Public Hearing - May 02, 2019

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

       4                        PUBLIC HEARING:

       5                  TO HEAR PUBLIC TESTIMONY ON
                               The Seelig Theater at SUNY Sullivan
       8                       112 College Road
                               Loch Sheldrake, New York
                                                Date:  May 2, 2019
      10                                        Time:  1:00 p.m.

                 Senator Jen Metzger
      13         Chair, Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture

      14         Senator Jessica Ramos
                 Chair, Senate Standing Committee on Labor

      16      ALSO PRESENT:

      17         Senator Pete Harckham

      18         Senator Robert Jackson

      19         Senator John Liu

      20         Senator Thomas F. O'Mara

      21         Senator Shelly B. Mayer

      22         Senator Diane J. Savino





              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Jay Quaintance                            10
       3      President
              SUNY Sullivan
              Andrianna Natsoulas                       13       17
       5      Executive Director
              Northeast Organic Farming
       6        Association (NOFA-NY)

       7      Dr. Anu Rangarajan                        23       27
       8      Cornell Small Farm Program

       9      Dr. Richard Stup                          30       35
              Agricultural Workforce Specialist
      10      Cornell University, College of
                Agriculture and Life Sciences
              Bruce Goldstein                           41       46
      12      President
              Farmworker Justice
              Wayne Marshfield                          48       51
      14      Supervisor
              Town of Hamden
              Chris Kelder                              54       58
      16      Owner
              Kelder's Farm
              Billy Riccaldo                            61       64
      18      President
              Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation
              Elizabeth Ryan                            66       70
      20      Owner
              Stone Ridge Orchard &
      21        Breezy Hill Orchard

      22      Eric Ooms                                 78       82
              President, New York Farm Bureau
      23      Co-owner, Ooms and Sons

      24      Ila M. Riggs                              86       91
      25      Berry Patch Farm


              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Jack Banning                              98      102
       3      Owner
              Black Sheep Hill Farm
              Jessica Orozco Guttlein                  105
       5      Assistant Vice President
              The Hispanic Federation
              Beth Lyon                                110      114
       7      Director
              Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic
              Julie Patterson                          120
       9      Owner
              Patterson Farms
              Joseph Morgiewicz                        125      133
      11      Chairman
              Farmer Community Advisory Committee
      12        of GrowNYC

      13      Ken Migliorelli                          135      139
      14      Migliorelli Farm, LLC

      15      Kira Kinney                              141      144
      16      Evolutionary Organics Farm

      17      Maritza Owens                            149      152
              Chief Executive Officer
      18      Harvest Home Farmers' Market

      19      Mark Doyle                               154
      20      Fishkill Farms

      21      Mark Rogowski                            159
      22      S&SO Produce Farms

      23      Ray Pucci                                162
      24      Delaware County Chamber of Commerce



              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Jacinto Carino                           166      170
       3      Orchard Foreman & Garden Manager
              Soons Orchards
       4        (Daughter reads most of the
                 testimony and provides answers
       5         to questions)

       6      Patricia Smith                           174      178
              Chief Counsel
       7      National Employment Law Project

       8      Carlos Gutierrez                         181
              Occupational Safety and
       9        Health Trainer
              Tompkins County Workers' Center
              Paul Ruszkiewicz                         185
      11      President
              Orange County Vegetable Growers Assoc.
              Rhode Dolrlus                            194      197
      13      Farmworker
              Mead Orchards
              Cesar Arenas                             201      205
      15      Farmworker
              Willow Bend Farm
              Douglas Davenport                        206
      17      Owner
              Davenport & Sons Farm
              Sara Dressel                             210
      19      Owner
              Dressel Farms
              Reverend Richard Witt                    217
      21      Executive Director
              Rural and Migrant Ministry
              Roberto Herrera                          221
      23      Head Farm Associate
              Altamont Orchards



              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Beatrice Stern                           223
       3      President
              Chester Agriculture Project
              Shannon Kelly                            228
       5      Chief Operating Officer
              Catholic Charities of Orange,
       6        Sullivan, and Ulster counties

       7      Jesus Lorenzo Robles                     232
       8      Gade Farms

       9      Morse Pitts                              234
      10      Windfall Farms

















       1             SENATOR METZGER:  Good afternoon everyone.

       2             We're going to get started in, like,

       3      30 seconds.

       4             Just waiting for our -- here we go.

       5             Senator John Liu in the house, come on up.

       6             Okay, we'll get started then.

       7             Thank you all for being here.

       8             I'm Senator Jen Metzger, Chair of the Senate

       9      Agriculture Committee, as well as the proud

      10      representative of this fair county, Sullivan County,

      11      and parts of Orange, Ulster, and Delaware counties.

      12             I'm joined today by my colleague

      13      Senator Jessica Ramos, who's Chair of the Labor

      14      Committee, and sponsor of the legislation before us

      15      today, the proposed Farmworker (sic) Fair Practice

      16      Labor Act.

      17             We're also joined today by other colleagues,

      18      Senator Pete Harckham; Senator Robert Jackson;

      19      Senator John Liu is here somewhere, will be up here

      20      in a moment.  And I believe Senator Shelly Mayer is

      21      on our -- her way.  Senator O'Mara should be here as

      22      well.

      23             I wanted to thank all of my colleagues for

      24      making the trek to our area, we really appreciate

      25      it.


       1             This is the third in our series of joint

       2      hearings by the Agriculture and Labor committees.

       3             It is, in my view, absolutely vital to get

       4      the direct input of farmers, farmworkers, and the

       5      public.

       6             Last week we had hearings in Morrisville and

       7      on Long Island, and it was extremely helpful to hear

       8      and get the perspectives of those who stand to be

       9      most affected.

      10             As Agriculture Committee Chair, and the

      11      representative of farming communities in the

      12      Hudson Valley and Catskills regions, I recognize

      13      that this proposed legislation will greatly impact

      14      farming in New York.

      15             Legislators need to hear from farmers and

      16      farmworkers alike, as we weigh this legislation and

      17      learn directly from you about the realities of small

      18      and family-owned farm operations in New York.

      19             New York has deep roots in farming.  It

      20      represents $4.2 billion of our economy, and it's an

      21      integral part of our rural heritage and our culture.

      22             In contrast to other parts of the country --

      23             Welcome, Senator Liu.

      24             -- the majority of New York's farms are small

      25      to mid-size and family-owned.  Over half the farms


       1      in New York State are under 100 acres.

       2             Today our farms remain a pivotal engine of

       3      the state's economy and vital to the well-being of

       4      our rural communities and New York's long-term food

       5      security, yet many of New York's small and mid-size

       6      farms are struggling.  And despite the popular local

       7      food movement, increasing numbers of people in rural

       8      and urban communities are experiencing food

       9      insecurity.

      10             In my view, we have to work together,

      11      collaboratively, on solutions that sustain farming

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

      13      economic benefit for farmworkers and farm families,

      14      and food security for all New Yorkers.

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

      16      especially the farmers and farmworkers who came

      17      today.

      18             I know how hard it is to get off of the farm.

      19             I was praying for rain today.

      20             I really appreciate that you're here, and

      21      that we're going to hear your testimony.

      22             In addition to these public hearings, we will

      23      be accepting written testimony until the end of the

      24      day tomorrow at 5 p.m.

      25             Testimony can be submitted in English or in


       1      Spanish, and we look forward to listening to you and

       2      taking your input very seriously.

       3             I want to take a moment to thank my staff

       4      member, Ari Mir Pontier, who is -- I can't see her,

       5      but she's over there, who will be providing Spanish

       6      translation services.

       7             I also want to recognize my staff and

       8      Senator Ramos's staff who have worked very hard to

       9      put these hearings together;

      10             And, thank Senate conference services for

      11      helping with logistics and for live-streaming this

      12      event so that people who could not be here can still

      13      see what we're learning today.

      14             And, of course, last, but not least, I want

      15      to thank SUNY Sullivan and President Jay Quaintance,

      16      who we'll hear from in a moment, for hosting us

      17      today.

      18             He also, after -- actually, I'm going to

      19      first turn it over to my colleague and Co-Chair of

      20      this hearing, Senator Ramos, to say a few words.

      21             SENATOR RAMOS:  Thank you, Senator Metzger.

      22             Good afternoon, everyone.

      23             My name is Jessica Ramos.

      24             I represent District 13 in the State Senate,

      25      which is located in Northwestern Queens.


       1             I am the chair of the Labor Committee in the

       2      state Senate, where we've been looking to move

       3      through a long backlog of legislation, progressive

       4      legislation, to help uplift workers across our

       5      state, which is why I feel very fortunate that I get

       6      to work with Jen Metzger as Chair of the Agriculture

       7      Committee, so that we can ensure that we are passing

       8      the Farmworker (sic) Fair Labor Practices Act in a

       9      responsible and fiscally-prudent way.

      10             So we're here to ensure that we are listening

      11      to all stakeholders, and make sure that every

      12      New Yorker's voice on this matter is heard.

      13             Thank you to my colleagues who are here, to

      14      SUNY Sullivan for hosting us, and to all of you for

      15      coming, testifying, and participating.

      16             SENATOR METZGER:  Thanks so much,

      17      Senator Ramos.

      18             And I'd like to welcome SUNY Sullivan

      19      President Jay Quaintance to say a few words.

      20             PRESIDENT JAY QUAINTANCE:  Thank you.

      21             Thank you, Senators, for being here.

      22             And thank everyone in the audience for being

      23      here and participating in this important topic.

      24             Farming is the lifeblood of many communities,

      25      and many of those communities in Sullivan County.


       1             And we're very, very pleased to be able to

       2      host this important hearing, and to be able to hear

       3      public comment and public testimony on this.

       4             We have a farm here on campus.

       5             If you have a little time after, I would

       6      encourage you to take a walk out back and see what

       7      we've got going on.

       8             It's certainly not at the scale of some of

       9      the folks in the room, but we're proud of it

      10      nonetheless, and it provides opportunities for our

      11      students to become better educated about where food

      12      comes from, how it's produced, and how it can be

      13      prepared right out the back door.

      14             So with that, I'm going to turn it over to

      15      the Senators, and have a great meeting.

      16             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you so much.

      17             So I just want to go over some of the ground

      18      rules for the hearing.

      19             We've got a very full agenda, with many

      20      speakers, and we want to make sure that everyone is

      21      heard.

      22             So we really have to keep the testimony to

      23      four minutes.

      24             If you could possibly -- if you've got

      25      lengthy testimony, if you could just summarize the


       1      main points, that would be best, and then we'll

       2      leave no more than three minutes between speakers

       3      for questions from senators.

       4             There -- we have, well, a clock right here

       5      (indicating), you'll be able to see the time.

       6             My chief of staff, Leslie Berliant, will be

       7      calling the speaker up, as well as saying the next

       8      two speakers on deck, just so you're prepared to

       9      come up.

      10             And you can just come up here on the side.

      11      We'll be speaking -- we'll be speaking from right

      12      over there.

      13             And, finally, I just want to -- you know,

      14      I recognize that there are strong feelings on all

      15      sides of this issue.

      16             I just ask that everyone be respectful of

      17      everyone, and try to keep -- let's refrain from

      18      clapping, or anything like that, between speakers.

      19             Thanks so much, and we really appreciate it.

      20             ARI MIR PONTIER:  Hi.

      21             As you've heard, my name is Ari Mir Pontier.

      22      I'm the constituent manager for Senator Metzger, and

      23      I'm going to be translating today from Spanish into

      24      English.

      25                (Speaking Spanish.)


       1             LESLIE BERLIANT:  So I'm going to call up the

       2      first set of speakers.

       3             The clock is going to be right in front of

       4      you.  You'll be able to see it counting down, so

       5      just keep an eye out.  And when it hits zero, wrap

       6      up your testimony so we can stay on track.

       7             Thank you.

       8             So first up is Andrianna Natsoulas.

       9             And then after that, on deck, will be

      10      Dr. Anu Rangarajan, and Dr. Richard Stup.

      11             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Good afternoon.

      12             Thank you, Senators, for this opportunity to

      13      comment on the New York Farmworkers Fair Labor

      14      Practices Act.

      15             I'm Andrianna Natsoulas, the executive

      16      director of the Northeast Organic Farming

      17      Association of New York, or "NOFA-NY."

      18             NOFA-NY has been advocating and educating

      19      organic farmers and consumers since 1983, and is the

      20      largest USDA-accredited organic certifier in

      21      New York, certifying over a 1,000 organic

      22      operations.

      23             NOFA-NY member farmers agree with the basic

      24      tenants of the 2019 New York Farmworkers Fair Labor

      25      Practices Act, and in January voted to support a


       1      revised version of the FFLP if family-scale farmers

       2      and farmworkers, including residents and immigrants,

       3      can be at the table to negotiate the final language.

       4             However, due to the financial burden, NOFA-NY

       5      cannot support this version of the bill.

       6             This is a really hard position for us to take

       7      as we do support farmworker rights.

       8             Specifically, though, we just cannot support

       9      overtime-wage calculations, housing inspections, and

      10      unemployment insurance.

      11             Seven versions of this bill have failed since

      12      2006.

      13             The issue of immediate implementation of

      14      overtime pay has been the most significant cause of

      15      these repeated failures.

      16             Please do not make this a partisan issue, but

      17      an opportunity to support farmers and farmworkers

      18      alike.

      19             Overtime pay.

      20             The overtime provision of both acts would

      21      increase the cost of farm labor for New York farms

      22      significantly, impacting their economic viability

      23      and ability to compete with farms outside the state.

      24             Overtime-pay provision should use the model

      25      of New York's minimum-wage legislation which


       1      accounts for differences among business models and

       2      states' regional economies.

       3             Any approach to farmworker overtime

       4      compensation must recognize the value of our hired

       5      farm labor as well as the challenges of family

       6      farming.

       7             There are several reasonable alternatives.

       8             For example, a higher seasonally-adjusted

       9      overtime-pay threshold, such as 120 hours in a

      10      two-week period;

      11             And, for example, a multiyear phased

      12      implementation with extra time for small-scale farms

      13      to comply.

      14             Another issue is unemployment insurance.

      15             Lowering the trigger for required payment

      16      into unemployment insurance, from 20,000, to 6,250,

      17      will not benefit full-time farmworkers and will be a

      18      burdensome tax on small-scale family farms that only

      19      hire one or two part-time employees.

      20             Another, to housing.

      21             Requiring a permit and a department of health

      22      inspection of farm housing for even one worker will

      23      discourage small farms from providing housing.

      24             Instead, all farm housing should be required

      25      to adhere to the state's sanitary code, and farmers


       1      who provide on-farm housing for fewer than

       2      five employees should continue to be exempt from

       3      inspections under the public health law.

       4             A 2008 NOFA-NY resolution endorses the

       5      implementation of local fair trade.

       6             Everyone involved in the organic supply

       7      chain, from seed to plate, is entitled to living

       8      wages, a safe workplace, and respectful treatment.

       9             Farm prices should enable farmers to cover

      10      the cost of production, sustain their families,

      11      provide a living wage for all farmworkers, and

      12      ensure the continuing development of the farm.

      13             Farmworkers should enjoy the rights to

      14      freedom of association that are protected by law for

      15      other workers in other sectors.

      16             Fair and transparent negotiation should

      17      provide long-term contracts between the buyers of

      18      organic productions and farmers, as well as between

      19      farmers and farmworkers.

      20             Any solution to the complex issues of fair

      21      pay rates to farmworkers must be balanced with the

      22      need for fair prices to farmers for their products.

      23             And I would just like to repeat, that the

      24      implementation of overtime pay is the most

      25      significant issue.


       1             Until this is addressed, this bill will only

       2      hurt farmers, farmworkers, and consumers.

       3             Thank you for this opportunity to present the

       4      perspectives of organic farmers, which is the

       5      fastest-growing agriculture sector in

       6      New York State.

       7             And I do have copies of our full testimony

       8      for each of you.

       9             Thank you.

      10             SENATOR METZGER:  Thanks so much, Adrianna.

      11             Any questions, Pete -- Senator Harckham,

      12      I mean?

      13             SENATOR HARKHAM:  Yeah, thank you very much.

      14             The issue of worker housing has been a vexing

      15      challenge.

      16             But if your organization is saying just the

      17      sanitary code, but no inspections, how would -- you

      18      know, what -- what -- what would be the

      19      accountability in just simply saying it must be up

      20      to sanitary code without some kind of regimen of

      21      inspection?

      22             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Well, that's what it

      23      currently is.  And if you don't trust the sanitary

      24      code, well, maybe the sanitary code needs to be

      25      relooked at.


       1             SENATOR HARKHAM:  But -- but who -- who is

       2      implementing the sanitary code now?

       3             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  The State, from my

       4      understanding.

       5             SENATOR JACKSON:  Can I follow up?

       6             SENATOR HARKHAM:  Please.

       7             SENATOR JACKSON:  Sure.

       8             Hi.

       9             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Hi.

      10             SENATOR JACKSON:  So you were saying that, as

      11      far as the sanitary code, since you were just

      12      discussing that particular matter --

      13             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Uh-huh.

      14             SENATOR JACKSON:  -- you said the State

      15      would, that's the State's obligation, in order to

      16      inspect.  Is that correct?

      17             But I heard you in your earlier testimony,

      18      talked about, we should -- if it's under five, there

      19      should be no inspection.  You just assume that the

      20      sanitary code is being followed --

      21             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  It's being followed --

      22             SENATOR JACKSON:  Let me just finish it,

      23      please.

      24             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  -- uh-huh.

      25             SENATOR JACKSON:  -- being followed by the


       1      farmers.

       2             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Uh-huh.

       3             SENATOR JACKSON:  We cannot -- I cannot make

       4      that assumption.

       5             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Uh-huh.

       6             SENATOR JACKSON:  Everyone needs to be able

       7      to be housed in a sanitary, appropriate place.

       8             And I heard what you said earlier in your

       9      testimony, that the farmers are providing this

      10      housing, so they don't necessarily have do that.

      11             But, it's a -- it's everyone working

      12      together, in order so that farmers can handle their

      13      crops, and, also, employees of them, of the farmers,

      14      can also have a decent living arrangement, and also

      15      to be able to earn a living.

      16             And so it's about a combination of

      17      everything, in my opinion, unless someone has a

      18      different opinion on that.

