in rural communities

      23      where farming is a major industry and unemployment

      24      is already high;

      25             Reduced chances of new farmers entering the


       1      agricultural business;

       2             Further, New York farm loss to developers,

       3      leading to environmental degradation, including

       4      water quality;

       5             The diminution of New York's food

       6      sovereignty, a significant risk in this era of

       7      climate change and political uncertainty;

       8             Market closures and the reduction in access

       9      to regional produce for city dwellers, particularly

      10      those shopping with limited budgets.

      11             When I first discovered agriculture, and the

      12      complexity of issues related to it, in 2000,

      13      I learned that the answers to who produces our food,

      14      how it's produced, and who has access to what types

      15      of food, determine whether our food system is just

      16      and equitable.

      17             And this legislation helps to define these

      18      answers.

      19             However, enacting it without addressing the

      20      financial solvency of our diversified farms will

      21      exacerbate inequity as it applies to healthy food

      22      access, with increased greenhouse gas emissions, and

      23      will ultimately lead to decreased opportunities for

      24      farm labor to earn meaningful incomes, while driving

      25      food wealth to those farms utilizing the most


       1      extractive models of production with regards to

       2      people and the environment.

       3             We look forward to working with the

       4      New York State Legislature and farmers, their

       5      employees, and the advocates on all sides of this

       6      issue, to create a sound policy that protects

       7      workers without putting farms out of business.

       8             So I thank you very much for your time and

       9      your consideration.

      10                [Applause.]

      11             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, Dustin Bliss.

      12             On deck, Bob Nolan.

      13             DUSTIN BLISS:  Good afternoon, Senators.

      14             My name is Dustin Bliss.  I'm from

      15      Cattaraugus County, New York.

      16             If you don't know where that's at, it's,

      17      pretty much, northern Pennsylvania, just south of

      18      Buffalo.

      19             I tried to come up with every excuse not to

      20      come today, but it's too important to my family and

      21      myself not to come.  It's very important to our

      22      future.

      23             My wife and I have a 500-cow dairy that is

      24      not in our family.

      25             We have three beautiful daughters that are 3,


       1      2, 1.

       2             I'm raising them to, hopefully, be just as

       3      feisty as the young lady down here that just spoke

       4      from the ACLU.

       5             We also have a son that's 2 months old, that

       6      was just born with Down Syndrome.

       7             I would like to thank you for this

       8      opportunity today, and commend you for your efforts

       9      to improve the lives of people, especially in our

      10      industry.

      11             Coming into agriculture, I never really had

      12      the experience to get to know people from other

      13      countries, especially immigrants.

      14             It humbles me to see their efforts, how hard

      15      they work, how intelligent they are, and I thank God

      16      every day that I was born on the right side of a

      17      political boundary that's afforded me the

      18      opportunities that I have, because the best

      19      employees that I have could have been doctors,

      20      lawyers, financiers, if they had some of the same

      21      opportunities of the other people in this country

      22      that were born here, today.

      23             However, I'm also a business owner, and

      24      I have to provide for my own family.

      25             Farmers can't handle the cost of the impact


       1      of this legislation, and farmworkers don't want it.

       2             The reason why I say that is, the guys that

       3      work for me want all the hours I will give them.

       4             About four years ago, (indiscernible) drop,

       5      I tried cutting hours back during the slow season.

       6             I had two employees quit, and I just felt

       7      that it -- the juice wasn't worth the squeeze, and

       8      I went back to giving them, pretty much, unlimited

       9      hours in made-work.

      10             That's not how you efficiently run a

      11      business, but I need these people.

      12             You know, my family relies on them as much as

      13      they rely on me.

      14             I take care of my employees very well.

      15             The gentleman I rode down here with can

      16      attest to this, because we're in a profit-discussion

      17      group through Cornell University where we share all

      18      our numbers.

      19             I pay my average farm employee about $55,000

      20      a year.  That does not include housing.

      21             And as a point of reference, in

      22      Cattaraugus County, the average -- well, the median

      23      household income for 2017 was $45,000.

      24             I know that my guys work a lot of hours, but

      25      I feel that, with the efforts they put in, they


       1      deserve the pay.

       2             I wish I could pay them $100,000, I really

       3      do.  You know, they work so hard.

       4             And the only reason we have migrants is

       5      because the local help is either employed in a

       6      different field that's easier work, or they just

       7      don't want to work on farms.

       8             The reason why I say farmers can't afford it

       9      is because we're price-takers, not price-makers.

      10             As a dairy farmer in Upstate New York, you

      11      know, we're producing about 40,000 pounds of milk a

      12      day.

      13             I can't just take my product to a farm market

      14      and sell it for a value-added price.

      15             I am forced to, basically, play the market.

      16             In the last four years, some things that have

      17      exacerbated, economically, the problems we're facing

      18      are a very strong dollar.

      19             It's hard to export milk to other countries

      20      when our dollar is strong and theirs is weak to

      21      ours.

      22             If you look at the Crimean incident, where

      23      Russia annexed Crimea from the Ukraine, and, you

      24      know, for good or bad, the Obama Administration

      25      slapped tariffs on them.  So they came back and hit


       1      the farmers because they know farmers are

       2      politically-sensitive, especially from the Midwest,

       3      and can put a squeeze on their elected officials.

       4             The Trump trade war has been especially tough

       5      on us.

       6             And the European Union ending their quota on

       7      dairy products has left a glut of milk on the

       8      international market that has just really put a

       9      squeeze on us.

      10             The last four years, myself, and the average

      11      dairy farmer in New York State, and probably

      12      nationally, has broke even to lost money.

      13             I can tell you that my wife and I -- I'm 33,

      14      she's 31 -- we've had to accumulate about

      15      $1.2 million worth of additional debt to keep our

      16      business going.

      17             And you can think this is insane, but it's

      18      what we do.  It's my reputation.

      19             I'm not going to let my vendors get stuck

      20      with a massive bill because I decided I couldn't

      21      take the economic pain and leave the industry.

      22             And I hope that I'm teaching my kids what

      23      it's like:  If you really want something in life,

      24      you work hard for it.

      25             I mean, this is really hard for me, and I get


       1      emotional about it, because I care for my employees.

       2             I mean, two Easters ago, when one of my

       3      Hispanic employee's, his wife had Lupus, and she was

       4      in the hospital, they had no babysitter.

       5             Guess who babysat their daughter for

       6      three days over Easter, took her to all of our

       7      family events?

       8             My Hispanic employees, right along with local

       9      employees, were at my wife and I's wedding.

      10             We have them over for dinner.

      11             We celebrate birthdays, we buy each other

      12      gifts.

      13             You know, we do everything we can, within

      14      reason, to take care of these folks.

      15             And I can't talk about anybody else.

      16             I'm appalled by, you know, even any story

      17      about an employee being abused, whether it's poor

      18      housing, rape, sexual harassment, one incident is

      19      one incident too many.

      20             I mean, I support this legislation in

      21      protecting workers, especially the most vulnerable,

      22      but the two things that I have a particular problem

      23      with this, are the paid overtime, and we need to

      24      have a strike clause.

      25             My cows have to get milked.


       1             We had some issues with two guys on the night

       2      shift not getting along.  They got into a fist

       3      fight.

       4             My rule is:  Nobody fights on the farm, or,

       5      there's no questions asked, you're fired.

       6             Well, guess who was milking the cows on the

       7      night shift?

       8             Myself and a couple other people, and we

       9      still had to do our stuff during the days.

      10             You know, I give them an 100 extra bucks if

      11      I have to call them in on the night shift, on top of

      12      their wages.

      13             I mean, I could ramble on for a really long

      14      time about this.