      19             But you talked about, overtime is a primary

      20      issue, overall.

      21             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Yes.

      22             SENATOR JACKSON:  And so my question is:  If

      23      the workers are not being paid overtime, what are

      24      they being paid?

      25             Are they being paid, for example, whatever


       1      the straight time that they're earning per hour, if

       2      they're earning per hour?

       3             And, if they work in excess of the normal

       4      workday, workweek, are they being paid straight time

       5      for as many hours as they work?

       6             Can you tell me?

       7             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Right, what we are

       8      proposing is that they are paid straight time for

       9      what they're working within a certain amount of

      10      time; so looking at the seasonality, looking at the

      11      hours.

      12             So rather than, for example, 40 hours

      13      overtime -- after 40 times (sic) for the overtime to

      14      kick in, to look at 120 hours, and then the overtime

      15      kicks in, because, in the agricultural sector,

      16      you're looking at seasonality; you're looking at,

      17      you know, when crops are ripe and ready to pick;

      18      you're looking at rainy season.

      19             So there may not be any work for a week, and

      20      then, all of a sudden, they're trying to get in

      21      120 hours.

      22             So we're looking at moving to overtime once

      23      they hit 120 hours, for example.  But a 40-hour --

      24      hitting the 40-hour point, and then going into

      25      overtime, is just economically unviable for small


       1      farms.

       2             SENATOR JACKSON:  So -- if -- if we're

       3      talking about 40 hours is the workweek --

       4             Is that correct?

       5             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Uh-huh.

       6             SENATOR JACKSON:  -- based on 40, you said

       7      120, that's like two and a half --

       8             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  But it's not over a

       9      one-week period, necessarily.

      10             You're looking at more than a one-week

      11      period.

      12             SENATOR JACKSON:  Yeah, you talked about

      13      120 hours.

      14             And so if, in fact, a farmworker is working

      15      120 hours, when you look at, what is a workweek?

      16             Is a workweek, for example, in some places in

      17      New York State, as workers in New York State,

      18      35 hours is a workweek.  And some businesses

      19      40 hours is a workweek.

      20             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Right.

      21             SENATOR JACKSON:  So with respect to farmers,

      22      what is a normal workweek, if any --

      23             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Well, it depends --

      24             SENATOR JACKSON:  -- if any?

      25             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  -- I mean, it depends.


       1             It depends on the crop.  It depends on the

       2      season.

       3             SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay?

       4             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  And so we're looking at

       5      120 hours over a two-week period.

       6             SENATOR JACKSON:  Over a two-week period?

       7             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  A two-week period,

       8      right, rather than what's typically considered a

       9      "workweek," which is 40 hours in one week.

      10             SENATOR JACKSON:  In order for any employee

      11      to be eligible for overtime?

      12             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  For overtime to kick

      13      in.

      14             SENATOR METZGER:  So we're going to have --

      15      we have a lot of speakers.

      16             This is just the first one, so we're going to

      17      wrap this one up.

      18             Thank you for your testimony.

      19             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Thank you.

      20             SENATOR METZGER:  And we'll go on to the next

      21      speaker.

      22             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Can I give you copies?

      23             SENATOR JACKSON:  Sure.

      24             SENATOR RAMOS:  We already have them.

      25             SENATOR JACKSON:  Is it more than the two


       1      double pages?

       2             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  (Inaudible.)

       3             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is

       4      Dr. Anu Rangarajan, followed by Dr. Richard Stup.

       5             And if Bruce Goldstein could also come up,

       6      please.

       7             DR. ANU RANGARAJAN:  Hello, and thank you for

       8      this opportunity to offer testimony.

       9             I would like to share with you some of the

      10      efforts of the Cornell Small Farm (sic) Program,

      11      related to advancing human resource and management

      12      skills on New York State farms.

      13             So while this testimony is not designed to

      14      take a position on the legislation being considered

      15      by the Committee, it's important to understand the

      16      scope of ag labor and workforce-development needs,

      17      as well as Cornell's commitment to serving both

      18      farmers and farm employees.

      19             So the small-farm program and CALS

      20      (Cornell ag and life sciences) seeks to ensure that,

      21      regardless of scale, farmers have access to

      22      high-quality information, training, and proven

      23      tactics for success.

      24             And so one of the programs of the small-farm

      25      program is our nationally-recognized new-farmer


       1      training efforts.

       2             And, we also have State-funded veterans-to-ag

       3      program that helps active duty and military veterans

       4      find second careers in agriculture.

       5             And now I want to share with you a newer

       6      effort of the program.

       7             Under our USDA-funded project that's titled

       8      "Labor Readiness: Pathways for farmworkers to start

       9      up, and advanced beginning farmers to scale up new

      10      farm businesses."

      11             We have the two audiences that I described:

      12             New farmers wanting to improve their

      13      management skills, to be able to hire labor, and

      14      expand and grow their businesses;

      15             And then the other audience is primarily

      16      Latino farmworkers, employees who are interested in

      17      improving their own management skills to advance

      18      their position on farms or, perhaps, pursue their

      19      own agricultural interests, going forward.

      20             And so "labor-readiness" is defined as the

      21      ability to prepare for, manage, and retain a skilled

      22      workforce.  And it's critical for any farm's

      23      successful ability to scale up, thrive, and make it

      24      to the 10-year mark that we consider an established

      25      farm business.


       1             And so our project aims to create resources

       2      and training for supervisors, managers, and

       3      employees, because we understand that a farm's

       4      workforce is its most valuable resource.

       5             So at the start of this project, we hosted a

       6      series of roundtable discussions with over 90 Latino

       7      farm employees from around the state.

       8             And what they were able to do with us was to

       9      prioritize their own interest and needs in education

      10      and development to allow them to develop as

      11      professionals in our agriculture.

      12             And based on these findings, we've created a

      13      unique educational program that we call a "master

      14      class" for bilingual farm employees.

      15             It integrates an intensive management

      16      curriculum, along with English as a second language,

      17      because English-language proficiency is identified

      18      as a barrier to successful integration into

      19      agriculture activity.

      20             So the classes cover a whole range of topics:

      21      Farm culture, communication, leadership, business

      22      management, conflict resolution, and team building;

      23      all of these being topics that were prioritized in

      24      the roundtable discussions that we held across the

      25      state.


       1             And together, as a team, what we were able do

       2      is create an exceptionally open and comfortable

       3      classroom atmosphere in order to help these

       4      employees build their English-language confidence.

       5             And, we use lecture and small groups and work

       6      scenarios for them to practice management skills.

       7             Also unique and impactful was candid

       8      conversations that we had, where we invited farmers

       9      from the Western New York fruit industry to come

      10      into the classroom and sort of be on the hot seat.

      11             It provided a unique opportunity for the

      12      employees to actually ask questions, and to witness

      13      the challenges of being a farm owner, as well as

      14      learn more about their own visions of agriculture in

      15      New York.

      16             The active engagement and commitment of the

      17      employers has been absolutely critical to this

      18      project's success.

      19             The owners were engaged weekly, and provided

      20      with discussion questions by us, to foster continued

      21      engagement and development of a different kind of

      22      management relationship with these employees.

      23             And, every farmer had felt that the course

      24      provided immediate positive benefits, and was a

      25      critical opportunity that should be offered to any


       1      employee who seeks to advance their own skills on

       2      the farm.

       3             Developing this type of skill set and

       4      educational opportunity for employees is absolutely

       5      critical for building a pathway for a next

       6      generation of agriculturists.

       7             And so what we feel is one of the key goals

       8      for our project, is to make sure that those

       9      employees --

      10             SENATOR METZGER:  Start to wrap it up.

      11             DR. ANU RANGARAJAN:  Yep.

      12             -- can actually have access to education and

      13      training to pursue their own personal agricultural

      14      aspirations.

      15             So, thank you.

      16             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      17             SENATOR JACKSON:  I have a quick question.

      18             SENATOR METZGER:  Go ahead.

      19             SENATOR JACKSON:  Doctor --

      20             SENATOR METZGER:  Senator Jackson.

      21             SENATOR JACKSON:  -- regarding this training

      22      program, how many farmers took advantage of this

      23      program, if they had the time, and how many

      24      employees of the farmworkers were there?  And how

      25      long was this program?


       1             DR. ANU RANGARAJAN:  So we -- we built on

       2      some history in Western New York with the fruit

       3      industry, where they had started doing bilingual

       4      education previously.

       5             And so we actually wanted to have a very

       6      closed group, a small group, and so we offered this

       7      and allowed for farms to nominate employees to

       8      participate.

       9             We accepted 25 nominations that -- we

      10      received 25 nominations, we only accepted 15 into

      11      the class, because we knew there is an in-depth

      12      personal interaction.

      13             We want to create networks among the

      14      employees, as well as a chance for them to really

      15      practice their skills in a comfortable environment.

      16             SENATOR JACKSON:  The nominations were from,

      17      whom?

      18             DR. ANU RANGARAJAN:  From the owners -- the

      19      business owners or supervisors.

      20             SENATOR JACKSON:  The owners.

      21             Okay.  And so, with respect to that, I was

      22      trying to really determine how many farm owners

      23      and/or their managers took advantage of it, since

      24      they deal primarily with the workers.

      25             And so how many --


       1             DR. ANU RANGARAJAN:  So our --

       2             SENATOR JACKSON:  -- were that, and how many

       3      were workers?

       4             DR. ANU RANGARAJAN:  Right.

       5             -- so all of the members -- all of the people

       6      who participated in our training were Latino

       7      employees, they were workers.

       8             SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay.  And --

       9             DR. ANU RANGARAJAN:  And the owners, they

      10      participated, there was 12 of them that came into

      11      the room and spoke directly with the employees in

      12      our sort of workshop setting.

      13             But there was a much broader conversation

      14      with, I would guess, 25 to 50 actual owners about

      15      this project.

      16             We talk about it at every opportunity we can,

      17      and there's people that are asking us to repeat it

      18      so that they can have additional people participate.

      19             SENATOR JACKSON:  And did you come out with a

      20      report after that particular --

      21             DR. ANU RANGARAJAN:  Yes.  I'm happy to share

      22      it.

      23             I summarized some of the findings that we

      24      have in this, and I'd be happy to share that as

      25      well.


       1             SENATOR JACKSON:  I would like to see the

       2      report, though.

       3             DR. ANU RANGARAJAN:  Yeah, absolutely.

       4             SENATOR JACKSON:  Thank you.

       5             DR. ANU RANGARAJAN:  Yes, great.

       6             SENATOR JACKSON:  Thank you.

       7             SENATOR METZGER:  Any other questions?

       8             Okay.  Thank you very much, Doctor.

       9             DR. ANU RANGARAJAN:  Thank you.

      10             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is

      11      Dr. Richard Stup, followed by Bruce Goldstein, and

      12      Wayne Marshfield.

      13             DR. RICHARD STUP:  Can you hear me?

      14             Thank you for the opportunity to be with you

      15      today.

      16             I'm Richard Stup, and I lead the Cornell ag

      17      workforce development program.

      18             I'm here to share some research-based

      19      information regarding the ag workforce in New York

      20      State which I hope will be helpful to you.

      21             Farms are small businesses that operate in a

      22      competitive labor market.

      23             Most farm employees are at-will employees who

      24      can move freely from one employer to another within

      25      agriculture and to other industries.


       1             Farms work hard to attract and retain the

       2      best-quality employees.

       3             The only type of farm employees who cannot

       4      move to another employer at will are foreign guest

       5      workers in the H-2A visa program.  They work under

       6      contract with their farm employer for up to

       7      10 months.

       8             New York's farm industry is diverse.

       9             We have about 55,000 people, farm employees,

      10      in the state, down from about 61,000 a few years

      11      ago.  More than half of them are seasonal or working

      12      less than 150 days per year.

      13             Many farm employees are long-term, year-round

      14      residents of the local communities, while others are

      15      more recent immigrants or guest workers.

      16             In a 2016 study of Western New York dairy

      17      farms, about one-fourth of the farms had a workforce

      18      consisting of more than 75 percent Hispanic

      19      employees, half had 50 to 75 percent Hispanic

      20      employees, and another quarter had less than

      21      50 percent Hispanic employees.

      22             Of the 205 Hispanic employees in the study,

      23      their ages ranged from 16 to 77 years, with an

      24      average of 31 years of age.

      25             In New York State it is legal to work on a


       1      farm outside school hours beginning at 16 years of

       2      age.

       3             Penalties for violating child labor laws are

       4      severe: thousands of dollars at the state level, and

       5      $10,000 at the federal level, per incident.

       6             We did a study -- a benchmark study of

       7      farm-employee compensation paid in 2017.

       8             Farm employees received regular wages which

       9      must be above the New York minimums.

      10             In addition, they often receive bonuses or

      11      incentive pay and a variety of benefits.

      12             Front-line employees in our study, on

      13      average, had 7.2 years of tenure at their farm,

      14      earned total compensation of over 46,000.  They

      15      worked about 2,787 hours, or about 54 hours per

      16      week, which comes to an average compensation of

      17      about 16.90.

      18             Managers in the same study had about 11 years

      19      tenure at their farm, and earned total compensation

      20      of about $59,000, which comes up to about 22.48 per

      21      hour.

      22             H-2A guest workers have a strictly-regulated

      23      minimum wage that is set by the federal government.

      24             For 2019, the New York State minimum wage for

      25      H-2A workers is 13.25 an hour, plus fully-paid


       1      benefits, including housing, transportation into the

       2      U.S. and home again, and daily transportation to and

       3      from the work site.

       4             In 2017, a couple of my colleagues at Cornell

       5      did an analysis of the impact of overtime and

       6      increased minimum wage on farm expenses.

       7             They found that, through 2021, the planned

       8      minimum-wage increases and a potential overtime

       9      increase would increase wage expenses 52 to

      10      70 percent.

      11             In a paper published earlier this year, my

      12      colleagues and I reviewed research in other

      13      industries to better understand what might happen if

      14      overtime occurred in New York.

      15             And we had look at other industries to see

      16      what did happen in those situations, but, generally,

      17      farm employers will do anything they can to not pay

      18      overtime.

      19             So, in agriculture, these strategies would

      20      likely include:

      21             Decreasing hours through downsizing

      22      operations;

      23             Hiring additional employees so that people

      24      didn't have to work over 40 hours as much;

      25             Adopting mechanization or automation to


       1      eliminate jobs;

       2             And changing crop strategies to reduce labor

       3      needs.

       4             I would like to share a few of the

       5      initiatives that we've been working on.

       6             I see my time's almost up.

       7             So one is the on-boarding project, which is

       8      getting employees started well.

       9             Another is farm-employee housing, which is to

      10      make sure that employee housing is in good shape and

      11      that it's well regulated.

      12             The third one is supervisor training and

      13      human-resource skills.

      14             Fourth one is anti-sexual-harassment

      15      training.

      16             I did want to share that the industry has

      17      really picked up on that very strongly and is

      18      pushing that hard.

      19             And then the Labor Roadshow, which is all

      20      about compliance, which -- and better human resource

      21      management.

      22             And I'll wrap up by saying:

      23             The modern ag workforce has come a long way.

      24             Consumer interest in food production,

      25      combined with the competitive labor market, is


       1      leading farms to adopt increasingly progressive

       2      human-resource management practices.

       3             Farms work diligently to attract and keep

       4      good people, and are often rewarded with long-term

       5      committed employees.

       6             As the land-grant partner for over 150 years

       7      with the State of New York, Cornell is committed to

       8      fostering human resources, skill development, and

       9      labor-law compliance for New York State's farm and

      10      food community.

      11             Thank you.

      12             Thank you very much, doctor.

      13             Any questions?

      14             Sure, go ahead.

      15             SENATOR HARKHAM:  You had stated --

      16             Doctor, thank you for your testimony.

      17             -- that farmworkers had dropped, from 61,000,

      18      to about 55,000.

      19             Is that, do you think, through automation, or

      20      was that through economic factors?

      21             DR. RICHARD STUP:  I'm sure it's both.

      22             I'm sure there's economic factors having an

      23      impact.

      24             We actually reduced the number of farms in

      25      the state as well over that period of time.


       1             Some is automation, and automation is coming,

       2      but it's a few years off.

       3             So automation is available.

       4             You've heard of dairy robots, of course.

       5      And, you know, at some point in the future, robots

       6      will milk a lot of cows, for sure.

       7             And it's coming in other sectors as well,

       8      but, again, it's still a few years off.

       9             SENATOR METZGER:  So I have a follow-up

      10      question to that.

      11             So a lot of the farms -- the dairy farms in

      12      Sullivan County, dairy farms in Delaware County, are

      13      small farms.

      14             So how likely is it that they could afford to

      15      automate?

      16             It seems --

      17             DR. RICHARD STUP:  So dairy farms, you're

      18      talking about?

      19             SENATOR METZGER:  -- that cost would -- yeah,

      20      but small dairy farms.

      21             DR. RICHARD STUP:  With any automation, new

      22      technology is very expensive.

      23             ANDRIANNA NATSOULAS:  Yes.

      24             DR. RICHARD STUP:  And I'll just -- just to

      25      throw a few numbers out there:


       1             Just the robot for a small dairy farm to milk

       2      about 65 cows is about 225,000, just the robot.

       3             So if you need -- for that small farm,

       4      65 cows, would need one robot.  A little bit larger

       5      farm, which is probably more economical today, is

       6      going to need at least two of those.

       7             It is -- it remains very inexpensive (sic)

       8      and difficult for many farms, unless they're in a

       9      very strong financial position, and I used to be a

      10      lender as well, to bring in that technology at this

      11      point.

      12             Hopefully, over time, it will become more

      13      affordable.  But, right now, it's very expensive.

      14             SENATOR METZGER:  So one other question.

      15             You mentioned that farmers would likely -- in

      16      the face of overtime, would likely, you know, hire

      17      additional workers.

      18             There's currently a labor shortage.

      19             DR. RICHARD STUP:  Absolutely.

      20             SENATOR METZGER:  So how feasible, in your

      21      estimation, is that a likely, you know, scenario?

      22             DR. RICHARD STUP:  It would be very difficult

      23      to do.

      24             There may be some opportunities for farms to

      25      share employees.


       1             So, much like other sectors, where you have a

       2      person -- a person who works multiple jobs.  So they

       3      maybe have a 40-hour job here, and a 20-hour job

       4      there, and maybe another 20-hour job, in order to

       5      cobble together enough income.

       6             That may be a factor that comes to

       7      agriculture.

       8             And, actually, that's one of the things that,

       9      right now, people who work in agriculture don't have

      10      to do that.  They don't have to go to multiple

      11      employers because, often, they can get enough hours

      12      with their current employer.

      13             So it's something to think about.

      14             It's probably not -- that would not be a good

      15      move for the employee to have to work multiple jobs,

      16      especially those who don't want to have to be

      17      exposed to traveling too much between workplaces.

      18             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay.

      19             SENATOR JACKSON:  Can I ask a quick question?

      20             SENATOR METZGER:  Sure.

      21             SENATOR JACKSON:  Doctor, thank you for

      22      coming and giving testimony.

      23             If you can tell us, the percentage of

      24      farmworkers that are not H-2A guest workers, what

      25      percentage are regular workers and what are the H-2A


       1      contract workers where they are governed by the

       2      federal law?

       3             DR. RICHARD STUP:  Yeah, that number is

       4      actually in this publication, "The State of Ag in

       5      New York."

       6             Off the top of my head, I won't look it up

       7      for time, but --

       8             SENATOR JACKSON:  Approximately.

       9             DR. RICHARD STUP:  -- it's relatively small.

      10             WAYNE MARSHFIELD:  7,600 H-2A workers.

      11             SENATOR JACKSON:  I'm sorry, say -- help him

      12      out.

      13             DR. RICHARD STUP:  He said, 7,600 H-2A

      14      workers.

      15             So out of that 55,000, it's a relatively

      16      small percentage, yep.

      17             SENATOR JACKSON:  I see.

      18             Okay, very good.

      19             And that's your report, and that's a -- you

      20      have the link here in your testimony?

      21             DR. RICHARD STUP:  Absolutely.

      22             SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay.  Thank you.

      23             DR. RICHARD STUP:  And all of those things

      24      are included, including the compensation benchmark.

      25             And, also, I wanted to share this.


       1             This is the Labor Roadshow that I mentioned.

       2             This is the book, the compliance book, that

       3      we prepared and put together, and had over 200 farms

       4      across the state involved in that program.

       5             SENATOR JACKSON:  Just one little quick

       6      question.

       7             Of the H-2A, it says they're paid 13.25 per

       8      hour.

       9             DR. RICHARD STUP:  Correct.

      10             SENATOR JACKSON:  Is that for how many hours

      11      they work, or just a certain number of hours?

      12             DR. RICHARD STUP:  So that is minimum wage --

      13             SENATOR JACKSON:  Right, minimum.

      14             DR. RICHARD STUP:  -- so they're paid at

      15      least 13.25 an hour.

      16             SENATOR JACKSON:  I see.

      17             DR. RICHARD STUP:  Many are paid above that.

      18             SENATOR JACKSON:  So if they work 50, 60, 70,

      19      80 hours, they're paid whatever the rate they're

      20      being paid?

      21             DR. RICHARD STUP:  Thanks for the question.

      22             Yeah, it is straight time.

      23             So if you work 80 hours, it's -- and you're

      24      paid $15 an hour, you make $15 times 80 hours.

      25             SENATOR JACKSON:  But it's, the minimum is


       1      13.25?

       2             DR. RICHARD STUP:  The minimum is 13.25.

       3             SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay.  Thank you.

       4             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much,

       5      Doctor.

       6             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is Bruce Goldstein.

       7             And if Wayne Marshfield and Chris Kelder

       8      could please come and line up.

       9             Thank you.

      10             BRUCE GOLDSTEIN:  Thank you for the

      11      opportunity to testify and state our strong support

      12      for enactment of the Farmworkers Fair Labor

      13      Practices Act.

      14             I am president of Farmworker Justice, a

      15      national organization based in Washington D.C.,

      16      founded in 1981.

      17             Its mission is to empower farmworkers to

      18      improve their wages and working conditions,

      19      occupational safety, health, immigration policy, and

      20      access to justice.

      21             Our organization engages in policy analysis,

      22      advocacy, litigation, public education, training,

      23      and corporate-responsibility initiatives.

      24             Farmworker Justice collaborates with

      25      organizations throughout the country, including


       1      organizations in New York.

       2             There are approximately 2.4 million

       3      farmworkers in the United States, not including

       4      their family members.

       5             About one-half of farmworkers are married

       6      with children.

       7             More than 80 percent of farmworkers

       8      nationwide are foreign-born.

       9             More than one-half of farmworkers are

      10      undocumented immigrants.

      11             Today, most farmworkers do not migrate for

      12      jobs.  The large majority of farmworkers are settled

      13      in communities, raising families, contributing to

      14      the economy and the society.

      15             Farming is a dangerous job.

      16             The agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector

      17      is ranked number one in the rate of occupational

      18      fatalities per 100,000 workers.

      19             Farmworkers remain among the lowest-paid

      20      occupational group in the nation.

      21             The poverty rate among farmworker families is

      22      disproportionately high.

      23             In recent years, farmworkers' wages have

      24      improved modestly, slightly above the rate of

      25      inflation, but that is of little comfort when they


       1      started so low, and one considers that fringe

       2      benefits are rarely paid.

       3             Farmworkers underutilize the public benefits

       4      for which they are eligible, and undocumented

       5      farmworkers are generally ineligible for public

       6      benefits.

       7             Many undocumented immigrants are living in

       8      fear of arrest and deportation due to

       9      highly-publicized immigration enforcement.

      10             That fear discourages them from asking for a

      11      raise or to work fewer hours, from challenging wage

      12      theft, sexual harassment, and other illegal

      13      employment practices, and even from appearing in

      14      public places such as health centers and schools.

      15             The exclusion of farmworkers from many

      16      federal and state labor laws limits their income,

      17      deprives them of labor protections, denies them

      18      freedom to bargain collectively for better job

      19      terms, and exacerbates their vulnerability to unfair

      20      labor practices.

      21             The State should end its longstanding

      22      discrimination against farmworkers in its labor and

      23      employment legislation.

      24             Consumers, increasingly, want to know how

      25      their fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are


       1      produced, and how the people who produced them are

       2      treated.

       3             Supermarkets and other sellers of food are

       4      responding to their consumers by investigating and

       5      reforming their supply chains.

       6             An important step toward respecting

       7      farmworkers as human beings, who are contributing to

       8      our nation, and toward meeting the demands of

       9      consumers and businesses, is to pass the farm -- the

      10      Farmworkers Fair Labors (sic) Act.

      11             Some employers claim that agriculture will be

      12      decimated if farmworkers are given the same labor

      13      protections that apply to other workers.

      14             When these battles over overtime pay and the

      15      right to organize were fought long ago for other

      16      workers, employers in other industries said the same

      17      thing, and yet our economy is the strongest in the

      18      world.

      19             California's experience shows the same thing.

      20             Back in 1975, California passed the

      21      Agricultural Labor Relations Act.

      22             They've also extended, basically, all labor

      23      rights to farmworkers that other workers enjoy.

      24             And California's agribusiness grew, from

      25      $7.5 billion in 1974, to $45 billion in 2017.


       1             And now California, in 2016, passed

       2      legislation to grant farmworkers overtime pay after

       3      40 hours a week by gradually phasing it in.

       4             I want to stress that there are other ways of

       5      improving productivity than forcing people to work

       6      extraordinary number of -- numbers of hours.

       7             Many farmworkers do not say that they don't

       8      want to work that many hours because they are afraid

       9      of being fired, and under the H-2A program,

      10      deported.

      11             Employers are finding new ways,

      12      non-exploitive ways, to improve productivity and

      13      share the higher profits with farmworkers.

      14             More effective labor relations also reduces

      15      business risks, including from occupational injuries

      16      to workers, and from food-borne illnesses to

      17      consumers.

      18             New York should recognize that victims of the

      19      denial of equal treatment under labor laws are

      20      predominantly people of color and immigrants who

      21      have been marginalized on the basis of the color of

      22      their skin and their place of birth.

      23             This discrimination has never been

      24      appropriate, and finally must end.

      25             Thank you very much for this opportunity.


       1             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

       2             Any questions?

       3             Doctor -- I mean, Senator Jackson?

       4             SENATOR JACKSON:  Mr. Goldstein, thank you

       5      for coming and giving your testimony.

       6             So, obviously, in listening to some previous

       7      testimony, and especially in hearing from my

       8      colleague about these small farmworkers (sic) and

       9      how they're just struggling to get by themselves,

      10      have there been an analysis with respects to, if you

      11      know, for the New York region?

      12             And I know that you are the president of the

      13      Farmworkers for Justice (sic) nationally, and I saw

      14      your stats for California, as far as the industry,

      15      up to 45, I think, billion, or -- 45 billion in

      16      2017.

      17             Has there been an analysis of New York State

      18      with respects to that?

      19             Because, obviously, no one wants to see

      20      farmers go out of business.

      21             No one wants to see workers not receiving

      22      what they're rightfully due, and be treated with

      23      respect and dignity, and earn the monies and

      24      everything that they're entitled to.

      25             So has there been an analysis in


       1      New York State?

       2             Because, obviously, we don't want to, in my

       3      opinion, pass a law that's going to bankrupt

       4      farmers, but we want to pass a law that's going to

       5      make it work for farmers and workers.

       6             BRUCE GOLDSTEIN:  Yeah, I'll have to rely on

       7      my friends in New York State to give you that

       8      information.

       9             I would just say that, capitalism is known

      10      for its invention and for --

      11             SENATOR JACKSON:  Innovation?

      12             BRUCE GOLDSTEIN:  -- recreating --

      13             Innovation.

      14             -- recreating itself.

      15             We should not be discriminating against

      16      farmworkers to achieve an economically-viable

      17      agricultural industry.

      18             They're workers just like anybody else.

      19             SENATOR JACKSON:  Thank you.

      20             BRUCE GOLDSTEIN:  Thank you.

      21             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      22             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Up next is

      23      Wayne Marshfield, followed by Chris Kelder.

      24             And if Elizabeth Ryan could come up to the

      25      stage, please.


       1             WAYNE MARSHFIELD:  Thank you very much for

       2      allowing to us give testimony this afternoon.

       3             I'm a 26-year county legislator from

       4      Delaware County, and supervisor of the town of

       5      Hamden.

       6             I was raised on a dairy farm, and it's still

       7      in operation yet today up in northern New York.

       8             I'm well aware of the difficulties our

       9      farmers have had for decades, and I really oppose

      10      this legislation, as did our county board of

      11      supervisors.

      12             I'm here to tell you that this will devastate

      13      our farmers and will continue to run the cycle of

      14      losing farms.

      15             Agriculture in New York State, as you know,

      16      is over a $5 billion economy to New York State.

      17             Given labor shortages, New York farms are

      18      continuously seeking new labor sources.

      19             Farm employees typically receive a whole

      20      compensation package in addition to their regular

      21      pay.  They oftentimes receive housing and a free

      22      range of products that are produced on the farm.

      23             In farming, Mother Nature governs pretty much

      24      the workday.

      25             A bad weather day makes for a short day, and


       1      the next day means a lot longer day.

       2             Equipment breakdowns, animal sickness,

       3      birthing, supply shortages, family issues, all make

       4      for an erratic workday, workdays that are, one way

       5      or another, altered in length.

       6             I'm sure you've heard it before, but, in

       7      2017, front-line farmworkers worked an average of

       8      56 hours a week.

       9             In 2016, a survey of Hispanic dairy employees

      10      in New York State worked on the average of 57 hours

      11      a week, but they like to work 67 hours a week.

      12             That's what they needed to work to be able to

      13      survive.

      14             If farmers are forced into paying overtime

      15      above the 40 hours, they will decrease the hours to

      16      their employees.

      17             The same farmworker employees would now be

      18      cut to 40 hours.  They will go elsewhere to work in

      19      order to be able to supply their families with the

      20      income that they need.

      21             And, more than likely, they'll be working the

      22      same hours for straight time because now they're

      23      working for two different employers.

      24             We also run -- have the risk of farmworkers

      25      going to other states if they're restricted to a


       1      specific workday.

       2             If farmers are forced to pay overtime in

       3      excess of 40 hours, a farmworker will make less than

       4      they are today, forcing them to go to states that

       5      don't have these laws.

       6             Dairy farming is close to my heart.

       7             This law would raise the cost to a dairy

       8      farmer 101 percent.

       9             Can you imagine that happening to a dairy

      10      farmer when they're already losing profits on the

      11      farm?

      12             Milk prices are pitifully low, and this would

      13      just polish them right off.

      14             New York farmers will not compete nationally

      15      or globally with this law.

      16             We'll have farmworker employees with all

      17      these new labor benefits, yet the farmer himself,

      18      working side by side with the farmworker, will work

      19      more hours, knowing they have to do that in order to

      20      not lose the farm.

      21             My dad did what he had to keep the family

      22      farm in operation.  He loved the farm.

      23             And, thankfully, the farm, it's still in

      24      operation today.

      25             With this proposed law, it will be doomed and


       1      lost forever.

       2             And for that reasons, I hope you would

       3      consider opposition to this law.

       4             And I thank you again for allowing us to

       5      speak.

       6             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much,

       7      Supervisor.

       8             We really appreciate it.

       9             Any questions?

      10             Senator Harckham?

      11             SENATOR HARKHAM:  Just a very quick question.

      12             Thank you, Mr. Supervisor, for being here.

      13             I don't claim you have a crystal ball, but,

      14      as someone who has experience in this industry and

      15      who represents a lot of farmers, is there a middle

      16      ground that can be found between 40 hours a week and

      17      120 hours every two weeks?

      18             Does such a place exist?

      19             WAYNE MARSHFIELD:  I don't know as I could

      20      answer that, really.

      21             I've talked to local dairy farmers, and if

      22      this law goes -- they're just -- they're barely

      23      hanging on now.

      24             You know what the story is out there.

      25             And, of course, we're talking, our


       1      Delaware County is dairy, beef, and vegetables, and,

       2      you know, they're all affected, one way or another,

       3      but dairy takes the big hit with this law.

       4             I can't answer that question.

       5             Sorry.

       6             SENATOR HARKHAM:  Oh, that's all right.

       7             Thank you.

       8             WAYNE MARSHFIELD:  Okay.

       9             SENATOR JACKSON:  Mr. Marshfield, thank you

      10      for coming in, because I want to hear from everyone.

      11             And, obviously, you grew up on a farm, your

      12      family still owns a farm.  And you are the

      13      supervisor for the town in which, you know, you're

      14      are basically saying, based on the input from

      15      farmers and the board of Hamden, that this bill

      16      should not go forward.

      17             WAYNE MARSHFIELD:  Correct.

      18             SENATOR JACKSON:  So -- and you indicated

      19      that employees that are not on the H-2A visas, they

      20      can go anywhere they want.

      21             WAYNE MARSHFIELD:  Yes.

      22             SENATOR JACKSON:  And you said, if, in fact,

      23      this went into effect, some would go to other places

      24      in other states --

      25             WAYNE MARSHFIELD:  If they're limited to


       1      40 hours on Farmer A, they're going to go to

       2      Farmer B, a different employer.

       3             SENATOR JACKSON:  You mean after 40 hours, if

       4      they --

       5             WAYNE MARSHFIELD:  Yeah, yeah, so they can

       6      get their 70, 80 hours, whatever.

       7             SENATOR JACKSON:  But if --

       8             WAYNE MARSHFIELD:  But farmers typically pay,

       9      they give them a package.

      10             And in our area, they supply housing as part

      11      of the package.

      12             SENATOR JACKSON:  What else do they supply?

      13             WAYNE MARSHFIELD:  I don't know -- well, farm

      14      products.  Milk, beef, you know, different things.

      15             I know one that supplies wood for their

      16      heating.

      17             And so they supply an array of things,

      18      whether it's maple syrup, or whatever.

      19             SENATOR JACKSON:  Oh, so it's beside the

      20      monetary aspect, they give other things which is in

      21      value; it's value to them and their families if, in

      22      fact, they're living with their families?

      23             WAYNE MARSHFIELD:  You got to realize that

      24      Delaware County is a very -- I love the county.

      25      It's a very poor county.


       1             And we're, like --

       2             Chamber of commerce person's here today.

       3             -- but we're right on the bottom of the -- we

       4      have no industry.

       5             All we have is farming.

       6             SENATOR JACKSON:  Uh-huh?

       7             WAYNE MARSHFIELD:  And, yep, this would be

       8      tough.

       9             SENATOR JACKSON:  Thank you, sir.

      10             I appreciate you coming in.

      11             WAYNE MARSHFIELD:  Don't grill me too bad.

      12             Thank you.

      13             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you so much.

      14             SENATOR RAMOS:  We're being nice today.

      15             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is Chris Kelder.

      16             I'm told Elizabeth Ryan is on her way in, so

      17      if Billy Riccaldo could also come up.

      18             CHRIS KELDER:  Thank you, Senators, for the

      19      opportunity to speak today.

      20             My name is Chris Kelder.

      21             My family and I operate Kelder's Farm, which

      22      is a bicentennial farm in Kerhonkson, New York.

      23             My wife and I are very pleased to have had

      24      our son just come back and join the business.

      25             We grow fruits, vegetables, and livestock,


       1      which we directly market to the public through our

       2      farm stand and CSA.

       3             Our employees are very important to the

       4      business and to us personally.

       5             Through the years, we have had many long-term

       6      employees that feel more like family than just

       7      employees.

       8             We've had employees who have worked for three

       9      generations of our family.

      10             One gentleman my grandfather hired, he worked

      11      for my father, and then he retired working for me.

      12             So, people stay a long time.

      13             But I'm also proud, the fact that

      14      Kelder's Farm, and its -- the way we do business

      15      now, has been the first job to dozens of local high

      16      school and college students.

      17             Many of the young people that have worked

      18      for us have gone on into careers, such as teaching,

      19      law enforcement, corrections, and banking, to name a

      20      few.

      21             Many of the students work hard and long hours

      22      for the short summer they have, so they can make

      23      money to further their education.

      24             The proposed legislation would make it

      25      impossible for me to offer this opportunity to them


       1      because there's not enough margin in the jobs they

       2      have skills for in order for them -- for me to pay

       3      time and a half for those type of jobs.