      15             But all this is going to do, in my mind, for

      16      the farmers that I know, is we're going to implement

      17      automation, if you can.  But, for myself, a robotic

      18      milking system would cost about $6 million, that

      19      I don't have.

      20             So it would force production out of the state

      21      because, since don't have -- aren't able to effect

      22      price that we get, the only way we can generate a

      23      profit, or break even in my life, is to keep our

      24      costs low.

      25             And when we have arbitrary price increases,


       1      my milk is no different than milk produced just

       2      south of the border in Pennsylvania, or just east of

       3      the border in Vermont, or New Zealand, for that

       4      matter.

       5             When those locations have, what do you want

       6      say, lower costs, labor being one of them, it just

       7      puts us at a disadvantage.

       8             You know, farms are under incredible stress.

       9             I've seen family farms, seventh generation,

      10      go out of business this past year.

      11             Not to be morbid or use someone as a prop,

      12      but a family friend yesterday hung herself from the

      13      barn.

      14             Come to find out, she had Parkinson's, and

      15      they had to sell their cows this spring.  And the

      16      culmination of all the stress is way too much.

      17             I would just ask for dignity for everyone

      18      here, the farmworkers and the farm owners.

      19             There's some things that you could do on our

      20      behalf, is help bring these people out of the

      21      shadows.  They can't go anywhere for fear of

      22      deportation.  They can't drive anywhere.

      23             As a regular human being, I would like them

      24      to have enjoyable, fulfilling lives, just like

      25      I have.


       1             So with that being said, if you have any

       2      pushback, any questions, I'm big boy, I can take a

       3      beating.

       4                [Applause.]

       5             SENATOR RAMOS:  I want to thank you for

       6      coming all the way here to give this testimony.

       7             DUSTIN BLISS:  Thank you.

       8             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

       9             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, Bob Nolan.

      10             On deck, Jennifer Rodgers Brown.

      11             BOB NOLAN:  Good evening.

      12             I'm Bob Nolan.

      13             My vegetable farm in Brookhaven,

      14      Senator Martinez, I'm in your district.

      15             So thank you for hosting this hearing, and

      16      for the other Senators who made the trip down here

      17      to Long Island.

      18             As you heard, there's a lot of farming still

      19      left here on Long Island.

      20             So, I'm just going to tell you a little bit

      21      about my story because, you know, there's a lot of

      22      things going around here, and I know what I do in my

      23      story, how this bill would affect me.

      24             My farm started the turn of the century,

      25      Middle Village, Queens.


       1             My great-grandfather came over from Germany.

       2             Then we moved a little further east to

       3      Valley Stream, and then Bethpage, and then finally

       4      into Brookhaven where I am now.

       5             Senator Savino talked about Hunts Point.

       6             We used to be a big -- I still go to

       7      Hunts Point, but I used to be a big producer at

       8      Hunts Point.  It used to be probably 80 percent of

       9      our business.

      10             But because other states, Pennsylvania,

      11      New Jersey, Canada, ship product in there, the same

      12      product that I grow, and I should say, I grow like

      13      25 different vegetable crops.  All the lettuces,

      14      herbs, beets, carrots, very labor-intensive

      15      intensive crops.

      16             So I can't ship my product in there and get a

      17      fair price where I can stay in business.

      18             And people wonder why the cost of production

      19      is more on Long Island, is because, to get materials

      20      here, you got to go through New York City.

      21             Trucking costs are higher.  Rent for land is

      22      higher.  Electricity is higher.  Taxes is higher.

      23             That's why our cost of production is higher

      24      here on Long Island.

      25             Plus, eventually, we'll have a $15 minimum


       1      wage.

       2             So I had to shift my business around from,

       3      you know, more lettuce, cabbage, spinach, to

       4      diversify more, to try to handle my current

       5      customers, which are local road stands and local

       6      businesses, to try to stay away from Hunts Point.

       7             And I had Farm Credit -- first of all, I'm in

       8      the H2A program.

       9             I have six workers who come from Mexico.

      10      They're lovely guys.  Been with me four or

      11      five years.  They're single, I mean, they come up by

      12      themselves, there's no family involved.

      13             They come up usually in April.  They go back

      14      in November when the harvest is done.

      15             And, they're just great guys.

      16             I take them shopping every Friday night.

      17             If they're injured, which they very rarely

      18      are, we take them to the emergency room.

      19             We treat them with respect, because -- and,

      20      you know, they love working for me because they come

      21      back every year.

      22             And I would invite every one of you to come

      23      to my farm and speak to them.

      24             So, the issue I have with this bill:

      25             Workers' comp, absolutely.


       1             All these other protections, absolutely.

       2             There's a lot of laws that protect the

       3      farmworkers already, absolutely.

       4             The two issues are, obviously:

       5             Collective bargaining.

       6             If you have to harvest something and they go

       7      on strike, you're going to lose it, because the

       8      crops we have are very perishable.  You know, you

       9      only get a very small window, especially in the

      10      summertime when it's hot.  Four or five days and the

      11      lettuce could shoot, and then you would lose it.

      12      You know, it would spoil, basically.

      13             The other issue is the overtime.

      14             I had -- Farm Credit does my payroll.

      15             Based on last year's numbers for 2018, if

      16      we -- if I would have had to pay overtime after

      17      40 hours, it would have been an additional $116,000

      18      in payroll.

      19             So I don't know how I could make that up if

      20      this bill would go through.

      21             I talked to my workers when they came, I told

      22      them about this bill.

      23             I said, you know, What do you guys think

      24      about it?

      25             I said, you know, Currently, it says


       1      40 hours.

       2             I says, and I can't afford to pay you

       3      overtime.  I'm paying $13.25 now, which is the H2A

       4      wage.  If it would go over 40 hours, it would be

       5      almost $20 an hour.

       6             And in the summertime, because now we're very

       7      busy between June and October, a lot of times

       8      they're working 65, 75 hours a week because you got

       9      to make it while you can, because there's no income

      10      November through April.

      11             So you got to really work lots of hours when

      12      you can to make ends meet.

      13             And my guys tell me, look, they're very happy

      14      to come up here.  They just want hours to work.

      15      They're not concerned with the overtime.  They just

      16      want the hours.

      17             And I would love to pay them $20 an hour, but

      18      I can't.  There's no way I can make that price up,

      19      especially with the global market in New York City

      20      that sets the price for a lot of these items.

      21             So, you know, I speak in opposition to this

      22      bill based on those two items.

      23             Absolutely, the other protections for the

      24      farmworkers, absolutely.

      25             And there's a lot of laws on the books


       1      already, and if they were enforced, I think things

       2      would be a lot better.

       3             So, thank you very much.

       4             I'll answer any questions if you have them.

       5             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Are there any questions?

       6             SENATOR METZGER:  No.

       7             Thank you very much.

       8             BOB NOLAN:  Thank you for your time.

       9             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you, Mr. Nolan.

      10             And my office will reach out.  I would

      11      definitely love to visit your farm, being in the

      12      district.

      13             BOB NOLAN:  Look forward to it.  Thank you.

      14             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      15             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,

      16      Jennifer Rodgers Brown.

      17             On deck, Reverend Marie Tetro.

      18             JENNIFER RODGERS BROWN:  Hello.

      19             I am Jennifer Rodgers Brown.

      20             I speak to you today as an environmental

      21      sociologist, a professor at LAU Post; a mother; a

      22      Long Island resident.  And on the -- I'm also on the

      23      board of Rural & Migrant Ministry.

      24             As you can see, there is a broad network of

      25      organizations supporting the Farmworker (sic) Fair


       1      Labor Practices Act, because they see it as not only

       2      a workers' rights issue, but also central to women's

       3      rights, environmental justice, food justice, and

       4      civil rights.

       5             In November 2017, Alianza Nacional de

       6      Campesinas wrote a letter in "Time" magazine on

       7      behalf of 700,000 farmworkers, and in support of the

       8      women in Hollywood who stood up against

       9      discrimination and sexual harassment in the

      10      entertainment industry.

      11             The letter states, quote, Even though we work

      12      in very different environments, we share a common

      13      experience.  Like you, there are few positions

      14      available to us, and reporting any kind of harm or

      15      injustice committed against us doesn't seem like a

      16      viable option, end quote.

      17             I ask, if we are truly trying to improve our

      18      institutions and workplaces in order to reduce

      19      sexual violence and discrimination, and support

      20      women who say "me too" and "time's up," how can we

      21      do so without extending collective bargaining rights

      22      to farmworkers?

      23             In -- January 17, 2018, farmworkers from

      24      across New York State came to Albany to give

      25      testimony on their working conditions at the


       1      Farmworker Fair Labor Human Rights hearing.

       2             It was my pleasure to join them that day in

       3      Albany.

       4             One of the men who spoke complained that he

       5      felt that, quote, the owners treat cows better than

       6      the workers, end quote.

       7             His testimony detailed his housing situation,

       8      a trailer that houses eight people with bugs and

       9      mice;

      10             His experience getting injured by a cow,

      11      flattening his hand, with no help from the employer,

      12      no insurance, and no days off;

      13             Witnessing a co-worker die by getting stuck

      14      in a machine;

      15             And being fired after organizing a protest

      16      against a manager who assaulted another worker.

      17             At the hearing we also heard from a New York

      18      farmworker, and mother, who gave testimony that

      19      captures the disproportionate impact of no time off

      20      on women.

      21             She was forced to ask for time off because

      22      one of her young daughters has a medical condition.

      23             She stated, quote, As a mother, I asked for

      24      permission to take my children to doctors'

      25      appointments and school meetings, but he, the


       1      supervisor, does not like that.  He would say that

       2      I don't like to work, and that is why I am asking

       3      for so much time off.

       4             I deserve to ask for a day off and be able to

       5      have one, just like any other industry in

       6      New York State.

       7             Her words, in particular, resonated with me.

       8             I take for granted, that when I get that

       9      phone call -- we all know -- from my child's

      10      preschool, I can stop work and run to pick him up.

      11             And when I worked at a popular restaurant,

      12      I had a right to overtime pay, and this happened

      13      regardless of the holiday season when we had a lot

      14      of people coming into that restaurant.

      15             No industry should rely on the exploitation

      16      of its workers in order to survive and profit.

      17             We can find other ways to support the farming

      18      industry, and I really hope we do.

      19             It is vitally important, though, that we pass

      20      this bill.

      21             Thank you.

      22                [Applause.]

      23             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,

      24      Reverend Marie Tetro.

      25             On deck, Keith Kimball.


       1             REVEREND MARIE TETRO:  I'll try to be quick.

       2      You're probably hungry and tired.

       3             My colleague Franco Floro (ph.) is the

       4      program director for Episcopal Ministries of

       5      Long Island, and she had to leave, so I'm reading

       6      her statement, very lightly edited by myself.

       7             We are with the Episcopal Diocese of

       8      Long Island, and we're here today to amplify the

       9      voices of the many faithful members of our parishes.

      10             Our diocese spans from the Brooklyn Bridge to

      11      Montauk Point.

      12             We feel strongly that men and women who are

      13      dedicating themselves each and every day to an

      14      honest day's work should receive the same rights,

      15      benefits, and privileges as everyone else here in

      16      this room today.

      17             It's our belief that this discrepancy in

      18      labor protections and human rights in New York State

      19      is a disgrace, and confirms the reality of the

      20      systemic issues in our country that place more value

      21      on some human lives above others.

      22             Human rights are more than just feelings.

      23             We're here to appeal to you to move to

      24      dismantle the inequities that these workers face.

      25             This is the time for people in positions of


       1      power, like yourselves, to address the moral

       2      failings of our democracy and take action that will

       3      help heal and unite people across social, cultural,

       4      and economic barriers.

       5             The time is now to pass the Farmworker (sic)

       6      Labor -- Fair Labor Practices Act so that you can

       7      affirm our belief that our work is noble, that all

       8      people living and working in the United States

       9      should have access to the same employment privileges

      10      that allow them to live with dignity and equal

      11      opportunity, and of those who put food on the table

      12      and to help us to enjoy the comforts of our society,

      13      be treated with the care and respect they deserve,

      14      and be compensated accordingly.

      15             Many who -- here who spoke against this

      16      legislation have implied that we haven't thought

      17      this through and that we're rushing into it.

      18             I don't think 80 years of injustice is

      19      rushing into anything, nor is 25 years of fierce

      20      advocacy by Rural & Migrant Ministries, and

      21      conversations among many people at the table, is --

      22      I don't think that's a hasty enterprise.

      23             And as Senator Savino pointed out earlier, if

      24      the employers here, you know, and I'm going to take

      25      their word for it, treat their workers as they


       1      testified, this law should not hurt them, but codify

       2      what's right and what they're already doing.

       3             So, please do what is necessary to right a

       4      wrong that has continued for far too long.

       5             Thank you very much.

       6                [Applause.]

       7             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, Keith Kimball.

       8             On deck, Peter Allen.

       9             KEITH KIMBALL:  Senators, thank you for

      10      taking the time to hear my thoughts today, and thank

      11      you for putting this together.

      12             Thank you for being here.

      13             I'm impressed by how many of you are here,

      14      and I think this is -- having this hearing is an

      15      important critical piece of the process.

      16             So, thank you for that.

      17             I am a dairy farmer from Livingston County,

      18      New York.  I grew on a dairy farm in Massachusetts.

      19             In 2003 I started my own dairy on a leased

      20      facility in New Hampshire.

      21             In 2012 I moved to Livingston County, where

      22      I currently milk 880 cows, and have 14 full-time

      23      employees.

      24             I was offered an opportunity, and I was able

      25      to take advantage of that opportunity, through


       1      planning, assistance, and long hours.

       2             I've been successful because of the people

       3      that were willing to work with me and work for me.

       4             Without them, I would not be able to do what

       5      I do.  I'm fully aware of that.

       6             Without that opportunity, they are not --

       7      they would not be willing to do what they do.

       8             I have people working with me that are

       9      ambitious, eager, dedicated, and driven to succeed.

      10             Their definition of success and mine are the

      11      same:  They want to create opportunities for

      12      themselves and their families, and that is what I'm

      13      able to provide.

      14             I understand where this labor bill is coming

      15      from.  I recognize that there is a scenario where

      16      this labor bill is necessary.

      17             I, however, do not think that scenario exists

      18      here in New York State.

      19             All the farmers that I know have their

      20      employees as a top priority.  They understand that

      21      their success is dependent on taking care of their

      22      employees.

      23             We need to take care of our employees so they

      24      take care of our livestock, of our crops, and of our

      25      facilities.


       1             It doesn't work the other way around.

       2             We are not successful if we do not take care

       3      of our employees.

       4             If we cheat our employees, paid them

       5      unfairly, didn't allow for quality of life, they

       6      simply wouldn't be willing to help us accomplish our

       7      goals.

       8             The most successful people in life are the

       9      ones that can work together as a team; they help us

      10      achieve our goals, we help them achieve their goals.

      11             Our employees are not asking for 40 hours a

      12      week.  They are asking us to provide them with an

      13      opportunity to help better themselves.