       4             It would end up hurting the employee.

       5             In agriculture, we are price-takers in a

       6      low-margin business, and have little, if any,

       7      ability to ask our buyers to raise the prices

       8      they're willing to pay.

       9             We are competing with other states in the

      10      country that have lower costs of production than

      11      New York State.

      12             The proposed labor legislation would put all

      13      farms and, therefore, farmworkers, in jeopardy in

      14      our great state.

      15             Please consider, that if farms in New York

      16      can't pay the bills, the farmworkers will also

      17      suffer.

      18             Upstate counties will shrivel on the vine and

      19      viable, productive farmland will either grow into

      20      unkept brush fields or urban sprawl.

      21             The proposed overtime pay rate, coupled with

      22      rising minimum wages in New York, give farmers a

      23      very unfair disadvantage when we compete with the

      24      surrounding states that have the same access we do

      25      to our metropolitan market.


       1             Farmers live with huge amounts of risk every

       2      day, like fluctuating markets, pests, diseases, and

       3      weather, all of which are out of our control.

       4             Like an old farmer once told me --

       5             I guess I'm getting to be an old farmer now.

       6             -- but, "In agriculture, you live six hours

       7      away from a flood and six days away from a drought,

       8      all the time."

       9             I'm not afraid of the risks that we take

      10      every year, but I am afraid of the future for my

      11      children who are trying to make a future in

      12      agriculture in New York State.

      13             I am afraid for the farmworkers who will not

      14      be able to find future employment if farms are not

      15      here.

      16             I am afraid for the rural communities with

      17      less agriculture to sustain themselves.

      18             And I'm also afraid of the consumers who will

      19      find it harder to find quality New York State

      20      products.

      21             This labor bill may be the beginning of the

      22      end of an industry that is the backbone of rural

      23      New York.

      24             I understand that the supporters of this

      25      legislation do so with the best intentions, but


       1      there will be unintended consequences to

       2      farmworkers, farmers, rural communities, and

       3      consumers.

       4             Thank you very much for the time.

       5             And if there's any questions.

       6             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you so much, Chris.

       7             Any questions?

       8             SENATOR JACKSON:  Chris --

       9             SENATOR METZGER:  I -- oh, sorry.

      10             SENATOR JACKSON:  Go ahead.

      11             SENATOR METZGER:  First of all, I just want

      12      to recognize Senator Diane Savino just joined us.

      13             And also I'd mentioned Senator John Liu in

      14      his absence, but now he's present.

      15             SENATOR JACKSON:  Chris, let me thank you for

      16      coming in and giving testimony.

      17             And, obviously, it's important to hear from

      18      everyone, and especially you and your family.

      19             Obviously, we all wish your family well.

      20             And I don't, and I don't think anyone, wants

      21      to see a situation where your farm or any other farm

      22      goes out of business as a result of this.

      23             But, we also know that, based on reports by

      24      the farmworkers, the people that do the analysis and

      25      interviews, many farmworkers may not want to come in


       1      here and give testimony for fear of retribution, and

       2      stuff like that.  It's just a normal fear that they

       3      have.

       4             And I just -- I'm just concerned about the

       5      fact that, I want to make sure that, whatever

       6      happens, it benefits both the farmers and the

       7      workers, and to me that's very important.

       8             And I'm an urban boy.  I'm born and raised in

       9      New York City.  I've never worked on a farm so

      10      I don't know what it is.

      11             And I know that, you know, I can't tell you

      12      because you have the experience and you know that.

      13             One of the things that I was thinking about

      14      when other testimonies were being given, about the

      15      fact that, overtime, you know, whether or not, if,

      16      for example, the workers' advocates will look at,

      17      for example, the financial situation of small

      18      farmers to determine whether or not they can afford

      19      to pay X amount of dollars.

      20             And I don't know if that's been done, but

      21      I just throw that out there to prove to all those

      22      that are looking to give the workers what we feel

      23      are right and just, looking at the financial

      24      situation of the farmers.

      25             Any thoughts on that?


       1             CHRIS KELDER:  Well, you know, the market

       2      basically tells where -- you know, if -- we can't

       3      hire somebody if we're not competitive with the

       4      wage.  They'll go somewhere else to work.

       5             So, you have to be competitive with the wage.

       6             But when you come into an hourly situation,

       7      with a fluctuating seasonality of a farm, and, for

       8      my instance, many of these kids only have two months

       9      that they can work.  And they're trying to make

      10      every dollar they can, to put it away, so they can

      11      go away to school or do something else.

      12             And that's going to hit them in the pocket

      13      because they're not -- they're just not going to get

      14      the hours that they may have gotten.

      15             SENATOR JACKSON:  Just, approximately, how

      16      many workers do you have, and whether or not those

      17      are the individual ones that can go anywhere they

      18      wish?  Or --

      19             CHRIS KELDER:  All my workers can go anywhere

      20      they want.

      21             We have --

      22             SENATOR JACKSON:  Approximately.

      23             CHRIS KELDER:  We have approximately

      24      15 seasonal people, mostly our local high school and

      25      college kids.


       1             SENATOR JACKSON:  Thank you.

       2             SENATOR METZGER:  (Microphone off.)

       3             Thank you very much.

       4             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is Billy Riccaldo,

       5      followed by Elizabeth Ryan.

       6             And if Eric Ooms could come up to the stage.

       7             BILLY RICCALDO:  Good afternoon.

       8             And I want to thank the Senators for bringing

       9      this attention to the exploitation of the

      10      farmworkers in New York State.

      11             My name is Billy Riccaldo.  I am here in my

      12      capacity as president of the Hudson Valley Area

      13      Federation (sic).

      14             Hudson Valley Area Federation (sic)

      15      represents 13 -- 113,000 members from the public

      16      sector, the private sector, and the buildings

      17      trades.

      18             Hudson Valley Area Federation (sic) is the

      19      local-affiliated New York State AFL-CIO, and the

      20      AFL-CIO of the Hudson Valley Labor Federation (sic)

      21      has advocates on behalf of the farmworkers for

      22      decades.

      23             We have proudly supported the farmworkers

      24      fair labor practices since the introduction in 1999.

      25             It's been 20 years since there has been any


       1      meaningful, substantive improvements for the

       2      farmworkers in this state.

       3             Now is the time to pass the Farmworkers Fair

       4      Labor Act (sic).

       5             There is simply no justification for the

       6      State to afford farmworkers fewer and less-stringent

       7      protection and rights in the workplace.

       8             There is no reason to treat them any less

       9      than any other worker in New York.

      10             Their work is a matter of justice, and

      11      unconscionable that farmworkers do not have the same

      12      protection and rights of every other worker in this

      13      state.

      14             This second-class treatment enshrines the

      15      state law has led to creation of subset of workers

      16      that are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

      17             Without collective bargaining rights, these

      18      workers have no voice at work.

      19             Without a voice in the workplace, farmworkers

      20      are robbed of opportunity to access the few rights

      21      they have without fear of retaliation.

      22             In the hearings last week we heard about

      23      farmworkers who have experienced sexual harassment

      24      in the workplace, wage theft.

      25             While there is no question that these were


       1      illegal acts under current law, it is the type of

       2      behavior that often goes unreported because the

       3      victims want to protect their jobs.

       4             Totally unacceptable in this state, in any

       5      state, but in this state.

       6             Other factors include language skills, race,

       7      immigration status, also makes farmworkers more

       8      susceptible to exploitation.

       9             Another factor that leads to exploitation,

      10      but has not received enough attention, is farm

      11      housing.

      12             There is no question that some farmworkers

      13      who live in the farm housing see it as a benefit;

      14      however, farmworkers who live on their

      15      employees' (sic) farms are more vulnerable to

      16      exploitation than anybody else.

      17             Additionally, while some have portrayed

      18      provisions of housing, the Farmworkers Fair Labor

      19      Act (sic) provides overtime pay, a true day of rest,

      20      collective bargaining rights, which would put them

      21      on par with other workers in this state and other

      22      states, compensation, temporary disability

      23      insurance, and minimum wage.

      24             It would also expand the application of

      25      sanitary code for all farmworkers.


       1             This legislation would end state sanctions

       2      second-class treatment of farmworkers.

       3             Again, on behalf of the Hudson Valley Area

       4      Federation (sic), I ask you to pass this Farmworkers

       5      Practice Act (sic).

       6             I also want to say, there is no reason why

       7      this state can't get more grants out to these farms

       8      so these farmworkers can have a decent living, can

       9      earn work for their family, can earn money.

      10             There's also grants out there, I believe, for

      11      machinery.

      12             You know what?  There should be for these

      13      farm -- for the owners, just to make it better for

      14      the farmworkers, and themselves.

      15             So, I believe this act is a great thing, and

      16      I believe it is for the workers, their families, and

      17      I think they deserve that.

      18             I know they deserve that.

      19             Thank you.

      20             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      21             SENATOR JACKSON:  Sir?

      22             SENATOR METZGER:  There's a question.

      23             SENATOR RAMOS:  Make it a quick one, Bob.

      24             SENATOR JACKSON:  I'm trying.  I mean, this

      25      is a hearing.


       1             So, thank you for coming in and giving your

       2      testimony.

       3             So you mentioned about wage theft from

       4      workers, and that many of them are maybe afraid

       5      or -- to report it.

       6             Now, what -- give me an example of, what do

       7      you mean that -- the wage theft?

       8             How are they paid?

       9             Are they paid in cash?  Are they paid by

      10      check?

      11             And how are they stealing if somebody is

      12      stealing the wages from them?

      13             BILLY RICCALDO:  Well, I believe some of it

      14      has to do with, when they're living there, and, just

      15      say, and I'm just using this for example, they're

      16      making $50.

      17             You know what?  They're charging them rent a

      18      lot higher than it's supposed to be.  Then they're

      19      charging them more rent for their food.

      20             That's what makes the lower rates

      21      (indiscernible), which is totally unacceptable.

      22             And, again, under fear, they don't want to

      23      say anything.

      24             SENATOR JACKSON:  And is this -- is this what

      25      you have heard as a leader in -- for AFL-CIO in this


       1      area?

       2             BILLY RICCALDO:  This is the information

       3      I got, yes.

       4             SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay.  Thank you.

       5             BILLY RICCALDO:  Thank you.

       6             SENATOR METZGER:  So, I just want to point

       7      out that the housing that farmers provide is free

       8      housing.  They're not charged for it.

       9             It's required by the H-2A program, that

      10      they're not charged for that.

      11             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is Elizabeth Ryan.

      12             If Eric Ooms and Ila Riggs could both come

      13      and get ready to testify.

      14             ELIZABETH RYAN:  Hi, everybody.

      15             I'm Elizabeth Ryan, and I own Breezy Hill

      16      Orchard and Stone Ridge Orchard, and I operate three

      17      farms in two counties.

      18             I'm a lifelong farmer.  I'm from a long line

      19      of farmers.

      20             I'm a founder of Greenmarket, and I consider

      21      myself a progressive activist farmer.

      22             I believe in social justice.  I believe in

      23      fair wages.

      24             I believe that every hand that touches the

      25      apple should be fairly and appropriately treated and


       1      compensated.

       2             I have a long history of working with the

       3      Hudson Valley American Health Centers.

       4             I sat on that board for many years, and I'm

       5      very proud that our farm has been honored twice by

       6      that organization for our contributions to

       7      developing a more just and sustainable vision for

       8      everyone in the food and agriculture system.

       9             And I say that not to establish our

      10      credentials, but simply to tell you that I believe

      11      that I have a deep set of shared values with the

      12      goals of this bill.

      13             But, I respectfully would echo the testimony

      14      provided by Michael Hurwitz of Greenmarket, and

      15      Maritza Owens, that I wholeheartedly endorse.

      16             Agriculture is under tremendous pressure from

      17      all sides:  The climate.  Adulterated food coming in

      18      from offshore.  Pricing pressure, there is endless

      19      downward pricing pressure.

      20             If we could get $5 a pound for apples,

      21      everyone could have shared prosperity.

      22             If we could get $10 a dozen for eggs,

      23      everyone could have shared prosperity.

      24             And with respect to the previous speaker,

      25      there are a few grants, and there are little bits of


       1      Band-Aid solutions.

       2             But what we need is, obviously, a green new

       3      deal for food and agriculture that is holistic and

       4      encompasses the entire system.

       5             We need that desperately, and I want to

       6      invite you guys to be partners in that process.

       7             You've been hearing testimony from many

       8      worthy people on both sides of the issue.

       9             I believe that what we have in common is

      10      greater than our differences.

      11             We disagree on this bill.

      12             This bill has the potential to be one more

      13      nail in the coffin.

      14             It's potentially catastrophic, and it pains

      15      me incredibly to not support a bill that I think has

      16      worthy goals.

      17             And I'd like to see a moratorium.

      18             I'd like to see us continue this process with

      19      all of the parties who have turned out, and really,

      20      really have a radical green new deal.

      21             Grants, they're de minimis for farmers.

      22             There are a few of them.

      23             Crop insurance?  De minimis.

      24             So I think, respectfully, and I say this as a

      25      founder of Greenmarket who does many farmers'


       1      markets, there is a large gap in understanding.

       2             We are with you.

       3             And, again, with respect to the previous

       4      gentleman, I've been farming for 35 years, and the

       5      growers that I know, I know of no one who engages in

       6      wage theft.  I know of no one who is not

       7      compensating their workers appropriately.

       8             And at the risk of addressing one of the many

       9      elephants in the room, immigration.

      10             The fact that we have a population of people

      11      who are largely undocumented, it's a system of

      12      de facto Apartheid in America, and we have to end

      13      that.

      14             And we need you to help us end it.

      15             So this is not, I believe, the appropriate

      16      mechanism in this minute, this way, to solve those

      17      problems.

      18             Those problems are larger; and, meanwhile,

      19      farmers are struggling terribly, as you may know.

      20             The perception that farmers are wealthy, it

      21      takes one hour of bad weather to wipe us out for the

      22      year.

      23             Pricing is typically below the cost for

      24      production.

      25             Once in a while you hit it right.


       1             A lot of us are creative.

       2             I see my employees as partners in my

       3      business.

       4             I'm in the process of giving equity to a

       5      longtime farmworker who's worked at the farm for a

       6      long time, and making him a partner in the business.

       7             So, we really believe in compensation and

       8      fairness.

       9             But I do not believe, and I think you're

      10      hearing this resounding from the agricultural

      11      committee community, I do not believe that this bill

      12      is going to get us there.

      13             That's the long and short of it.

      14                [Applause.]

      15             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you, Elizabeth.

      16             First, Senator Liu has a question, if you

      17      could just answer a couple of questions.

      18             SENATOR LIU:  Thank you, Ms. Ryan, for your

      19      passionate testimony.

      20             And, good to hear that there are progressive

      21      farmers.

      22             ELIZABETH RYAN:  Many of us.

      23             SENATOR LIU:  Farmers with progressive

      24      values.

      25             You mentioned in your testimony that,


       1      oftentimes, the cost of production exceeds the price

       2      that you can get on the market.

       3             So, what happens?

       4             I mean, how are you able to sustain the farm

       5      for 35 years?

       6             Is that usually a very temporary situation

       7      that you just have to weather?

       8             Or is it, oftentimes, a longer term than

       9      you'd like?

      10             ELIZABETH RYAN:  I thank you for the

      11      question, and it's a very profound question which

      12      doesn't have a soundbite for an answer.

      13             Certainly, we need safety nets for farmers

      14      and farmworkers.

      15             I believe that the cost of food should be

      16      higher.

      17             And I believe that people who are low income

      18      need to be supported in every way they can to have

      19      healthy food.  We need to expand every program that

      20      works with that community.

      21             But, we do compete in a, quote/unquote,

      22      global economy.

      23             There is tremendous amount of adulterated.

      24             I mean, go to the supermarket and pick up one

      25      of those juice boxes, and ask yourself, you know,


       1      what's in that juice box?

       2             It's typically concentrate coming from

       3      somewhere else.  It's incredibly unregulated and,

       4      often, very toxic.

       5             So, we have a food system that's broken.

       6             We have a social-justice system that's

       7      broken.

       8             And we all share goals.

       9             And I'd like to see us put down our swords

      10      and come together as a community of progressive

      11      people who want it to work.

      12             There is not a simple solution.

      13             I spent summers on my grandparents' farm in

      14      Iowa.

      15             They survived "The Depression."  They

      16      survived the '60s and the '70s.

      17             And their solution was to get bigger and

      18      bigger and bigger, and they're still losing money.

      19             They're now farming 2500 acres of corn.

      20             So I think, without some form of government

      21      support, there are a lot of European models that

      22      work.

      23             And I would invite you to convene a panel to

      24      look at some solutions.

      25             SENATOR LIU:  So, overall, the cost of


       1      production can't possibly exceed the prices that you

       2      can garner on the marketplace for a long time.

       3             ELIZABETH RYAN:  It often does.

       4             SENATOR LIU:  It often does, but not -- it

       5      can't be that much; right?

       6             It can't happen all the time.

       7             ELIZABETH RYAN:  I think one of the reasons

       8      that farmers go out of business is because of a

       9      chronic price.

      10             We actually call it "parity."

      11             A chronic gap between pricing in the

      12      marketplace, and then when the losses occur, whether

      13      they're from weather or markets, they are

      14      catastrophic.

      15             So, this week it was pretty cold and rainy.

      16             I'm a fruit grower.

      17             We had a frost event.

      18             Every fruit grower I know in the valley is

      19      wondering --

      20             SENATOR LIU:  Ms. Ryan --

      21             ELIZABETH RYAN:  -- will they have a crop at

      22      all?

      23             SENATOR LIU:  Ms. Ryan, Senator Metzger has

      24      been an incredible advocate for farmworkers, as well

      25      as farmers, in the state.  And, you know, she does


       1      give us information quite a bit.

       2             One of the things that she's talked about is

       3      the fact that farmers often go into debt.

       4             Is that a chronic issue?  Is that --

       5             ELIZABETH RYAN:  That farmers go into debt?

       6             SENATOR LIU:  Go into debt, and continue to

       7      go into deeper debt.

       8             ELIZABETH RYAN:  I'm hesitant to answer that

       9      question, but as someone who has $2 million in

      10      land-based debt right now, the answer is yes.

      11             As someone who often posts a hundred- to

      12      two-hundred-thousand-dollar loss in -- in one out of

      13      every three years, at least, do we go into debt?