      14             This is not unique to our industry.

      15             If time and a half simply meant our employees

      16      make more money, that would be great.

      17             Time and a half -- the reality is, that if

      18      this bill goes through as written, hours will be

      19      cut.  You will be asking employees to take a second

      20      job.

      21             This is not unheard of either.

      22             Many people do this when there is a need or

      23      desire to improve their situation or their lot in

      24      life.

      25             This bill just means they won't be able to do


       1      that with their current employers.

       2             This bill means H2A employees will not be

       3      willing to come to New York.

       4             They need more -- their hours would be cut,

       5      so they would need more months to make the same

       6      living -- earn the same money that they're currently

       7      making.

       8             I don't think that's a deal they are willing

       9      to take.  They'll go somewhere else.

      10             I wish it was as simple as pay more, charge

      11      more.

      12             That's not how it works in commodity markets.

      13             We are in direct competition with our

      14      neighboring states and our neighboring countries.

      15             If the same rules don't apply, that puts us

      16      at an unfair disadvantage.  That means the

      17      production goes elsewhere.

      18             It happens in every industry:  You make it

      19      where you can make it most economically.

      20             That means, forget about the local movement.

      21             Food will be imported from other states and

      22      other countries.

      23             That means, forget about having more control

      24      over how your food is made.

      25             I don't think other countries will ask us


       1      what standards would we like them to hold their

       2      farmers to.

       3             I feel differently about importing my car

       4      than I do about importing my food.

       5             I'd ask you all to consider what the

       6      consequences are.

       7             I'd ask you to consider that most employers

       8      are treating their employees the right way, and the

       9      ones that aren't won't have employees for long.

      10             Like I said, I understand that there could be

      11      a scenario where this bill is relevant.

      12             I don't think that scenario exists here.

      13             I'm asking you to trust the people that own

      14      and run these businesses and drive the economy.

      15             And I'm asking to you trust the employees

      16      that work for them, and are providing quality

      17      products and driving this economy.

      18             They're strong, independent, and capable of

      19      taking care of themselves.

      20             Don't make it harder for employees to take

      21      advantage of opportunities to make a better life for

      22      themselves.

      23             I understand, when you guys leave this

      24      hearing today, you have to sift through all this

      25      testimony, and you have to decide which testimony do


       1      you believe and which testimony not to believe.

       2             I would encourage to you get out to our

       3      farms, to meet our employees, meet with us, and make

       4      this decision based on facts, not based on who stood

       5      up here and gave the most compelling testimony.

       6             Thanks for your time.

       7             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you so much.

       8             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, Peter Allen.

       9             On deck, Norman Keel (ph.).

      10             PETER ALLEN:  Hello.

      11             Thank you for your time, thank you for coming

      12      out to Long Island.

      13             I represent a company called Van de Wetering

      14      Greenhouses.  This is my extended family.

      15             My grandfather immigrated to America from the

      16      Netherlands right after World War II, and he brought

      17      his family of 10 over, and set up shop in a small

      18      apartment in New York City, and the family

      19      experienced the immigrant's experience.

      20             They had to pool their money to get by.

      21             And over time, two of his children, my

      22      uncles, were able to save up and buy a small plot of

      23      land out in the east end and grow tomatoes in the

      24      1960s.

      25             And with help with Cornell, they were advised


       1      that maybe you should go into bedding plants.  It's

       2      a new, up-and-coming industry.

       3             And they did, and the business grew, and it

       4      grew over time.

       5             And eventually, their families, individuals'

       6      families, grew, and the company split into two large

       7      horticultural companies on the east end:  Ivy Acres

       8      and Van de Wetering Greenhouses.

       9             And now I work for my cousins, and we are

      10      very respectful of our employees because, if we

      11      didn't have them, we would not be in business.

      12             And, unlike many of the other farmers out

      13      here, we do most of our business inside a greenhouse

      14      in the middle of winter.

      15             Nine, to eight months, out of the year, we

      16      support 50 employees, full-time, year-round.

      17             Sometimes we have times where we require

      18      overtime, but most of the time in that 8 to

      19      9 months, it's a 40-hour week.  We can schedule

      20      work, we schedule employees, we schedule weekends.

      21             But we have three to four months out of the

      22      year where we employ upwards of 178 employees, all

      23      seasonal.

      24             We give all these employees all the rights

      25      that are required by law.


       1             We give benefits.

       2             We give time off.

       3             We do not require people to be here seven

       4      days a week, but we have worked seven days a week at

       5      peak.

       6             We grow live products.

       7             If we do not spray water or care for that

       8      product, they die.

       9             What we produce is young starter plants.

      10             These young starter plants are, basically, a

      11      just-in-time product that we deliver to other farms

      12      and wholesale greenhouses across the country.

      13             I'm proud to say we have delivered plants or

      14      exported plants out of New York State to 50 -- all

      15      50 other states.

      16             We have not done anything international.

      17      A lot of rules and regulation to do that.

      18             Most of our product gets shipped on our

      19      trucks.

      20             For the states that are furthest away, even

      21      as California, Hawaii, and Alaska, we're able to

      22      ship our product via FedEx.

      23             However, we compete with wholesale businesses

      24      all over the country.

      25             We have very little direct competition of


       1      other suppliers in New York State.

       2             So we are, you know, a New York State

       3      exporter.

       4             If we -- the position of Van de Wetering is

       5      that we do not support the bill because, in that

       6      peak week when we employ 178 employees, our labor

       7      costs would jump over 20 percent.

       8             Doing so would not allow us to compete

       9      effectively nationwide, because that's what we do.

      10             Since the changes already in minimum wage,

      11      price increases, and so forth, we have already been

      12      actively changing our product mix, reducing product,

      13      eliminating product, so that we produce, that have a

      14      high labor cost, or have a lot high-labor element to

      15      produce.

      16             And we have reduced our employees already,

      17      from 178 employees at a high in 2017, to this year

      18      our high peak was 130.

      19             If the progression of labor cost continues,

      20      including the overtime provision, we'll have to

      21      continue reducing what we do, automate more, and

      22      nationally employ less people.

      23             So we feel the intention of trying to help

      24      the labor, and pay them more money, will actually

      25      reduce the amount of employees that we hire.


       1             And what I'd like to think, as I know I've

       2      heard a lot of abuses that were stated from other

       3      advocates, Van de Wetering Greenhouses happens to be

       4      a fairly large operation that works on 40 acres of

       5      land.

       6             We have the ability to have an HR department.

       7             We make sure all our employees go through

       8      worker-safety training.  Watch videos on sexual

       9      harassment.

      10             We have a non-family member who runs HR,

      11      who's available to speak with in case there's any

      12      complaints amongst other employees, management, or

      13      anyone else in the company.

      14             And we also have Jose Vega come by and speak

      15      independently with all our people.

      16             He should really be here.

      17             I'm actually very surprised to hear all the

      18      abuses that I've heard from the other side who are

      19      supporting the bill, because that is not my

      20      experience on Long Island, that's not my experience

      21      with my fellow farmers.

      22             And it's a shame to hear that.

      23             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      24             And we appreciate you coming down and sharing

      25      your story as well.


       1             PETER ALLEN:  And, again, if you come out to

       2      Riverhead, please stop by.  We'd be happy to show

       3      you.

       4             You know what?  Right now is when we're at

       5      the busiest.

       6             If you come four months from now, it's a

       7      ghost town.

       8             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Agreed.

       9             PETER ALLEN:  Thank you.

      10             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      11             So I know that we have a couple more to go.

      12             Just being very cognizant of the time, it is

      13      now 6:11, and I do really want to give everyone who

      14      is still waiting an opportunity.