      14             Yes.

      15             Do we leverage every asset we have?

      16             Yes.

      17             Do I have health insurance?

      18             No.

      19             SENATOR LIU:  Ms. Ryan, one last question for

      20      you, if you don't mind.

      21             You said you grow apples on your family farm?

      22             ELIZABETH RYAN:  Yeah.

      23             SENATOR LIU:  What would be a typical cost

      24      per pound -- production cost per pound of apples?

      25             ELIZABETH RYAN:  Well, so -- so, again, there


       1      isn't a soundbite there.

       2             The obvious things, like, what does it cost

       3      to grow (indiscernible)?

       4                (Indiscernible cross-talking.)

       5             SENATOR LIU:  Well, I mean --

       6             ELIZABETH RYAN:  What does it cost --

       7             SENATOR LIU:  -- you mentioned before, if you

       8      could get $5 a pound, then there would be plenty to

       9      go around.

      10             If you could get $10, everybody could be well

      11      off.

      12             ELIZABETH RYAN:  So we've -- we've --

      13             SENATOR LIU:  So what is the production cost?

      14             ELIZABETH RYAN:  -- we've run those numbers,

      15      and I'd be happy to share them with you.

      16             And when I came to the Hudson Valley, we

      17      wanted to be the better farmers.

      18             We wanted to be the place where people were

      19      proud to work and earned a decent living, and could

      20      achieve their goals and dreams, every single person

      21      who worked for us.

      22             And we asked ourselves:  What do we have to

      23      do --

      24             SENATOR LIU:  I go to my supermarket, I pay

      25      1.69 for Gala.


       1             ELIZABETH RYAN:  Right.

       2             SENATOR LIU:  1.79 for Golden Delicious.

       3             ELIZABETH RYAN:  Yeah.

       4             SENATOR LIU:  And 1.99 for Fuji.

       5             ELIZABETH RYAN:  And the grower doesn't get

       6      the $1.99, do they?

       7             SENATOR LIU:  I understand that, which is why

       8      I'm trying to get a sense as to how hard it is for

       9      apple farmers in our state.

      10             You know, I don't want to see apple farmers

      11      leave our state.

      12             I happen to like apples.  I happen to not

      13      like doctors.

      14                [Laughter.]

      15             SENATOR LIU:  But, nonetheless, we want to

      16      make sure that our policies --

      17             ELIZABETH RYAN:  We have two issues,

      18      respectfully.

      19             So if we had a full crop every year, $3 a

      20      pound for apples all of the time would probably fix

      21      it, if we had a full crop of apples.

      22             With climate change, we never have a reliable

      23      full crop of apples.

      24             We now are in a model where we have to expect

      25      that we will lose our crop at least one out of every


       1      three years.

       2             That is the new normal.

       3             And we are fighting to keep the pollinators

       4      going.

       5             We are fighting for open space.

       6             And we are fighting to pay our employees as

       7      much as we can, and, by the way, put them in the

       8      best possible housing.

       9             And, ironically, we often don't get

      10      cooperation on housing.

      11             If I had my dream, every employee that I have

      12      would live in a very nice house on the farm,

      13      somewhere.

      14             We have employees that are traveling one to

      15      two hours to get to work, and living in really

      16      substandard off-farm housing, because they can't

      17      find anywhere to live in this county that they can

      18      afford.

      19             And that is another piece of the holistic

      20      vision that we need to have.

      21             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you, Elizabeth;

      22      thanks very much.

      23             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is Eric Ooms,

      24      followed by Ila Riggs.

      25             And if Jack Banning could come up.


       1             ERIC OOMS:  Thank you.

       2             My name is Eric Ooms.  My family and I have a

       3      dairy farm in Kinderhook, in Columbia County, where

       4      we milk 420 cows, which I don't have in my

       5      testimony, with robotics because of some of these

       6      issues.

       7             My father started in this country in 1950 as

       8      a 17-year-old immigrant, with my uncle and my

       9      grandfather, and our family tradition goes back to

      10      1525 in the Netherlands.

      11             I'm here to talk about the bigger picture,

      12      though, instead of my farm so much.

      13             We all agree that our employees deserve to be

      14      treated with dignity and respect.

      15             We cannot put food on your table without

      16      their commitment to an occupation that we all hold

      17      dear.

      18             New York Farm Bureau is part of a committee

      19      led by the commissioners of agriculture and markets

      20      and labor, where we work to address worker issues

      21      side by side with farmworker advocates.

      22             Also, to end the scourge of worker

      23      mistreatment in all industries, we're part of the

      24      Governor's Exploited Worker Task Force, seeking to

      25      find workable solutions.


       1             The farm community has been a leader in

       2      advocating for immigration reform to bring migrant

       3      workers out of the shadows.

       4             That's one of the big issues that doesn't get

       5      brought up in this whole issue.

       6             For 20 years -- I didn't mention verbally,

       7      but I'm the vice president of the New York Farm

       8      Bureau.

       9             For 20 years we've been advocating for an

      10      immigration solution, and we have been rather

      11      pliable, whether it be piecemeal, comprehensive, we

      12      need to do something.

      13             This has been our message for 20 years.

      14             That is unsaid in this whole discussion.

      15             New York Farm Bureau's championed the

      16      antihuman trafficking laws, worked with New York --

      17      NYCAM, to offer safety training in Spanish to

      18      thousands of farmworkers.

      19             The dairy community has worked with OSHA to

      20      implement the local emphasis program that has random

      21      safety audits on dairy farms.

      22             We've also been part of a coalition with the

      23      Labor Roadshow that Dr. Stup mentioned earlier.

      24             We also continue to push for funding for

      25      New York State agribusiness development program.


       1             We do this because it's the right thing to

       2      do, and it's, just, we're trying to be proactive on

       3      labor issues despite what some might say.

       4             Just as important, we are supportive of a

       5      myriad of laws and regulations that already aim to

       6      protect workers from wage theft, housing violations,

       7      and alleged abuse.

       8             If anyone in this room knows of violations,

       9      they must be reported.

      10             Accusations that farmers as a group are

      11      treating our workers unfairly is hurtful and not

      12      grounded in fact.

      13             It's important to note that this legislation

      14      will not change any of that.

      15             There are bad actors in every industry, and

      16      the New York State Department of Labor is already

      17      doing its part.

      18             And if they need more resources, they need to

      19      be given those resources.

      20             We've also heard comparisons to California

      21      agriculture, with the assumption that if overtime

      22      can work there, it can work here.

      23             There are dramatic differences between

      24      California and New York.

      25             And the reality is, in California, you can


       1      have three growing seasons, where we have one just

       2      because of our weather.

       3             And though it isn't raining right here today,

       4      it was raining at home.

       5             So I appreciate you scheduling this hearing

       6      for rain at my farm.

       7                [Laughter.]

       8             ERIC OOMS:  But this means it's just -- it's

       9      just -- you've got to take all these things into

      10      account.

      11             I urge you to understand the work that is

      12      happening on farms all across the state to provide

      13      good, safe working conditions on our farms.

      14             I ask you to please take into account the

      15      economic realities facing farms today, and that

      16      includes the dramatic loss of more than 2100 farms.

      17             I will just close with your question,

      18      Senator Liu.

      19             When we talk about being below the cost of

      20      production, there's two different costs of

      21      production.

      22             You have a cash cost of production, and then

      23      you have a cost that you can actually renew the

      24      business.

      25             And the cash cost doesn't dip below that as


       1      much.  But what happens is, people eat into their

       2      equity from previous generations.

       3             Their barns start to fall apart.

       4             People aren't keeping those things up.

       5             So when we say "below the cost of

       6      production," that's a legit thing.

       7             The question is, for everybody it's

       8      different, and the question is -- or, the answer is:

       9      The reality is, the cash cost, and what you need to

      10      actually sustain as a business, are two totally

      11      different things.

      12             So, I thank you for the opportunity to be

      13      here today.

      14             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much, Eric.

      15             Any questions?

      16             Senator Liu?

      17             Oh, I'm sorry.

      18             And we're joined by Senator Shelly Mayer.

      19             Thank you so much for coming.

      20             SENATOR LIU:  Thank you, Eric, for the

      21      distinction between, I guess economists often

      22      call -- talk about the marginal costs and the

      23      marginal revenues.

      24             And as long as the marginal revenues are

      25      slightly more than the marginal costs, then it's


       1      still worth sustaining the farm, even though you

       2      either go further and further into debt, or you

       3      continue to lose the equity that's been built up in

       4      past generations.

       5             ERIC OOMS:  Right.

       6             SENATOR LIU:  What we're talking about here

       7      are a set of price controls, really, I mean, for

       8      wages.  A price floor for wages.

       9             There are -- and I think Elizabeth --

      10      Ms. Ryan mentioned what European countries do.

      11             They either have price supports for the

      12      agricultural products.

      13             Some Asian countries have price supports for

      14      their staples as well, just to make sure that

      15      there's a capacity to continue to grow the food

      16      domestically and, therefore, not rely on

      17      international assistance or trade.

      18             Do the farmers, or, perhaps you yourself, do

      19      you advocate price controls, perhaps at the state

      20      level?

      21             For example, we're saying, through this bill,

      22      the wages, the price of labor, should not be below a

      23      certain point.  Perhaps the price of apples should

      24      not be below $3 a pound.

      25             Is there any kind of consideration there?


       1             The other thing that the Europeans do, is

       2      they just buy up a lot of their apples, but then

       3      they have a lot of rotting apples that are being

       4      stored in barns.

       5             ERIC OOMS:  Right.

       6             So, we could have a very long economic

       7      discussion.

       8             When you go it into -- I'm more familiar with

       9      the area because I'm a dairy guy, so I'm not going

      10      to touch apples.

      11             But, I know, with dairy --

      12             SENATOR LIU:  All right.

      13             Well, earlier there was a comment about the

      14      price of milk being very low here.

      15             ERIC OOMS:  Right, no, I understand.

      16             -- for instance, with dairy, we tried

      17      20 years ago to institute a dairy compact that would

      18      price milk at a higher level in the northeast.

      19             We had to have -- we had the six New England

      20      states and about five mid-eastern states that were

      21      all going to work together to price milk.

      22             We had to get ratification from Congress,

      23      which we never did get.

      24             The point -- my point is, is if we talked

      25      about having a price control in the statewide level,


       1      you're going have issues with interstate commerce.

       2             And that is, we tried that, and that was my

       3      thing, that's what I came up on.  That was my issue.

       4             And I'm going to tell you, I love that issue,

       5      and I'm all for that issue, it's my passion, and

       6      it's not practical.  We couldn't politically get it

       7      done.

       8             So I'm not opposed to the concept, but it's

       9      incredibly -- I'm willing to talk.

      10             SENATOR LIU:  By the way, I'm not necessarily

      11      saying I'm in favor of that concept.

      12             ERIC OOMS:  Fair enough.

      13                [Laughter.]

      14             SENATOR LIU:  I'm just say (sic), this is a

      15      hearing, you know, and the idea of having this

      16      hearing is to hear all ideas --

      17             ERIC OOMS:  I understand.

      18             SENATOR LIU:  -- and see where people stand.

      19             ERIC OOMS:  Sure.

      20             Thank you.

      21             SENATOR LIU:  Thank you.

      22             ERIC OOMS:  Thank you.

      23             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up, Ila Riggs,

      24      followed by Jack Banning.

      25             And if Jessica Orozco Guttlein could come to


       1      the stage.

       2             ILA M. RIGGS:  Good afternoon.

       3             Thank you, Senators, for the opportunity to

       4      voice my concerns about the Farmworker (sic) Fair

       5      Labor Practices Act.

       6             I'm a first-generation farmer, starting my

       7      berry farm on a worn-out corn field in Stephentown,

       8      New York, in 1996.

       9             I grow strawberries, raspberries,

      10      blueberries, diversified vegetables, and cut

      11      flowers.

      12             Berry farmers are particularly vulnerable to

      13      weather events destroying our crops.

      14             Most people in New York State do not know

      15      that 99 percent of the strawberries grown in the

      16      state ripen in a three- to four-week harvest window

      17      from about mid-June to the 4th of July.

      18             Consumers may see strawberries 365 days a

      19      year in the supermarket, but New York berries are

      20      only available for three to four weeks.

      21             Raspberries and blueberries are similar.

      22             We have very short periods of time when these

      23      crops mature.

      24             For this reason, the overtime pay provision

      25      in this act is particularly onerous.


       1             In my situation, 70 percent of my income for

       2      the entire farm comes from the three berry farms.

       3             I have a total of 8 weeks during the summer

       4      to make 70 percent of my income for the entire year.

       5             I work 120 hours a week during the summer.

       6             My employees understand that one heavy rain

       7      storm will turn ripe berries to mush, or moldy,

       8      making them unsaleable, and that long days are

       9      necessary to get as much harvested as possible

      10      before a rainy period sets in.

      11             We have had the same employees return to our

      12      farm year after year.

      13             10 Guatemalan children have received

      14      educations in Guatemala because of the wages their

      15      parents earn at the Berry Patch.

      16             The overtime provision of this act would end

      17      all of that, as there is no way I can be

      18      economically competitive paying $20 an hour for

      19      someone to pick berries.

      20             In addition to their wages, we have to

      21      provide free housing and utilities, pay their travel

      22      both ways, their visa fees, and provide shopping

      23      trips once a week.

      24             In 2018 we paid out over $100,000 in wages,

      25      plus covered all the other associated costs, while


       1      my husband and I, both of whom have master's

       2      degrees, lost $2,137.

       3             I know that many people refer to this as a

       4      social-justice issue.

       5             I have experienced -- and I'm very --

       6      I believe very strongly in social justice.

       7             I have experienced social injustices my

       8      entire life being a woman in a non-traditional

       9      field.

      10             As my husband and I approach retirement age,

      11      we have been proactive about finding a young couple

      12      that can take the business that we created from

      13      nothing and take it to the next level.

      14             After looking for three years, we have

      15      finally found a couple who we believe are a great

      16      fit.

      17             How is it social justice, that just as we

      18      have a viable option for exiting our business, it

      19      can get snatched away from us because a young couple

      20      will not be able to afford to pay wage rates that

      21      are so much higher than our competitors?

      22             So after 22 years of working to make our farm

      23      into an asset that will provide a retirement income,

      24      how is it social justice to have that option taken

      25      from us by people that have never had to make their


       1      entire living in a four-month time period?

       2             New York has a four- to five-month growing

       3      season.  We can't change that.

       4             When your entire livelihood is dependent on

       5      what is produced and sold in four to six months a

       6      year, everyone on a farm has to work more than

       7      40 hours a week.

       8             Employees are often making more than the

       9      owners and getting all their living expenses covered

      10      as well.

      11             As I drive along the Route 22 Corridor, I've

      12      noticed the same economic stagnation that we have in

      13      the Taconic Valley.

      14             Once active dairy barns are falling into the

      15      ground, farm equipment stores and restaurants have

      16      closed.

      17             The only thing that is new along the drive

      18      are the Dollar General stores in each small town

      19      selling cheap, imported products.

      20             How is it social justice that rural New York

      21      State has been forgotten, and the economic wasteland

      22      that now exists in many small towns in the rural

      23      areas will be accelerated by more farms going out of

      24      business because we can't compete against much lower

      25      wages in other states and countries?


       1             So, again, I thank you for this opportunity.

       2             I know that people that do not grow up on

       3      farms often don't understand the impact of what

       4      weather can do to berries.

       5             So I actually brought you some samples of

       6      simulated rainfall on ripe berry crops, and what it

       7      does to us economically.

       8             So in here I have berries that did not get

       9      wet, and they're very edible and nice and sweet.

      10             SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay, don't eat all of

      11      them.

      12                [Laughter.]

      13             ILA M. RIGGS:  And I have berries

      14      (inaudible) --

      15             SENATOR RAMOS:  At least we know it's under

      16      $15.

      17             ILA M. RIGGS:  -- that are moldy and

      18      collapsing, and will never be able to be sold.

      19             And that can happen in a 10-minute rain

      20      storm.

      21             So we have a short growing season here.  We

      22      cannot get around that.

      23             And because of that, we have to work like

      24      hell during summer, and do our other tasks during

      25      the winter, and think during the winter about how we


       1      can make things better the next year so that we're

       2      not losing money each year because of something

       3      totally out of our control.

       4             So, again, thank you for the opportunity.

       5                [Applause.]

       6             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

       7             If you could answer a question.

       8             Senator Savino.

       9             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Ms. Riggs, for

      10      your testimony.

      11             And this is the third of the hearings that

      12      we've had, and there's a recurring theme from a lot

      13      of the farmers about:

      14             The concern of the overtime, particularly

      15      over 40 hours a week;

      16             The fear of collective bargaining, the

      17      potential strike, particularly, because, as you

      18      pointed out, you have a four-month growing season.

      19             But the other thing that keeps coming up, and

      20      I hear this over and over, is there didn't seem to

      21      be a recognition of the costs associated with

      22      providing housing and medical care.

      23             That doesn't get calculated into the

      24      compensation package for farmworkers?

      25             ILA M. RIGGS:  No, we -- that's a


       1      requirement.

       2             We've done H-2A, so you're told what the

       3      hourly wage must be.  And it's a requirement that

       4      you provide housing, transportation, visa fees,

       5      weekly trips to the supermarket.

       6             You can't get your workers otherwise.

       7             SENATOR SAVINO:  And is that true for

       8      farmworkers in other states as well?

       9             Because I understand, one of the other big

      10      challenges you have, and I think it might help

      11      explain the concern about the difference in pricing,

      12      is that you're competing with places like

      13      Pennsylvania and Delaware and New Jersey where the

      14      minimum wage rates are much lower.

      15             Is that --

      16             ILA M. RIGGS:  Yes, I mean, if somebody is in

      17      H-2A, they are required to provide housing

      18      utilities, et cetera.

      19             We provide free housing, utilities,

      20      et cetera, because we wouldn't get workers

      21      otherwise.

      22             And we feel that if we're going to provide it

      23      for H-2A workers, we should provide it for non-H2A

      24      workers.

      25             SENATOR SAVINO:  Uh-huh?


       1             ILA M. RIGGS:  I do want to note that our

       2      former labor rep in our area actually called me a

       3      "model farm employer for New York State."