      15             So please be cognizant of the three minutes.

      16             I don't want to shut you down while you're

      17      speaking, so please just be careful of that.

      18             Thank you.

      19             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking Norman Keel.

      20             On deck --

      21             OFF-CAMERA SPEAKER:  He left.

      22             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,

      23      Alejandro (sic) Sorto.

      24             On deck, James Glover.

      25             OFF-CAMERA SPEAKER:  I think it's


       1      James Glover who left as well.

       2             OFF-CAMERA SPEAKER:  Yes.

       3             ROSS SLOTNICK:  On deck,

       4      Myles Karitchiolo (ph.).

       5             ALEJANDRA SORTO:  Good evening.

       6             My name is Alejandra Sorto, and I'm the

       7      director of civic engagement and organizing for

       8      Hispanic Federation.

       9             Chairs Metzger and Ramos,

      10      Senator Monica Martinez, and Committee members,

      11      thank you for allowing us the opportunity to testify

      12      on behalf of Hispanic Federation and our 100 member

      13      agencies.

      14             With the interest of the Latino community at

      15      stake, we are here today to express our strong

      16      support for passage of the New York State

      17      Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act.

      18             Farmworkers labor under harsh conditions and

      19      engage in intensive physical activity to feed all of

      20      us, yet they are exempt from several fundamental

      21      rights and protections that are afforded to other

      22      workers.

      23             An estimated eighty to a hundred thousand

      24      farm laborers in New York are currently excluded

      25      from basic labor protections under state and federal


       1      law.

       2             The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

       3      would ensure that the conditions in which

       4      farmworkers labor are more safe, sanitary, and

       5      humane.

       6             By passing this act, New York would reinforce

       7      the need for laws protecting farmworkers and our

       8      workforce.

       9             New York can pave the way for other states to

      10      pass progressive labor policies that are good for

      11      our community and our economy.

      12             Nearly 80 years have passed since

      13      Jim Crow Era racial bias caused farmworkers to be

      14      excluded from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act,

      15      yet New York has perpetuated the occlusion (sic) of

      16      farmworkers from labor rights, while the State

      17      continues to have one of the nation's largest and

      18      most robust agricultural economies.

      19             In 2017, New York farms generated over

      20      4.8 billion in revenue and contributed nearly

      21      2.4 billion to our gross domestic product.

      22             As many of our farmers see their economic

      23      situation improving, many of our farmworkers do not.

      24             These workers, many of them immigrants, some

      25      of them undocumented, work 60 to 80 hours a week


       1      without workers' compensation, without being paid

       2      overtime, and face exploitation and oppression on a

       3      regular basis.  They are also denied the right to

       4      organize and bargain, which is guaranteed to

       5      employees under the New York State Constitution.

       6             To deny this already vulnerable population

       7      the equal access to protections and benefits in

       8      their place of work contradicts our values as a

       9      state and as a country.

      10             By protecting our farmworkers, New York can

      11      continue to position itself as one of the largest

      12      economies in the world while reaping the benefits of

      13      increased economic opportunities for its workers and

      14      their families.

      15             This is not about putting farmworkers ahead

      16      of farms.

      17             It's about lifting an entire industry in our

      18      great state.

      19             It's about our basic human rights, and

      20      ensuring that farmworkers will be treated humanely,

      21      with dignity and respect.

      22             We urge our State Legislature and the

      23      Governor to pass into law the Farmworkers Fair Labor

      24      Practices Act before the end of the 2019 legislative

      25      session.


       1             We are counting on your leadership to guide

       2      New York in the right direction, and help remove the

       3      statutory exclusions that deny farmworkers the right

       4      to collective bargaining, a day of rest, overtime

       5      pay, disability and unemployment insurance, and

       6      other fundamental rights bestowed upon all other

       7      workers in the state.

       8             The Hispanic Federation would like to thank

       9      you for inviting to us to share this testimony with

      10      you.

      11             It's critically important for New York State

      12      legislator (sic) to continue to lead efforts to

      13      ensure that farmworkers have access to what they

      14      need to sustain a quality of life in the great state

      15      of New York.

      16             Let 2019 be the year that marks the end of

      17      the shameful legacy of exclusion, and allows us to

      18      say, with moral certainty, that New York honors the

      19      dignity for all.

      20             Thank you.

      21                [Applause.]

      22             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      23             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,

      24      Miles Karitchiolo.

      25             On deck, Aletha Domionos (ph.)(sic).


       1             MILES KARITCHIOLA:  Good evening.

       2             I'd like to thank you for taking the time to

       3      come down to Long Island to speak with us today.

       4             Again, my name is Miles Karitchiolo, and I'm

       5      a -- well, I guess, I'm a soon-to-be farm owner,

       6      whenever my dad chooses to retire.

       7             But I'm also a farmworker.

       8             And I think that's something, among a few

       9      other things, that's kind of being missed here

      10      today, is that most farm owners, especially those

      11      within -- that operate family farms, and their

      12      family members, we're the ones that are there,

      13      regardless of the weather, you know, regardless of

      14      what time of day it is.  You know, we're the first

      15      in, last out, and we're working hard to make sure

      16      that we can provide for ourselves and our employees,

      17      as a whole.

      18             You know, we have a lot of employees with us

      19      that have been loyal for many years, two of which

      20      have known me since I was born.

      21             And they really are like family to me.

      22             And I want to do my best to provide for them,

      23      as well as myself and my family.

      24             I wanted to kind of -- sorry, I'm a little

      25      nervous, and I'm trying to think of things to say


       1      because a lot of the speakers had already kind of

       2      covered a lot of the things I wanted to touch on.

       3             But, I think the biggest issue with this

       4      bill, on behalf of farmworkers -- or, farm owners,

       5      rather, is that it kind -- the bill's going -- is

       6      attacking -- not attacking, I'm sorry -- it's trying

       7      to solve two separate issues under one umbrella, and

       8      it's causing issues because, as a farm owner,

       9      I support every part of legislation that seeks to

      10      empower farmworkers and guarantee them their rights,

      11      because I think that's something that they deserve.

      12             They're some of the hardest-working people in

      13      any industry, due to the nature of the work, and

      14      they should have all of those, you know, rights as

      15      available as any other industry.

      16             But where they kind of -- where they

      17      deviate -- or, where I deviate from that support, is

      18      where it touches upon overtime and collective

      19      bargaining.

      20             A lot of people are talking about, you know,

      21      other industries, other sectors, you know, like

      22      construction or restaurants, or work of that nature.

      23             And the thing there is, those businesses go

      24      year-round, and their employees would work somewhere

      25      in the ballpark of 2,000 hours annually, if you


       1      account for, you know, 52 weeks a year, with two

       2      weeks paid vacation.  I mean, you could say 1960 if

       3      they also have five days of paid holiday.

       4             But, for us, we work 46 weeks a year.  And,

       5      on average, our employees work 1750 to 1900 hours,

       6      which is less hours.

       7             But if this was -- if bill was to come into

       8      effect as it stands, we'd be cutting that to

       9      40 hours a week, and we'd be losing a lot of our

      10      employees because they need more hours, they need to

      11      make more money.

      12             And we can't really do that if this, you

      13      know, time and a half past 40 hours comes to be.

      14             And as for the collective bargaining, the

      15      biggest point of contention is, should the workers

      16      choose to strike during time of harvest, which is

      17      incredibly damaging to us, to our customers, and to

      18      our vendors if we're are not able to pay bills

      19      because of that, and also because, you know, during

      20      that time of harvest, for us, we're a nursery, and

      21      during that time of year -- or, in the spring, we're

      22      harvesting before we can make any money.

      23             You know, we're trying to get things out of

      24      the ground, get things dug, get them sent out, so

      25      that we can make money to pay people.


       1             And I'm sorry I was a little scattered, but

       2      I was trying to figure out a few different things to

       3      touch upon that hadn't been said already by my

       4      peers.

       5             But, again, I'd like to thank you for your

       6      time.

       7             And if you have any questions, I'd be more

       8      than happy to answer them.

       9             Thanks.

      10             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,

      11      Alecia (ph.) Domionos.

      12             OFF-CAMERA SPEAKER:  She left.

      13             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,

      14      Nick Lamort (ph.).

      15             OFF-CAMERA SPEAKER:  He left too.

      16             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking --

      17             I'm sorry for the pronunciation, the

      18      handwriting is tough.

      19             -- Sig -- Signif -- Signal?  Signid?

      20      Sigfried, maybe?

      21             Okay.

      22             Now speaking, Christian Bays (ph.).

      23             And on deck, Claire de Voich (ph.).

      24             CHRISTIAN BAYS:  That's what happens when you

      25      farm too long, you start getting lame.


       1                [Laughter.]

       2             CHRISTIAN BAYS:  Thank you all very much.

       3             My name is Christian Bays.  My wife, our

       4      daughter, and I operate the family farm that is now

       5      in its 101st year in our family.

       6             My great-grandmother bought the old field out

       7      in Southold right at the end of World War I.

       8             For the last 25 years, the three of us have

       9      attempted to keep it going and in the family.

      10             And here, basically, is the big problem for

      11      Long Island farms, and that is our costs, especially

      12      our cost of land.

      13             Several years ago, Joe Gergela, when he was

      14      executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau,

      15      had the deputy secretary of the United States

      16      Department of Agriculture visit out here.

      17             And we were all sitting at lunch, and

      18      Tim Bishop was sitting at my right side, and the

      19      deputy secretary was right across the table from me.

      20             And so nobody knew what to say because this

      21      was, you know, a high and mighty, oh, my God, it's

      22      somebody from Washington.

      23             And so being very shy and retreating, on my

      24      own I turned to the secretary and asked her, Can you

      25      tell us where else in the United States of America


       1      agriculture has to operate in a land-cost

       2      environment of $100,000 to $1 million an acre?

       3             She thought about it for a moment, and then

       4      said, "Well, there are a few places in the

       5      Hawaiian Islands."

       6             So, right off the top, our biggest issue, if

       7      we're going to protect our farmlands and keep them,

       8      we have to pay a high-and-mighty price for it.

       9             When my wife and I bought the old field out

      10      of the family heirs 25 years ago, back then, it cost

      11      us $90,000 an acre, because we had to assuage the

      12      heirs who just wanted to be paid off.

      13             Net result is, that you take that

      14      $100,000-an-acre farmland out here and you go ahead

      15      and you mortgage it for 75 percent, with your

      16      $25,000 down, if you happen to have it in your hip

      17      pocket, and you go to Farm Credit East and ask them

      18      to bank it for you.

      19             And the next thing you know, with just

      20      principal and interest, it's 7500 bucks a year P&I

      21      for your land, per acre.

      22             So if you've got 10 acres, it's 75,000.

      23             If you got 20 acres, it's 150,000.

      24             And so here's the arithmetic on simple

      25      Agriculture Economics 101.


       1             This is a five-pound bag of potatoes I just

       2      got at the local supermarket.

       3             $4.99 for five pounds.  A dollar a pound.

       4             If you take one pound out of the bottom of

       5      this, a farmer is getting 20 cents out of every

       6      pound.

       7             A pound is a dollar here.

       8             The farmer is getting 20 cents.

       9             He ships it to the packer.

      10             The packer and the grocer take the other

      11      80 cents a pound.

      12             That is one of the fundamental problems for

      13      agriculture.

      14             Now, I can go on just about the simple stuff

      15      of the practicality of agriculture.

      16             I also think that, in some respects, as I've

      17      been listening to the discussion here back and

      18      forth, I think, in some respects, and I speak, in

      19      part, as a member of Southold town's agricultural

      20      advisory committee, because we've been negotiating

      21      like hell to get our own zoning codes upscale so

      22      that we can continue to farm into the future in this

      23      high-cost environment.

      24             But, in some respects, I think this

      25      legislation is a little bit misguided.


       1             Yes, it's going to serve that moral feel-good

       2      feeling about our workers.

       3             But, you know, I got guys that want to work

       4      for me.

       5             And last Thursday they called me up and said,

       6      Mr. Chris, can we come work for you on Easter

       7      Sunday because we don't want to be left alone?

       8             And so I said, Come on in.

       9             And I put a crew to work on my farm for

      10      Easter Sunday.

      11             I fed them.

      12             I pay them the going rate for -- the 13 bucks

      13      an hour.  One guy gets 16 bucks an hour.

      14             And I also feed them.  And I spend about

      15      18 to 20 dollars a day, per man, on food for them.

      16             So, I mean, where I think the legislation is

      17      slipped a little bit with meeting the community

      18      needs, is that we need to be able to have these

      19      folks operate on our lands.

      20             They send their money home to Guatemala,

      21      El Salvador.

      22             The guy that used to work for me for years,

      23      he's got a bigger farm back home in Guatemala now

      24      than I do, because he saved all his money that

      25      I paid him.  And he's back there.


       1             The other side of this equation for you all,

       2      is that, yeah, you feel great because you got this

       3      legislation passed, and you think you're doing the

       4      worker a lot of good, but you're going to put

       5      thousands of family farms in the state of New York

       6      underwater, if not out of business, by doing so.

       7             And so somebody said something earlier that

       8      I think hit the mark:  We've got to get out from the

       9      dark cloud of where we are with all of our workers.

      10             And we do have to -- I think a lot of these

      11      people get a ton of respect.

      12             I'm surprised and shocked at all of the other

      13      detail of the savagery, if you will, that goes on.

      14             But, let's get the legislation a little bit

      15      better focused so that it's helping everybody,

      16      rather than just saying, well, we're going to lay

      17      this on top of you --

      18             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      19             CHRISTIAN BAYS:  -- and you guys eat it and

      20      try to stay in business.

      21             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      22             And we appreciate you coming and letting us

      23      know your take on this.

      24             And I believe this is our last speaker?

      25             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking,


       1      Claire de Voich (sic).

       2             CLAIRE de ROCHE (ph.):  Good afternoon.

       3             ROSS SLOTNICK:  And then Gil Bernardino.

       4             CLAIRE de ROCHE (ph.):  Oh, sorry.

       5             Good afternoon.

       6             My name is Claire de Roche (ph.).  I'm here

       7      to speak on behalf of the public issues committee of

       8      the Long Island Council of Churches.

       9             First of all, thank you very much for having

      10      this hearing, Senator Martinez.

      11             Thank you to the members of the Committee

      12      that are here today.

      13             Farmworkers provide the food that sustains

      14      our life, yet our country has a long history of

      15      undervaluing their work and treating them unjustly.

      16             Because they were not included in the labor

      17      rights legislation of the New Deal, they have

      18      struggled for decades to have their rights for fair

      19      treatment recognized.

      20             Unfortunately, this is still the struggle of

      21      farmworkers in New York State, where Jim Crow Era

      22      labor legislation denies them a guaranteed day of

      23      rest each week, the right to overtime compensation,

      24      and unemployment insurance, and the right to bargain

      25      collectively.


       1             This afternoon I have heard the comments of

       2      the farmers of Long Island, and I am so happy to

       3      hear that they are treating their workers well.