       4             We -- my employees get angry at me when I try

       5      to limit their hours.

       6             There are family arguments in Guatemala about

       7      who gets to come work at the Berry Patch each

       8      summer, because they want to make the money to send

       9      home again.

      10             So a lot of -- I just can't relate to these

      11      stories of people being taken advantage of, because

      12      that's not the case on so many New York farms.

      13             SENATOR SAVINO:  Well, I can't imagine if you

      14      were that type of employer you'd be standing here

      15      talking to us.

      16             And we admire -- you know, I certainly admire

      17      your -- the way you treat your workforce.

      18             I just want to go back to a couple of things,

      19      because I'm confused -- I shouldn't say confused.

      20             I'm increasingly more concerned about the

      21      state of farming and agriculture in this state

      22      because, again, you look at, New York State is an

      23      agricultural state.  That's our largest industry.

      24             Yet, and still, I can't walk into a

      25      supermarket or a farmers' market in my own community


       1      and buy produce that came from a New York State

       2      grower.

       3             It's coming from somewhere else.

       4             And in even the largest redistribution center

       5      in the country, Hunts Point Terminal Market, they

       6      don't have -- the majority of their products moving

       7      through there are not from New York State farmers.

       8             So, independent of what we're talking about

       9      here today, I think we need to have a bigger

      10      discussion about what we can do to support farming

      11      in New York State, so that our farmers are producing

      12      goods, and then able to sell them competitively in

      13      the state that they're living in.

      14             I mean, I would hope that we can continue

      15      that discussion.

      16             ILA M. RIGGS:  Absolutely, and I would

      17      welcome that discussion, and love to be part of that

      18      discussion.

      19             Although I will say that, we are some of the

      20      farmers that are downsizing and going out of

      21      business because, we've had it, is what it comes

      22      down to.

      23             It has just become too difficult.

      24             I had a decade birthday last December, and

      25      I said, I'm getting too old to be working 120 hours


       1      a week.

       2             SENATOR METZGER:  You look older than 10.

       3             ILA M. RIGGS:  We wish.

       4             You know, luckily, we have found this couple

       5      that, hopefully, we will be mentoring them, to help

       6      them take over the farm.

       7             But, we live 200 yards from Massachusetts.

       8             They can drive two miles down the road and

       9      rent land in Massachusetts, at a much lower cost for

      10      their labor than what we can in New York State.

      11             SENATOR SAVINO:  And one final question,

      12      because it just occurred to me.

      13             You said you're at a four-month season,

      14      that's where you have to make all your money.  You

      15      have to grow it, you have to -- you plant it, grow

      16      it, and harvest it.

      17             So do your workers leave at the end of the

      18      four-month season, or do they go somewhere else?  Do

      19      they go back to Guatemala?

      20             What happens then?

      21             ILA M. RIGGS:  With the H-2A workers, they

      22      have to go back home.

      23             So our H-2A workers work three to

      24      four months.

      25             People that we have that are local workers


       1      will go and find other jobs during the winter,

       2      usually working in a restaurant.

       3             SENATOR SAVINO:  But they don't stay working

       4      for you?

       5             ILA M. RIGGS:  Correct.

       6             SENATOR SAVINO:  Okay.  Thank you.

       7             Thank you.

       8             SENATOR METZGER:  Senator Harckham, you had a

       9      question?

      10             SENATOR HARKHAM:  Thanks.

      11             I just -- thank you for your testimony, and I

      12      thank everyone for their testimony.

      13             The last speaker said something very

      14      illuminating, in that, you know, you have one

      15      season, and you've just articulated how short that

      16      is.

      17             You're competing against berries from

      18      California where they have, essentially, three

      19      growing seasons.

      20             So right off the bat, there's an economic

      21      pressure that you're facing.

      22             And this is just the same question I have

      23      asked other people, and I'll continue to pop up

      24      with:

      25             Is there any middle ground at all between


       1      what's in the bill at 40 hours a week, versus what

       2      the first speaker suggested, not until 120 hours

       3      after two weeks?

       4             Is there -- is there -- is there no room for

       5      coming towards some sort of accommodation?

       6             ILA M. RIGGS:  I think that's probably a

       7      question for people smarter than I to figure out,

       8      because, when I have to make 70 percent of my income

       9      in 8 weeks, I don't see how it can work.

      10             You know, for other farms, there may be a way

      11      to do that.

      12             I personally, you know, will not let my

      13      workers work more than 65 hours a week.  I don't

      14      think it's healthy for them.

      15             And they get very angry with me when I do

      16      that, and threaten to go to other farms where they

      17      can get more hours.

      18             So, I think it's a discussion that you need

      19      all sides involved in, because our -- a non-farmer's

      20      idea of what is "middle ground" is probably very

      21      different than a farmer or farmworker's idea of what

      22      is "middle ground."

      23             SENATOR HARKHAM:  Thank you.

      24             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      25             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next is Jack Banning,


       1      followed by Jessica Orozco Guttlein.

       2             And, Beth Lyon, if you could come up.

       3             JACK BANNING:  Good afternoon.

       4             Thank you very much, Senators, for the

       5      opportunity to come and talk here.

       6             My name is Jack Banning.

       7             For the record, my wife and I are the owners

       8      of Black Sheep Hill Farm in Pine Plains, New York,

       9      which is in the northeast part of Dutchess County,

      10      not far from where the last speaker was speaking

      11      about.

      12             For the last 11 years we've been breeding

      13      Black Welsh Mountain Sheep for both meat and wool.

      14      We also raise pigs, as well as chickens for eggs,

      15      and work a few acres for garden vegetables in the

      16      summer.

      17             We're home to one of the largest flocks of

      18      Black Welsh Mountain Sheep in the United States,

      19      because it's a labor of love for my wife to try and

      20      save this heritage breed, which eats us alive.  But

      21      we'll leave that for another discussion.

      22             The majority of our meat products are sold to

      23      restaurants in the northeast corner of Dutchess,

      24      restaurants which are eager to offer local products

      25      on their menus, as well as through the innovative


       1      Farms-to-Tables program, which some of you may know

       2      about, which connects farmers with chefs and other

       3      end users, not just in the Hudson Valley, but in

       4      New York City as well.

       5             We also sell through other farm stands in the

       6      area and through our local IGA Peck's Market.

       7             Our own farm stand is open year-round.

       8             It's a small family farm.  We employ three

       9      full-time workers.  We use temporary help in the

      10      summer when we're harvesting vegetables.

      11             Everyone in our employ earns at least $15 an

      12      hour.

      13             And those summer employees, I might point

      14      out, as one other person did, are -- tend to be the

      15      local high school kids or college kids home for the

      16      summer, and we use them for two or three months.

      17             I'm here today because of my longstanding

      18      commitment to the passage of the Farm

      19      Farmworker (sic) Fair Labor Practices Act.

      20             I'm committed to this cause, to the extent

      21      that I have traveled to Albany, as well as met with

      22      my own legislators in their districts, on many

      23      occasions over the last several years.

      24             The fact that farmworkers have, essentially,

      25      and let's be honest here, essentially, no rights


       1      whatsoever, for overtime pay, disability insurance,

       2      a day off, or, in my estimation, for anything else,

       3      for that matter, is not just a travesty.  It is

       4      fundamentally immoral, and is contrary to everything

       5      decent people has always stood for in our society.

       6             I acknowledge that this struggle for equality

       7      for farmworkers is in some ways different from the

       8      struggles in the '60s for civil rights, yes.

       9             But, just as I and many others marched,

      10      demonstrated, and suffered in that time, we must

      11      continue the fight for equality, which means

      12      fighting for the passage of this bill.

      13             I'm in support of the bill as it is written,

      14      not just because I can see no reason why farmworkers

      15      should be treated differently from any other workers

      16      in our society, in our state.

      17             The legislation before the New York State

      18      Senate aims for nothing more than fair and just

      19      treatment of farmworkers.

      20             My reading of the proposed legislation makes

      21      it clear to me at least, that it seeks no special

      22      status, no special privileges, for farmworkers.

      23             Rather, it's legislation fairly drafted,

      24      I think, by fair-minded people aimed at simple

      25      fairness.


       1             And I believe this legislation would have no

       2      adverse economic effect whatsoever on farmers in our

       3      state.

       4             And I know this goes contrary to what a lot

       5      of farmers will say, and I could explain it, but

       6      I only have four minutes.

       7             Others testifying here today can likely

       8      address this part of the issue far better than

       9      I can.  Some of them are a lot bigger than we are.

      10             But as I have now said about five times, in

      11      the end, this is a moral issue.

      12             Legislators should simply do what is right,

      13      and the right thing to do is pass this legislation.

      14             One other point I'd like to make.

      15             I'm well aware that the New York State Farm

      16      Bureau has come out against this bill, obviously.

      17             They claim that they argue on behalf of small

      18      family farms.

      19             Now, I am a small family farmer, and as

      20      I have said, I support this bill.

      21             The arguments that they make against equality

      22      simply echo comments that have been made against the

      23      just treatment of farmworkers, and I might point

      24      out, domestic workers as well in this country, for

      25      decades.


       1             In the end, I can't help but wonder how much

       2      the farm bureau, hiding behind the guise of concern

       3      for small family farms, is reality, doing nothing

       4      more than protecting the large agricultural

       5      interests in certain parts of our state.

       6             That all being said, there are, of course,

       7      many obstinate challenges facing farmers within our

       8      agricultural system, this idea of a holistic

       9      solution.  And many of them certainly don't have

      10      anything to do with labor.

      11             I don't think, however, that our inability to

      12      solve those problems should lead to us force our

      13      farmworkers to carry an unfair burden.

      14             I'd urge the Senate to vote for equality, and

      15      then we can all turn our attention to creating an

      16      agricultural system in New York that is vibrant and

      17      successful on every level.

      18             Thank you very much.

      19                [Applause.]

      20             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      21             Senator Liu has a question.

      22             Senator Liu.

      23             SENATOR LIU:  Yes.

      24             Thank you for your courageous testimony.

      25                [Laughter.]


       1             SENATOR LIU:  The name of your farm is -- is

       2      that the name of your --

       3             JACK BANNING:  "Black Sheep" --

       4             SENATOR LIU:  -- was that name given by the

       5      farm bureau?

       6                [Laughter.]

       7             SENATOR LIU:  Or did you actually name that?

       8             JACK BANNING:  The name of the farm came

       9      before we started breeding black sheep, because my

      10      wife is the black sheep of her family, and I'm the

      11      black sheep of my family.

      12             SENATOR LIU:  How many employees do you have?

      13             JACK BANNING:  Three full-time.  And in the

      14      summertime we use some kids.

      15             We are not involved at all in the H-2A or, in

      16      general, the Latino immigration questions, and that

      17      sort of thing.

      18             Although that's another subject that I'm

      19      happy to talk about, as you might guess.

      20             But we have three.

      21             SENATOR LIU:  Okay.

      22             Thank you.

      23             SENATOR METZGER:  I have to say, I don't know

      24      much about sheep farming, but how does it compare in

      25      terms of -- I mean, it's a year-round enterprise.


       1             JACK BANNING:  Very definitely.

       2             SENATOR METZGER:  -- as opposed to a seasonal

       3      enterprise.

       4             And I'd just like to get a sense -- I don't

       5      know if you know this -- but how the hours compare,

       6      in terms of, like, a workweek for a farmer, for

       7      farmworkers.

       8             JACK BANNING:  In our case, my wife is the

       9      shepherd.  I'm the swine herd, I do the pigs.

      10             She's the shepherd, and she's devoted to this

      11      ridiculous breed of sheep that she's trying to save

      12      for the world.

      13                [Laughter.]

      14             JACK BANNING:  And I confess we don't make

      15      any money on the sheep.

      16             That part of our farm operation is, in fact,

      17      a labor of love, and we're lucky enough to be able

      18      to do it.

      19             The swine, on the other hand, the pigs,

      20      I make a reasonably decent buck on.  It's a good

      21      product.

      22             The sheep farming is absolutely year-round.

      23             This is lambing season, where we have two

      24      lambs -- two ewes yet left to go.

      25             My wife has had probably, on average,


       1      2 1/2 half hours of sleep a night for the last three

       2      weeks, because she's down there birthing lambs.

       3             Now, she does it.

       4             Somebody has to do it.

       5             And our farm manager frequently will take a

       6      night.  And sometimes we'll call up, it requires two

       7      people to pull a lamb out.

       8             But the other workers are not working those

       9      kinds of hours.

      10             All of our other workers work, generally, a

      11      35 to 45-hour week.

      12             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay.

      13             Thank you very much.

      14             JACK BANNING:  Okay.

      15             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next is

      16      Jessica Orozco Guttlein, followed by Beth Lyon.

      17             And if Julie Patterson could come up.

      18             JESSICA OROZCO GUTTLEIN:  Hello.

      19             Good afternoon.  I'm Jessica Orozco Guttlein.

      20             I'm assistant vice president for policy at

      21      The Hispanic Federation.

      22             Chairs Metzger, Ramos, Senator May (sic), and

      23      Committee members, thank you for the opportunity to

      24      testify on behalf of The Hispanic Federation and our

      25      network of 100 Latino community-based organizations.


       1             The Hispanic Federation is a service-oriented

       2      membership organization that works with more than

       3      100 Latino non-profits in the northeast and

       4      nationwide to promote the social, political, and

       5      economic well-being of Latinos -- the Latino

       6      community.

       7             HF does that by supporting and strengthening

       8      our Latino non-profits, conducting public policy

       9      research and advocacy, and offering our New York

      10      residents an array of community programs.

      11             Farmworkers labor under harsh conditions, as

      12      many people stated, and engage in intensive physical

      13      activity to feed all of us, yet they're exempt from

      14      several fundamental rights and protections that are

      15      afforded to other workers.

      16             The 2017 Census of Agriculture found that

      17      Sullivan County alone has 366 farms that span over

      18      59,942 acres, an increase of 45 farms and

      19      6,083 acres since the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

      20             Accordingly, the hired farm labor in

      21      Sullivan County has increased by 10 percent between

      22      2012 and 2017.

      23             That's 437 hired farm-labor workers, and

      24      305 of these laborers working more than 150 days per

      25      year.


       1             Nobody, not farmers, not farm laborers, not

       2      New Yorkers, want to see farms suffer or fail in

       3      New York State.

       4             On the contrary, we want to see them prosper,

       5      but not on the backs of precluding a vulnerable

       6      class of workers from basic labor laws that everyone

       7      else enjoys.

       8             We've heard salaried employees say, "I wish

       9      I had overtime.  You know, I work 60 hours a week."

      10             These office jobs are not the same.

      11             Farmers in this room will tell you that these

      12      office jobs are not the same as the jobs that take

      13      place on the farm every day, day in and day out.

      14             We've heard many, many economic arguments

      15      today, but to say that New York's farm industry will

      16      collapse if people earn, rightfully earn, work these

      17      overtime hours, is embarrassing to me.

      18             Are we saying that we've built this farm

      19      industry on solely exempting people from basic labor

      20      protections?

      21             No, we haven't.  We know that, we know that

      22      it's a lot more than that.

      23             This isn't going to collapse if we provide

      24      people with basic labor protections.

      25             And that's what you all are here for, to hear


       1      our story and to try to fix this.

       2             These exemptions create dangerous realities

       3      for farmworkers in New York State.

       4             Many farmers treat their farm laborers with

       5      respect, as we've heard before.  They care about

       6      them.  They don't want them to work over 65 hours

       7      because of concern out of their physical safety or

       8      mental health, whatever the case may be.

       9             Many of them independently already implement

      10      many of the protections that are outlined in this

      11      bill.

      12             But there are farmworkers who do not treat

      13      their farm laborers well, who take advantage of

      14      them, and, many farmers in this room probably know

      15      at least one of these individuals.

      16             We've heard through many of our advocacy

      17      activities that there are some farm laborers that

      18      have been threatened by their jobs, and I'm not

      19      saying it's anybody in this room, but that have been

      20      threatened by -- for their jobs if they speak out

      21      and advocate for overtime pay.

      22             We know that that's a reality today as well.

      23             We don't see a lot of farm laborers in this

      24      room, especially without the people/the farmers that

      25      they work on the land for.  We don't see them


       1      independently here.

       2             Well, they're working right now.  Right?

       3             But we don't see them here.

       4             SENATOR METZGER:  (Inaudible.)

       5             JESSICA OROZCO GUTTLEIN:  Oh, I'm so sorry.

       6             So climate change, seasonal work, that is

       7      something that we definitely agree with, that is

       8      something that is affecting our farm industry.

       9             We don't want to oversee that.

      10             But let's pass this bill, and then address

      11      those issues separately.  They're not mutually

      12      exclusively.

      13             As Senator Savino said, this is something

      14      that we do need to address, but not on the backs of

      15      farm laborers.

      16             And these overtime exemptions -- or, overtime

      17      implications aren't going to fix or solve this

      18      climate change and these seasonal issues.

      19             This is a separate issue that many people

      20      talk about.

      21             So we are in favor of passing this bill.

      22             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      23             Any questions?

      24             No?

      25             Thank you very much.


       1             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next is Beth Lyon, followed

       2      by Julie Patterson.

       3             And if Joseph Morgiewicz could come up.

       4             BETH LYON:  Chairwomen Metzger and Ramos, and

       5      honorable members of the Senate committees on

       6      Agriculture and Labor, I thank you for the

       7      opportunity to address this hearing in support of

       8      the Farmworker (sic) Fair Labor Practices Act.

       9             My name is Beth Lyon, and I'm a clinical

      10      professor of law at Cornell Law School where

      11      I direct the farmworker legal assistance clinic and

      12      the low-income taxpayer law and accounting

      13      practicum.

      14             The programs I run are teaching law firms in

      15      which students handle cases for real clients who

      16      cannot afford a lawyer.

      17             Since it opened in fall of 2015, the Cornell

      18      Law School Farmworker Clinic has represented

      19      unaccompanied, undocumented child and youth

      20      farmworkers in 11 counties across several regions in

      21      New York, including Western, Central, Southern Tier,

      22      and North Country.

      23             The purpose of my testimony today is to

      24      supplement the available data on child and youth

      25      farmworkers in New York State to affirm that there


       1      are children and youth in New York's waged

       2      agricultural labor force, and a significant

       3      percentage of them are living without parents or

       4      parental figures.

       5             There is very little government or private

       6      data on child farmworkers, and the department of

       7      labor concedes that it has failed to provide a good

       8      estimate, or state-level data, let alone county

       9      data.

      10             In a report issued last year, the government

      11      accountability office estimated that, in the eastern

      12      region of the United States, 15 percent of crop

      13      workers were age 17 and under, and 7 percent were

      14      13 and under, and that 34 percent of all crop

      15      workers aged 18 and under are directly hired as

      16      opposed to being contract laborers or the children

      17      of family farmers.

      18             The service providers that refer cases to my

      19      clinic report frequent encounters with young

      20      workers, including workers who did not disclose

      21      their real age at the point of hire, and a trend

      22      toward a growing number of youth employed on

      23      New York State farms.

      24             This is particularly concerning, given that

      25      significantly higher incidence of injury and


       1      fatality among working children on farms than

       2      children working in other settings.

       3             The clinic constantly receives requests to

       4      help children that it does not have the resources to

       5      accept.

       6             Our experiences, the reports from our

       7      community partners, and the available research show

       8      that farm labor is a precarious place for minors,

       9      and that many of the young people working on farms

      10      in New York State, and living with adult men in

      11      farm-labor housing, have little recourse or safer

      12      alternatives in order to generate funds for their

      13      families.

      14             In the long term, this tension will continue

      15      until work on New York State farms is sufficiently

      16      desirable, professionalized, to attract an all-adult

      17      workforce.

      18             In the short run what this means, is that the

      19      lives and futures of numerous young people living

      20      with few or no family members are tied to employers

      21      who control virtually every aspect of their lives.

      22             Even for the young people who are living and

      23      working alongside adult family members or parental

      24      figures, those workers, the people who bring their

      25      children, nephews, nieces, godchildren, onto farms


       1      to work alongside them are faced often with very

       2      difficult choices, and must balance their own

       3      significant financial needs against the unique needs

       4      of children and child workers.

       5             In my written testimony, I laid out the

       6      individual stories of three child workers, two who

       7      were my clinic's clients, and one of whom was

       8      interviewed by a researcher.

       9             They showed that when an employer assumes a

      10      protective role, the child's life chances advance

      11      even while still serving as a productive member of

      12      the workforce.

      13             But when an employer does not assume that

      14      role, the child bounces around from job to job and

      15      does not develop as they otherwise could.

      16             To tie this back to the Farmworkers Fair

      17      Labor Practices Act, the legislation under

      18      consideration gives more voice, and the potential

      19      for farmworkers to develop their own protections for

      20      the children and youth on farms.  They're aware of

      21      their existence and they know best how to take care

      22      of them.

      23             These are children who lack the ability or

      24      experience to negotiate on their own.

      25             In the end, this legislation will improve the


       1      life chances for young workers in settings where

       2      employers are not assuming this protective role.

       3             I thank you for your attention.

       4             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

       5             Senator Mayer.

       6             SENATOR MAYER:  Thank you for your testimony.

       7             Would the clients that you get through your

       8      program, young people, perhaps undocumented, working

       9      on a farm, what is the preferred outcome, from your

      10      perspective; what is it that you are trying to

      11      achieve for them?

      12             And are you successful?

      13             BETH LYON:  The reason why anyone would

      14      surface the fact that there is a child working on a

      15      farm is because there is an issue, there's a crisis.

      16             And, typically, the reason why I'm called in

      17      is because the child is in deportation proceedings

      18      and removal proceedings, usually in the Buffalo

      19      Immigration Court.

      20             So what the community providers have asked my

      21      students and I to learn to do, is to take the

      22      children through a process, which is a very

      23      time-consuming and sensitive process, of getting a

      24      protection order from the local family or

      25      surrogate's court, walking the protection order into


       1      the department of homeland security to get a special

       2      immigrant juvenile visa status for them, and then

       3      terminating their removal proceedings in the

       4      immigration court.

       5             So these are children who have been

       6      identified by immigration as people who are targeted

       7      for deportation.

       8             So children who are working undocumented, but

       9      are not actively in deportation, are much more

      10      likely to surface themselves or to bring themselves

      11      to our attention.

      12             SENATOR MAYER:  So just to clarify, those

      13      children are no longer working?

      14             They are subject to deportation hearings?

      15             They're in the custody of ICE or some other

      16      federal agency at the time they come to your

      17      attention?

      18             BETH LYON:  No, these are children who have

      19      been identified in crossing the border.  They've

      20      been held in detention.

      21             We've seen the conditions, and the family

      22      separation, and the other issues at the border.

      23             They are released to family members, and wind

      24      up working on farms all over the country, but

      25      including Upstate New York.


       1             So in that moment, they are working, often

       2      full-time.  Sometimes they're able to go to school,

       3      again, depending on the attitude of the particular

       4      employer.  But also under pressure of removal

       5      proceedings at the same time.

       6             So we're brought in to help them maintain

       7      stability and stop their removal proceedings.

       8             SENATOR MAYER:  Okay.

       9             Thank you.

      10             SENATOR METZGER:  Could I ask, so, it's

      11      already illegal to hire child labor.

      12             So how would this bill impact this issue?

      13             BETH LYON:  The way that the bill would

      14      support these children is that workers know who the

      15      children are that are on the farm.  They know what's

      16      going on.

      17             These are children who are living in

      18      farm-labor housing with many unrelated men.  There

      19      are safety issues for them.

      20             And the adults who care for them can try to

      21      make sure that certain things happen.

      22             Maybe they get migrant education to tutor

      23      them.

      24             Maybe they actually get to go to school, and

      25      they work shifts that are around school.


       1             And maybe they have a safer living situation.

       2             My students, as I mentioned in my written

       3      testimony, are often going out to farms, and we

       4      become locksmiths.

       5             We're putting locks on the doors of

       6      children's rooms so that they're safe at night.

       7             And then we can show the family court system

       8      that this is a child who is in a safe setting in

       9      order to continue the process for them.

      10             SENATOR METZGER:  I'd just -- I would like to

      11      point out that we -- there's a great program,

      12      ABCD Schools in New York, a program in New York that

      13      we funded, but that needs a lot more support.

      14             SENATOR JACKSON:  Quick question.

      15             These young children that are working in

      16      order to earn money, some of them may be with an

      17      uncle or a relative at a farm, how are they paid?

      18             Do they pay, for example, the child, or do

      19      they pay the uncle for whatever the child's wages

      20      are, if you know?

      21             And I'm going to ask that question also for

      22      farmers.

      23             So, just, somebody tell me.

      24             BETH LYON:  Well, my experience here in

      25      New York State is three years.


       1             But, in my experience, most of my clients

       2      don't have anyone on the farm who is living with

       3      them in a parental role, and they're just paid as

       4      workers.

       5             SENATOR JACKSON:  They're paid in cash or by

       6      check, or what?

       7             BETH LYON:  It's a mix.

       8             SENATOR JACKSON:  Excuse me?

       9             BETH LYON:  It's a mix of cash and check.

      10             SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay.

      11             BETH LYON:  Uhm -- yeah.

      12             SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay.

      13             BETH LYON:  And to be clear, most of the

      14      people that I'm encountering, that my community

      15      partners are encountering, they're more in the

      16      14- to 18- to 19-year-old range.

      17             Here in New York State, and other states,

      18      I have encountered children who are younger than 14.

      19             Thus far in my experience I have not

      20      encountered any children under 14.

      21             SENATOR JACKSON:  They have not -- I'm sorry,

      22      say that again?

      23             BETH LYON:  I have not encountered children

      24      under 14 --

      25             SENATOR JACKSON:  Under 14.


       1             BETH LYON:  -- thus far in my experience.

       2             Although, the GAO data does suggest that, in

       3      the eastern United States, that 7 percent of the

       4      children working, at least on the crop side, are

       5      under 13.

       6             SENATOR METZGER:  So just to --

       7             SENATOR JACKSON:  But you have not -- between

       8      14 and 18 are the ages that you have seen in this

       9      area here --

      10             BETH LYON:  Yes.

      11             SENATOR JACKSON:  -- in New York State?

      12             BETH LYON:  Yes, Senator.

      13             SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay.  Thank you.

      14             SENATOR METZGER:  I just -- so -- but just to

      15      clarify, in your testimony, there isn't any data

      16      on -- existing data on New York on underage hiring

      17      practices?

      18             BETH LYON:  No, at this point, the GAO is

      19      able to break out the northeast.  That's -- or, the

      20      eastern region is the region that it has broken out,

      21      which is why I came with, essentially, the anecdotal

      22      data from myself and from the many agencies that

      23      refer cases to me, to share that these children are

      24      out there.

      25             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay.  Thank you.


       1             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Thank you.

       2             BETH LYON:  Thank you.

       3             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next is Julie Patterson,

       4      followed by Joseph Morgiewicz.

       5             And if Ken Migliorelli could come up.

       6             JULIE PATTERSON:  Good afternoon, Senators.

       7             I appreciate your time today.

       8             Yes, I'm challenged, height-wise.

       9             SENATOR JACKSON:  (Inaudible) in the back,

      10      they need hear you.

      11             JULIE PATTERSON:  Sure, thank you.

      12             Everybody can hear me okay now?

      13             I appreciate the opportunity to speak today.

      14             My name is Julie Patterson.

      15             Together with my husband, John, and our three

      16      children, we farm in Auburn, New York, in

      17      Cayuga County.

      18             We are a sixth-generation family farm.

      19             Personally, though, I am a first-generation

      20      farmer.

      21             John and I married 24 years ago, and at that

      22      time, the farm was managed by his mother, Connie, a

      23      single mother to four children.

      24             Connie was also a high school business

      25      teacher, and worked long after the school day ended


       1      on the farm to ensure the opportunity for the

       2      sixth-generation to continue farming.

       3             We learned to work hard, be good stewards of

       4      the land, and have empathy for all people, but most

       5      importantly, our employees who work with us every

       6      day.

       7             Our team is proud of the work that they do.

       8             They enjoy their work, and they don't farm --

       9      you don't farm unless you enjoy the work you do

      10      every day, because it's hard.

      11             If somebody has a better opportunity, they

      12      can leave.  And we've had several employees that

      13      have left, and come back, after pursuing other

      14      options.

      15             Today we employ 20 full-time people,

      16      6 part-time, and 10 additional employees during the

      17      cropping season.

      18             Our employees range in service of years

      19      between 1 and 38 years.

      20             Together, our team -- our team, we milk

      21      1500 cows and crop 2500 acres of land.

      22             Our average worker salary is $50,250 per

      23      year, well above the median household income of our

      24      area of $40,700.

      25             Although New York State law only allows us to


       1      charge $5 each day for housing, which we don't

       2      charge, we provide housing to our employees -- 13 of

       3      our employees.

       4             We pay for the utilities, give our employees

       5      paid vacation, retirement plan, bonuses, pay

       6      workmen's (sic) compensation, unemployment

       7      insurance, time and a half for four major holidays,

       8      monthly payments towards health insurance, and

       9      weekly time off.

      10             At the time of hire, our employees receive

      11      safety training in English and Spanish, depending on

      12      what language they speak, and, sexual harassment

      13      training, also in English and Spanish.  And that's

      14      annually they have to receive those trainings.

      15             We participate in the farm program, which is

      16      the farmers assuring responsible management.

      17             This newest initiative of the farm program

      18      provides guidance and best management practices for

      19      human-resource management, which we follow these

      20      practices.

      21             Our milk cooperative, who we sell our milk

      22      to, has a representative come to our farm to do

      23      quarterly audits of our employee housing and

      24      workplace to ensure safe work environment and

      25      housing standards.


       1             We also grow and develop our employees

       2      through professional training initiatives and

       3      workshops.

       4             At time of hire, our employees also have to

       5      sign a worker agreement.  Laid out in that agreement

       6      is their hourly wage, their days off, what benefits

       7      they're entitled to.

       8             They sign that work agreement.  That's in

       9      Spanish and English.

      10             Our responsibilities as employers of choice

      11      extend well beyond the typical employer-employee

      12      relationship.

      13             I have taken the employees to necessary

      14      appointments.

      15             I have taken them to the hospital when they

      16      are in labor.

      17             In rare times of injury, John or I take the

      18      employees to the hospital and comfort them, never

      19      leaving their side until they are released.

      20             We have cared for their children.

      21             None of this is being said because I'm

      22      looking for accolades, but it is being said because

      23      we treat the people who work with us every day like

      24      they are part of our family.

      25             You have heard it before, many farms are


       1      struggling, but we do invite you all to visit our

       2      farms and gather facts instead of trying to decipher

       3      what testimony to believe.

       4             Bottom line:  Farms of all sizes, not just

       5      small farms and medium-size farms, are struggling.

       6             And I've included budgets in my written

       7      testimony so you can see there's -- it doesn't

       8      really -- it's not just small farms, it's large

       9      farms.

      10             And the majority of farms provide competitive

      11      wages, offer benefits, and good quality of life that

      12      many do not understand.

      13             "We," meaning all industries, need your help

      14      to better integrate the 4.5 million immigrants that

      15      reside in New York State.

      16             We need your help at providing funding for

      17      more programs to educate foreign workers on this

      18      country's cultures, access to public services.

      19             People coming here from less-developed

      20      countries do not know our laws.

      21             They don't know that 911 is just a phone call

      22      away and they won't be discriminated against when

      23      they call.

      24             What they do know is, they are leaving a

      25      corrupt environment where the gross national income


       1      is $2,740 per year, to take advantage of

       2      opportunities for them to provide for their families

       3      with quality, well-paying jobs, in turn, providing

       4      New York State families with affordable, safe,

       5      nutritious food.

       6             Again, enough laws exist to protect those who

       7      are here in this country.

       8             What we do need is immigration reform so

       9      people don't feel they need to live in the shadows.

      10             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you so much for your

      11      testimony.

      12             JULIE PATTERSON:  Thank you.

      13             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next is Joseph Morgiewicz

      14      followed by Ken Migliorelli.

      15             And if Kira Kinney could please come up.

      16             JOSEPH MORGIEWICZ:  Good afternoon, all.

      17             And I'd like to thank all of the Senators

      18      here today, and those who have left;

      19      Senator Harckham; Senator Jackson; Metzger; Ramos,

      20      who is someplace in the area; Senator Liu;

      21      Senator Savino, and, I'm sorry, I did not catch the

      22      last.

      23             SENATOR MAYER:  Mayer.

      24             SENATOR JACKSON:  Mayer.

      25             Mayer.


       1             My name is Joseph Morgiewicz, and together

       2      with my mom and brothers, we operate 170-acre mixed

       3      produce farm in Orange County in the "Black Dirt

       4      Region" in the Lower Hudson Valley.

       5             We are a fourth-generation farm, and my two

       6      sons and niece are staged and ready to become the

       7      fifth generation to operate our business; that is,

       8      if there is a business left to operate in the next

       9      few years.

      10             This legislation will be pivotal in that

      11      decision.

      12             I'm also speaking as the chairman of the

      13      Farmer Community Advisory Committee of GrowNYC,

      14      which I'm sure that all of the downstate

      15      representatives are familiar with.

      16             We are a volunteer, elected committee made up

      17      of producers, community members, city dwellers, and

      18      GrowNYC staff, and we're tasked with ensuring that

      19      the green markets in New York City are vibrant,

      20      fair, and integral parts of the communities they

      21      serve by providing the freshest produce that our

      22      consumers -- customers can buy at the best price.

      23              Our customers, your constituents, demand it.

      24             Many of the green markets in your districts

      25      will be severely affected if and when this bill is


       1      passed.

       2             I'm already aware of several farms that are

       3      dropping some of the markets they attend because of

       4      already high costs that takes -- that it takes to

       5      produce our crops.

       6             We will not be able to survive in those

       7      markets and compete with our neighbors from

       8      New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

       9             I struggled with what I was going to say in

      10      this testimony today.

      11             You have my written testimony.

      12             And I've also heard repeatedly the stories of

      13      many farmers and employees, so I wanted to try and

      14      say something different.

      15             This issue is complex, and I don't know where

      16      to begin or which issue is the most important or

      17      more important than the other.

      18             There's a butterfly effect to this bill that

      19      will take another generation to be realized, so what

      20      good was four minutes going to do?

      21             I'd like to focus my comments more on the

      22      statements from previous hearings.

      23             In opening statements made at the

      24      April 26th hearing, it was mentioned how the

      25      manufacturing industry has the type of protections


       1      that this bill offers in place, and has had for many

       2      years.

       3             That it was the duty of the elected officials

       4      to figure out how to mesh the guidelines that the

       5      manufacturing industry uses with the agricultural

       6      industry.

       7             My question is, how, and why?

       8             They're very different from each other and

       9      have different needs.

      10             We are not even the same as California

      11      agriculture, but yet they are used as the example to

      12      follow.

      13             We have, at best, six months of good weather

      14      to grow and harvest a crop.

      15             They have eight to ten.

      16             Ask a farmer in California how they are

      17      dealing with overtime since it has been implemented.

      18             When was the last time you heard of a factory

      19      losing its entire income in a 15-minute hailstorm,

      20      or a company like Benjamin Moore losing the

      21      materials used to make paint because it rotted in

      22      the back?

      23             We produce a life-giving, highly perishable

      24      commodity.

      25             You have all had vegetables rot in your


       1      refrigerator because you didn't use them in time, or

       2      had the melon on the counter ripen faster than you

       3      expected it to, and I'm sure that you were ticked at

       4      the fact that you spent good money on something you

       5      couldn't use.

       6             Imagine that that $2.00 you spent on that

       7      melon or a bunch of cilantro is actually $200,000

       8      that you had invested in an entire farm, and the

       9      hailstorm with ice the size of marbles cuts it down

      10      in a matter of seconds.

      11             That scenario has happened to every farmer at

      12      some time in their careers, and it will happen

      13      again, I guarantee it.

      14             And guess what?

      15             Most of us brush it off, we figure out how to

      16      do it again, because we know that our job is a

      17      higher calling.

      18             In 2011 "Hurricane Irene" hit our valley in

      19      late August.

      20             We had just begun harvesting many of our main

      21      cash crops.  It was late season because of the

      22      weather earlier.

      23             The nearly $400,000 that we, my farm, had

      24      invested in manhours, seed, fuel, chemical,

      25      fertilizer, and packing supplies sat under 10 feet


       1      of water for almost a month.