       4             But we're talking here about legislation for

       5      the entire state of New York, and there are

       6      certainly many places in New York where farmworkers

       7      are not treated the way they are treated here on

       8      Long Island.

       9             So we are here to support this legislation so

      10      that every farmworker receives just and fair

      11      treatment.

      12             The agricultural sector of the New York State

      13      economy is one of the largest and most successful in

      14      the country.

      15             With an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 migrant,

      16      seasonal, and dairy workers laboring on New York

      17      farms, the state rates among the top agricultural

      18      states in the country.

      19             And as you've heard before, the value of this

      20      sector is -- was $5.05 billion in 2016.

      21             The Long Island Council of -- excuse me.

      22             The public issues committee of the

      23      Long Island Council of Churches supports the

      24      Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act because we

      25      believe that it is time to correct the injustices of


       1      current New York State labor law.

       2             As people of faith, we see this as a moral

       3      question:  Do our sisters and brothers who labor

       4      long hours, often under dangerous conditions, to

       5      bring food to our tables deserve to be treated

       6      fairly?

       7             We can only answer a resounding "yes" to this

       8      question.

       9             Thank you.

      10             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      11             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, Gil Bernardino.

      12             On deck, Lisa Zucker.

      13             GIL BERNARDINO:  Good afternoon.  Buenas

      14      tardes.

      15             Thank you for having this hearing, it's good.

      16      I was waiting for it for many years.

      17             I am the founder and executive director of

      18      C�rculo de la Hispanidad, a non-profit organization

      19      that I founded over 40 years ago in Ulster County.

      20             It's maybe the largest not-for profit

      21      organization of Hispanic on Long Island.

      22             I'm a son of a farmer in my country, Spain.

      23      I had to work in my family's farm (indiscernible)

      24      when I went to my town from the school in the city

      25      where I was studying.


       1             My ancestors were farmers.

       2             I have a high respect for farmers and

       3      farmworkers.

       4             The fact is that, in spite of some farmers do

       5      treat farmworkers with dignity, it has been my

       6      experience with farmworkers in New York State that

       7      their conditions are one of exploitation, and

       8      listening to them, their stories sounds to me like

       9      they are the slaves of the twenty-first century in

      10      our state.

      11             Unacceptable.  Immoral.

      12             Farmers have the right to receive a fair

      13      price for their product, never at the expense or the

      14      rights of farmers (sic).

      15             The issue that I heard before about weather

      16      and the problems, I understand.  I do understand.

      17             But those problems also they have other

      18      businesses, like construction, and construction

      19      workers.  They don't want to hear about that.  They

      20      receive their compensation when they work overtime.

      21             Government that support for the rights of

      22      farmworkers decrease the profits and the farms will

      23      disappear is totally unacceptable.

      24             Raise your price of your produce, and that's

      25      what business do.


       1             As the government (indiscernible) to support

       2      the farms, the price of your produce needs to be

       3      increased.

       4             Let's not blame the respect or the dignity of

       5      farmworkers for the survival of farms.

       6             Let's find, there need to be other

       7      alternatives, from a fair price or -- and protect

       8      the survival of farms.

       9             The rights of farmworkers must be protected

      10      and supported by our government.

      11             Now, the government does not, and I hope they

      12      will.

      13             Gracias.  Thank you.

      14             Do you have any questions?

      15             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      16             No, I think we're good.

      17             CHRISTIAN BAYS:  Okay.

      18             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      19             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Now speaking, Lisa Zucker.

      20             On deck, Chris Wahlburt (ph.).

      21             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Ross, what card number are

      22      we on?  I thought that was the last speaker.

      23             ROSS SLOTNICK:  This is the final --

      24      following Lisa will be the final card.

      25             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.


       1             LISA ZUCKER:  I don't have a prepared

       2      statement.

       3             I'm just -- actually wanted to speak today to

       4      respond to some of the things that I've heard today.

       5             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

       6             LISA ZUCKER:  My name is Lisa Zucker.

       7             Thank you all, Senators, for holding this

       8      hearing today.

       9             I am an attorney with the New York Civil

      10      Liberties Union, and part of the Justice for

      11      Farmworkers Campaign.

      12             But I've also been working on this issue for

      13      the past six years as the co-chair of my economic

      14      justice group at Congregation B'Nai Jeshurun.

      15             Many of members actually have homes out here

      16      in Suffolk and vote our here as well.

      17             For the past four hours, yeah, four hours,

      18      we've been listening to testimony about farm -- both

      19      from farmers and from farmworkers who are suffering.

      20             I've heard the farmers loud and clear about

      21      their problems regarding taxes and seed price and

      22      fuel and Trump trade tariffs, exchange rates, the

      23      cost of land.

      24             And I -- and we all sympathize.

      25             But we've also heard how farmworkers are


       1      suffering in this state.

       2             And I put to you, today this is false choice.

       3             Something that I think really needs to be

       4      said, this is a false choice.

       5             If farmers are struggling, State of New York,

       6      you, Senators, Governor Cuomo if you're listening,

       7      do more for them.  Do more for these farmers.

       8             Maybe they need more tax credits.

       9             Maybe they need some kind of subsidies.

      10             I mean, we've all heard about the price of

      11      dairy is -- you know, obviously, is contributing to

      12      dairy farms going out of business.

      13             I say, do something for the farmers, but

      14      don't do it on the backs of farmworkers.

      15             I have to say that I've also looked at

      16      budget, the -- Cuomo's budget.

      17             There have been $33 million allocated for

      18      farm programs this year.

      19             Maybe they need more.

      20             Maybe -- as I said, maybe they need some tax

      21      break.

      22             No one here would object to that, I don't

      23      think.

      24             But you have -- but everyone has to

      25      understand, businesses, as a whole, they close, they


       1      open.

       2             I mean, we can talk about -- we can talk

       3      about Amazon's effect on the economy.

       4             There have been hundreds of thousands of

       5      mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar stores that have gone

       6      out because of online retail.

       7             Right?

       8             Nobody is saying, you know what, mom-and-pop

       9      businesses?  We care about you, which people say

      10      that, "we care about you."  But nobody is saying, so

      11      we're going to help you by denying your workers the

      12      right to overtime or collective bargaining.

      13             That just isn't the way it works here, and

      14      I think that that needs to be said.

      15             I also have heard many farmers here talk

      16      about how they pay their employees over minimum

      17      wage.

      18             And I definitely listened to Professor Gray

      19      when she said that so many of these farmers, and we

      20      know, because we've hear them testify, are smart,

      21      good business people.

      22             I think simple math would say, if you're

      23      paying somebody over minimum wage, and overtime goes

      24      into effect, you could clearly pay them the same

      25      amount of money by paying them minimum wage plus the


       1      overtime.  It could come out to be the same amount

       2      of money.

       3             So I don't know what the issue is there.

       4             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

       5             LISA ZUCKER:  Oh, sorry, did I go too long?

       6             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Yeah.

       7             LISA ZUCKER:  Okay.

       8             I'm done.

       9             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  If you want to submit

      10      anything you want to in writing, just --

      11             CHARLOTTE KOONS:  Okay.

      12             Thank you again.

      13             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      14             ROSS SLOTNICK:  Our final speaker, Chris

      15      Kaplan-Walbrecht.

      16             CHRIS KAPLAN-WALBRECHT:  I -- yes, thank you

      17      for extending the time.

      18             Hopefully, you won't have as much traffic

      19      going home as a result.

      20             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  I live here, so I'm lucky.

      21             CHRIS KAPLAN-WALBRECHT:  My name is

      22      Chris Kaplan-Walbrecht.  I'm owner of Garden of Eve

      23      certified organic farm in Riverhead, New York.

      24             I also grew up on a dairy farm.  And, as a

      25      kid, I worked with my father, and watched our dairy


       1      farm go through the struggles that I'm seeing kind

       2      of returning to agriculture.

       3             I left school.  My family sold all the cows,

       4      and tried different types of farming to make money.

       5             I went away to college, thinking that I would

       6      never go back to farming.

       7             I was, like, this is crazy.  I'm working

       8      7 hours a week, getting up at 4:30 in the morning

       9      before school, showering up, getting on the bus.

      10             And I found how easy it was once I got a

      11      regular job.  Left home.

      12             But then I saw my father continuing to look

      13      at different ways that he could make our dairy farm

      14      work.

      15             He tried raising chickens, he tried raising

      16      sheep, goats... you name it.

      17             He finally settled in on produce.

      18             And he was actually, at the time, it was the

      19      early '90s, and he was finding that there wasn't a

      20      local market, farmers' markets, and also local chefs

      21      weren't using local produce.

      22             So he started to direct sell, and he started

      23      a farmers' market in his town.  And he told me that

      24      that was the first time since when he first bought

      25      the farm that he was actually making money.


       1             So I went home and I would see him get

       2      excited about the farmers' market.  I took an

       3      interest.

       4             He put up a greenhouse.  I got more

       5      interested.

       6             I started to see farmers' markets pop up in

       7      communities where I was working in Buffalo,

       8      New York.

       9             And then I moved to Westchester, and

      10      I started to see more and more farmers' markets

      11      coming in.

      12             I met my now-wife, and we started on a half

      13      acre, started growing what we could.

      14             My parents gave me vegetable starts.  And we

      15      built our business with no outside investment, to

      16      the business that it is now.

      17             We have -- we're farming about 65 acres.

      18             So everything that we put in was put in from

      19      selling CSA shares.

      20             So if you're not familiar with what "CSA" is,

      21      I don't -- I haven't heard a lot of people talk

      22      about it today, but it's "community-supported

      23      agriculture," and it's a great program, in which we

      24      work with communities to get a fair price for food,

      25      based on the area.


       1             So there's a lot of education that goes into

       2      it.

       3             But it assures us that we can also pay our

       4      employees as well as we do.

       5             We also sell at farmers' markets in

       6      New York City.

       7             So my major -- when the -- first, when the

       8      minimum wage came up, the first time that I started

       9      to see that show itself was at farmers' markets,

      10      where other farmers were coming and setting up right

      11      next to me, next table over, from New Jersey and

      12      Pennsylvania.  And they're paying $7.50 an hour

      13      I think in Pennsylvania right now for minimum wage

      14      on a farm.

      15             That, you know, has to show up in the price.

      16             We also complain a lot that we've lost a lot

      17      of our services, like tractors.

      18             We ship our tractors off Long Island to get

      19      them repaired now.

      20             It's crazy.

      21             But these things add up, along with the taxes

      22      and all the things that everybody else had mentioned

      23      today.

      24             But I think, by far, the minimum-wage

      25      increase, and then the time and a half, we're going


       1      to be paying people up to $25 an hour, because our

       2      guys are making seventeen, eighteen dollars an hour

       3      right now.

       4             And that is something I fear is going to hurt

       5      them more than it's going hurt me, because we are

       6      going to have to make an adjustment.

       7             We're not going to be able to pay that wage

       8      to do the same thing that the farmer next to me is

       9      doing for seven fifty an hour, or eight.

      10             So I think a real regional approach is

      11      needed, to look at who's competing with us, because

      12      if you draw a circle around New York City --

      13             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Oh, wait.

      14             I don't mean to cut you off.

      15             CHRIS KAPLAN-WALBRECHT:  Yep.

      16             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  I'm going to have to cut

      17      you off.

      18             CHRIS KAPLAN-WALBRECHT:  Yep.

      19             That's my last point.

      20             -- so, drawing a circle out and say, where

      21      are people selling their goods to our market?

      22             And how we can strengthen our share as, you

      23      know, New York farmers and New York businesses.

      24             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  Thank you.

      25             I appreciate it.


       1             And, look, and I'm sorry for the time

       2      constraints, but, you know, we are borrowing this

       3      building.

       4             And I want to thank, obviously,

       5      Suffolk County Legislature for allowing us to be

       6      here today.

       7             And I just want to thank my colleagues, thank

       8      you for driving out here.  Some of you may have a

       9      longer ride than others.

      10             And I really do appreciate you taking the

      11      time to listen to the residents of Suffolk County;

      12      not just our farmers, but our farmworkers.

      13             Though we haven't really heard much about --

      14      from our farmworkers specifically, we have heard

      15      from organizations that support our farmworkers.

      16             But, we have heard you loud and clear today.

      17             And I know that we, as policymakers, at least

      18      I can only speak to myself, I always like to know

      19      both sides of the story.  I think it's something

      20      that is important to do.

      21             We need to protect our farm industry, which

      22      is the fabric of Suffolk County of New York.

      23             But we also need to protect our farmworkers.

      24      We need to make sure that they're living quality

      25      lives, making sure that they have the protections


       1      that they need, the wages that they deserve.

       2             And we need to find a way that we can do both

       3      without driving the agriculture industry to the

       4      ground, literally.

       5             And, I want to thank my colleagues.

       6             And I'm going to give, obviously,

       7      Senator Ramos the floor, as she is the sponsor of

       8      this bill.

       9             And I just want to thank you for coming out.

      10             And then I will also like to extend the

      11      closing remarks to Senator Metzger, who is also

      12      Chair of the Agriculture Committee.

      13             Thank you everyone for coming out, and please

      14      get home safe.

      15             SENATOR RAMOS:  I'll be very brief.

      16             Thank you so much for sharing your viewpoints

      17      with me and my colleagues today.

      18             Everything that you folks have said will be

      19      taken into consideration.

      20             Look, as I continue to travel the state, and

      21      I see Maureen Torrey (ph.) here, who has some of the

      22      biggest farms here in New York, and I had the

      23      opportunity to visit her in Genesee County a few

      24      weeks ago, to see for myself what conditions were

      25      like there.


       1             We often hear from those who are the best

       2      employers, unfortunately.

       3             The bad actors aren't the ones who show up to

       4      testify, of course.

       5             And what we're aiming to do with this bill is

       6      ensure that there is a law written down so that

       7      there is no confusion about how farmworkers should

       8      be treated and compensated.

       9             So I very much look forward to continuing to

      10      work with my colleagues, and with all of you, to

      11      figure out the best solution to this issue.

      12             I am the eighth state senator to be holding

      13      this bill, and I expect to be the last one.

      14             Thank you.

      15                [Applause.]

      16             SENATOR METZGER:  So I really want to thank

      17      you all for being here once again.

      18             And I just want to say, as Chair of the

      19      Agriculture Committee, you know, I care about

      20      farmworkers, and I care about our farmers, and

      21      I care about making sure that we can sustain our

      22      really unique and diverse agricultural economy of,

      23      mostly, small and family farms in New York State for

      24      the long-term.

      25             So, hearing your input, hearing the


       1      challenges you face daily, is really important.

       2             And, you know, we'll talk about -- we'll

       3      review, and talk about all that we heard, and it's

       4      all about coming up with a solution that works for

       5      everyone.

       6             So I want to thank you very much.

       7                [Applause.]

       8             SENATOR MARTINEZ:  This joint hearing has

       9      concluded.


      11                (Whereupon, at approximately 6:31 p.m.,

      12        the joint committee public hearing concluded, and

      13        adjourned.)

      14                           ---oOo---