       2             Eight years later we're still paying for

       3      that.

       4             Fall of 2018 saw devastating losses again for

       5      area farmers because of the excess rain.

       6             Many of the fall crops never made to it

       7      harvest because of too much rain.

       8             Crops that were ready to be harvested before

       9      the rain could not be harvested and rotted in the

      10      field.

      11             The result, again, expense and no income.

      12             These are not made-up stories to try and gain

      13      sympathy, but they are the realities of farming in

      14      the northeast and in New York where it costs more to

      15      grow a crop.

      16             As farmers, we don't expect anyone else to

      17      understand this.

      18             My wife grew up in Southern California with

      19      parents who had, pretty much, 9-to-5 jobs.

      20             We have been married 25 years, and she still

      21      can't understand why or how we do what we do, or why

      22      my kids want to follow me.

      23             We don't expect elected officials who have

      24      the power to put us out of business with this bill

      25      to understand, or the advocates who state that this


       1      is a civil and moral issue, and that it's not about

       2      the money, but the money will make all the bad

       3      things go away.

       4             Another testimony given by a labor advocate

       5      or economist of some sort truly believes that a farm

       6      can be run as 8-to-5 like any other business, and

       7      can't understand how we have not figured that out

       8      yet.

       9             I wonder if he's interested in buying a

      10      170-acre farm in Orange County because I'd like to

      11      give him my contact info.

      12             In another testimony, the speaker

      13      congratulated farmers for being entrepreneurs and

      14      savvy business people, and that we would figure this

      15      out and survive.

      16             We have survived for 40 -- four generations,

      17      but when do we get to prosper also?

      18             In agriculture, it's a morbid fact that we

      19      silently hope for another area to have a bad season

      20      so that we can have a good one, and then the tables

      21      turn.

      22             The fact that many advocates for this

      23      legislation would have you believe that most farmers

      24      are prospering on the backs of our employees and

      25      that we exploit them for our own gain is infuriating


       1      and makes the issues personal for me.

       2             My employees make more per hour for the time

       3      they work than I do, and believe me, I wish I could

       4      pay them more.

       5             We believe in the sanctity of human life and

       6      that every person deserves to be treated with

       7      dignity and respect, and we do.

       8             There are bad actors in every industry and

       9      profession, politics and religious orders included.

      10             SENATOR METZGER:  I'm sorry, (inaudible).

      11             JOSEPH MORGIEWICZ:  The perpetrators --

      12             SENATOR METZGER:  I'm sorry, you need to

      13      (inaudible).

      14             JOSEPH MORGIEWICZ:  In closing:

      15             This legislation is bad for everyone; there

      16      are no winners.

      17             There's a reason why in the last 20 years

      18      this bill fails to pass.

      19             It would do more to destroy agriculture in

      20      New York than it would do good.

      21             Most of the portion of this bill is fluff,

      22      and in my opinion, because we're already doing those

      23      things.

      24             The right to collective bargaining would be

      25      worked with some tweaks.


       1             Overtime, as it is written, though, has no

       2      place in New York agriculture.

       3             So I want to ask you all, where do you want

       4      your food to come from?

       5             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

       6             Does anyone have any questions?

       7             SENATOR SAVINO:  In his testimony -- you

       8      didn't mention it, but in your testimony you

       9      actually have some suggestions for things that we

      10      can do to help the farming industry.

      11             I just want thank you for that.

      12             SENATOR METZGER:  Sir.

      13             JOSEPH MORGIEWICZ:  All of those were

      14      things -- would be things that would need to be

      15      worked out.

      16             SENATOR SAVINO:  Obviously.

      17             JOSEPH MORGIEWICZ:  And I am not the person

      18      to go to for that.

      19             I'm speaking with two hats.

      20             In my farm, at this point in time, overtime

      21      would not work for me.

      22             Speaking on behalf of the members in the

      23      FCAC, which is an entire group of 200 farmers, a lot

      24      of them could work with 60 hours, but, it will be

      25      devastating.


       1             My payroll went up $50,000 alone last year.

       2             Adding overtime to that would increase it by

       3      another $80,000, just on the hours put in last year,

       4      which was not a typical year.

       5             SENATOR RAMOS:  That's assuming the 40 or the

       6      60?

       7             JOSEPH MORGIEWICZ:  That's at the 40, because

       8      that's what is discussed.

       9             Even at 60, it's still a crawl.

      10             I lost over $200,000 on my farm.

      11             The losses last year would have been close

      12      $100,000 on my farm, just in crops alone and the

      13      manhours that I had.

      14             Recoup, or try to put on, another $80,000, if

      15      that bill were in place last year, would not have

      16      been possible.

      17             And I still don't know if it would be

      18      possible this year because I'm still recouping from

      19      the costs last year.  I lost last year.

      20             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much,

      21      appreciate your testimony.

      22             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Thank you.

      23             Ken Migliorelli is up next, followed by

      24      Kira Kinney.

      25             And Maritza Owens, if you could come up.


       1             And just to remind everybody to please keep

       2      your eye on the clock.

       3             We are already going over, and we want to

       4      make sure everybody has time to testify.

       5             Thank you.

       6             KEN MIGLIORELLI:  Hi.

       7             Good afternoon, Senators.

       8             My name is Ken Migliorelli.  I'm the current

       9      owner of Migliorelli Farm, LLC.

      10             My family and I have been farming for almost

      11      a century in New York State.

      12             Our farm began in The Bronx in the late

      13      '20s, and is currently located in Reddick,

      14      New York, which is in northern Dutchess County.

      15             We currently farm approximately 1,000 acres

      16      of fruits, vegetables, grain, and hay.

      17             We direct-market through farmers' market,

      18      roadside stands, and wholesale accounts.

      19             During peak season, which is May to November,

      20      we employ 70 to 80 employees.

      21             I'm wanting to discuss the farmworker bill

      22      proposed by you, Senators.

      23             There's a part of this bill which we have

      24      little or no effect -- it would have little or no

      25      effect on my farm operation.


       1             Other portions would be extremely detrimental

       2      to the survival of not only our operation, but to

       3      other agricultural entities, such as dairy,

       4      livestock, poultry, greenhouse production,

       5      et cetera.

       6             We have been and have always provided the

       7      following:

       8             One day off a week;

       9             Workmen's (sic) comp;

      10             Unemployment insurance, which is an issue.

      11             Now that we're in the H-2A program, they

      12      can't benefit from unemployment, so it would be nice

      13      to have that eliminated;

      14             Available housing with proper sanitation

      15      conditions.  And it's checked monthly by the

      16      Dutchess County Health Department.

      17             The part of the bill that I'm concerned

      18      about, collective bargaining.

      19             I guess I've been doing collective bargaining

      20      for years.

      21             I talk to my employees, I find out their

      22      issues, and I make changes.

      23             Probably 20 percent of my employees have

      24      families, wives and children.  So there's school

      25      events, so we work things out.  And, you know,


       1      sometimes they need off certain parts of the week.

       2             And, so -- but it's the labor strikes that

       3      I'm concerned about.

       4             You know, during peak season, you know,

       5      I can't afford to not have a workforce.

       6             But the biggest thing, as you heard, is the

       7      time and a half.

       8             I feel it should be eliminated.

       9             This would be the most detrimental action

      10      brought against agriculture in decades.

      11             Agriculture is currently running at such a

      12      tight profit margin, and this action would put the

      13      nail in the coffin for many farmers.

      14             Agriculture is not like any other industry or

      15      business.

      16             We are dependent on many facets that control

      17      our profitability:  Insects.  Disease.  Weather.

      18      Market share, which is changing.

      19             Senator?

      20             I'd like your attention.

      21             Thank you.

      22             My production crew, during peak season, takes

      23      home $800 to $1,000 a week, and they don't have to

      24      pay for rent, and they don't have to pay for

      25      utilities.


       1             Now, I feel that's a pretty fair wage.

       2             So -- and this year we have to pay, you

       3      heard, 13.25.  That will come out to $19.88 over the

       4      40 hours.

       5             It's not happening, not here.

       6             And I don't have the capacity to put on

       7      another 30 or 40 employees to keep it at 40 hours.

       8             So I'm going to -- we have already made

       9      changes, but I will be, if this gets passed, laying

      10      off 70 to 80 percent of my employees.

      11             I'm looking -- we're looking to cut back on

      12      fruits and vegetable production because it's such

      13      high inputs go into that, and just do more grain and

      14      hay.

      15             But what concerns me more is, you're making a

      16      law that, how many of you sitting at this table have

      17      ever been in business for yourself?

      18             SENATOR METZGER:  Not me.

      19             KEN MIGLIORELLI:  Nobody?

      20             Nobody at this table's never been in

      21      business.

      22             So you don't know what it is to wake up every

      23      day and worry about the bottom line.

      24             You know, so it's -- you know --

      25                (Audience member claps.)


       1             KEN MIGLIORELLI:  Thank you.

       2             -- it's just, you know, when you wake up at

       3      3:00 in morning because an alarm goes off, because

       4      the greenhouse heat is down, and you got to get

       5      there because, you know, you'll lose the whole --

       6      you know, you're whole tomato crop or peppers or

       7      eggplant in one night.

       8             So, you know, you're making laws that, you

       9      know, you don't know.

      10             You may think you know what it is to be in

      11      business, but until you're living it every day, and

      12      wake up every morning worrying about the bottom

      13      line.

      14             So...

      15                [Applause.]

      16             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      17             Does anyone have any questions?

      18             Diane -- or, Senator Savino.

      19             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you for your

      20      testimony.

      21             You said that you employ about 70 to

      22      80 employees.

      23             How many of them are H-2A?

      24             KEN MIGLIORELLI:  Half.

      25             SENATOR SAVINO:  Half of them.


       1             And so because there's no exemption on the

       2      requirement of overtime -- of unemployment insurance

       3      coverage, what does that cost you, just you, on

       4      average, every year?

       5             KEN MIGLIORELLI:  Well, it's, I think

       6      unemployment runs, I want to say, 8 to 9 percent.

       7             SENATOR SAVINO:  And these are workers who

       8      could never qualify to --

       9             KEN MIGLIORELLI:  No.

      10             SENATOR SAVINO:  -- collect it, those

      11      particular workers?

      12             KEN MIGLIORELLI:  Correct.

      13             And we have to pay for their travel in and

      14      out of the country.

      15             I mean, they're going home with a chunk of

      16      money at the end of the year.

      17             I mean, just like it was stated before, you

      18      know, they're sending home money to buy farms, to,

      19      you know, put their kids through school.

      20             You know, you said that this was a

      21      responsible bill.

      22             I think that part is irresponsible.

      23             SENATOR RAMOS:  I said that we would pass the

      24      bill in a responsible and fiscally-prudent way.

      25             KEN MIGLIORELLI:  Well, if you allow time and


       1      a half, that's irresponsible.

       2             SENATOR RAMOS:  Okay.

       3             Thank you opinion.

       4             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

       5             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you; thank you for

       6      your testimony.

       7             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Kira Kinney, followed by

       8      Mr. Maritza Owens.

       9             And if Mark Doyle could please come up.

      10             KIRA KINNEY:  Thank you for having us, and,

      11      truly, I hope you're listening, because there's a

      12      lot that's really riding on this, and I'm not sure

      13      that I get that you get it.

      14             Like, I have these stress reactions.

      15             One, I cry.

      16             One, I yawn.

      17             Or, two, like, I basically run away.

      18             So, I'm sorry, but, trying, I'm trying.

      19             So I want to also extend my sincerest

      20      gratitude to Senator Montgomery, who was at

      21      Morrisville, because when she stated in her closing

      22      remarks, that she grew up in the south, and that

      23      she's seen Jim Crow, and this is no Jim Crow, what

      24      she's seeing and hearing from us.

      25             Like, it means a lot to me, because farmers,


       1      in the media and through the advocacy testimonies,

       2      like, we're terribly maligned as exploiters of other

       3      human beings, and it's said that it's basically

       4      common and accepted practice.

       5             Which is entirely false.

       6             Like, the statement that farmworkers are

       7      afraid to speak out, mine were afraid to speak out

       8      because, as immigrants, to stand in front of you,

       9      the government, who has supreme authority, in

      10      reality, over their being or not being here, was the

      11      fright.

      12             We have talked about this legislation.

      13             I actually had someone help me translate it

      14      to Spanish, the main provisions.

      15             I gave it to them on Easter Sunday.  Said, if

      16      you have time, we need to talk about this tomorrow,

      17      so please read it up.

      18             Our water cooler is behind the market trucks

      19      that are parked in the driveway.

      20             So we meet up there in the morning to decide

      21      what we're doing.

      22             We had to do that first, talk about this.

      23             We go over it step by step.

      24             Pedio (ph.) is off to my left, and he says,

      25      Kira, can't we just go chueco?


       1             Which is "crooked," "outside of the law," if

       2      you pass it.

       3             I said, Pedio, we can't do that.  You know

       4      the inspectors come here every year.

       5             You know, like, my heart swells because he's,

       6      like, let's keep it the same and do what we're doing

       7      because it's a good and decent thing.

       8             But at the same time, it breaks, because

       9      I can't come up with 22,440 extra dollars to pay

      10      them, and each of them is going to lose $9,010 over

      11      the season.

      12             Like, their hours have to be capped.

      13             My farmers' market is in Brooklyn, New York.

      14      I sell next to producers.

      15             Like I actually paced out the market this

      16      past Saturday.

      17             24 1/2 farm spaces --

      18             I take keep the bakers and the fishermen, and

      19      whatever, because they don't have the same rules.

      20             -- 24 1/2 are New York State ag producers.

      21             20 -- I think it was 20 were farms from

      22      New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

      23             That's who I have to compete against to come

      24      up with that $22,000 to pay them.

      25             You know, yesterday we're talking about this,


       1      I say, Here's the plan for tomorrow.  I have to go

       2      do this thing.

       3             Blass (ph.) tells me, "Tell them to leave us

       4      alone."

       5             I'm, like, Okay, Blass.

       6             Blass is 55 years old, the most decent, like

       7      quiet, respectful person, and he's telling me to

       8      tell you, "to leave us alone."

       9             And I'm, like -- I'm really at a loss.

      10             There's a lot in this testimony that isn't

      11      even anything I'm telling you.

      12             And I just would rather, if you have

      13      questions, ask them.

      14             I'm dead honest.

      15             I mean --

      16             SENATOR METZGER:  She is.

      17                [Laughter.]

      18             KIRA KINNEY:  I don't cry.

      19             SENATOR JACKSON:  So I thank you for your

      20      testimony, and from your experience in talking to

      21      the workers that work for you.

      22             I say to you that, I believe you, that your

      23      relationship with your workers are what you say it

      24      is, and in the way you treat them.

      25             But I do know that, as an employer, some


       1      people will not say certain things to their

       2      employer, and especially those individuals that are

       3      most vulnerable.

       4             I know that.

       5             I'm an employer myself as a state Senator.

       6             I employ, through the system, about

       7      11 employees.

       8             And they will talk to me about certain

       9      things, but I know other things they won't, they

      10      just won't, because I'm the employer.

      11             KIRA KINNEY:  Right?

      12             SENATOR JACKSON:  So I just say to you, with

      13      all due respect, I do understand, and I -- based on

      14      your communication here today, I truly believe you.

      15             But I do know that employees that are very

      16      vulnerable may not say anything and just go along in

      17      order to do what they have to do, in order to, the

      18      bottom line, is to get the money so that they can do

      19      what they need to do wherever they live, and

      20      I understand that.

      21             KIRA KINNEY:  I got that.

      22             SENATOR JACKSON:  I think that that's why --

      23             KIRA KINNEY:  Do you realize, though, that,

      24      in New York State, like, the department of labor has

      25      the division of immigrant policies and affairs with


       1      ag-labor specialists?

       2             It's the only part of the department of labor

       3      with a specific unit working for a specific

       4      population.  And they're out in the field doing the

       5      inspections.

       6             And that, from all of us who are doing right,

       7      we would much prefer you increase the funding to

       8      have the inspections go up and bring the others in

       9      line.

      10             This legislation will do nothing to bring

      11      anybody who isn't doing right to do right.

      12             They might end up doing more wrong.

      13             SENATOR JACKSON:  And I think that that's why

      14      the hearings are being held --

      15             KIRA KINNEY:  Right.

      16             SENATOR JACKSON:  -- so we can hear from

      17      farmers and workers, and try to bring together

      18      something, as I said earlier when I spoke, I don't

      19      want to see any farmer go out of business.

      20             I don't -- and I want to see employees earn

      21      the money that they need in order to take home to

      22      their families.

      23             So we're looking for a solution, and

      24      everything that people are saying is being taken

      25      under consideration.


       1             KIRA KINNEY:  Sure.

       2             In the back of my testimony there's a

       3      compromise that you can see.

       4             SENATOR JACKSON:  Thank you.

       5             KIRA KINNEY:  Uh-huh.

       6             SENATOR METZGER:  Any other questions?

       7             SENATOR MAYER:  I'm sorry I missed your

       8      testimony in Morrisville.

       9             KIRA KINNEY:  No, no, I wasn't there.

      10             I watched it.

      11             SENATOR METZGER:  She watched it.

      12             SENATOR MAYER:  Oh, you watched it.

      13             KIRA KINNEY:  Yeah.

      14             SENATOR MAYER:  Okay.

      15             Oh, you're talking about Senator Montgomery.

      16             Do you have both H-2A and non-H-2A employees?

      17             KIRA KINNEY:  Well, four of my guys that are

      18      on H-2A.  There are five employees.  One is from

      19      Mexico, also, and travels back and forth.

      20             He's on the same wage base as the H-2A.

      21      Like, you have to treat everybody the same unless

      22      they're doing separate jobs.

      23             SENATOR MAYER:  And during a harvest season,

      24      or peak harvest season, approximately how many hours

      25      do these folks work?


       1             KIRA KINNEY:  We'll work, like, in July,

       2      August, September, around 70.

       3             I work a bit more because I do the farmers'

       4      market, so that one day alone for me is 18.

       5             SENATOR MAYER:  Right.

       6             Do they have their one day off?

       7             KIRA KINNEY:  Yep, we take Sundays off.

       8             I mean, last -- no -- well, this past week on

       9      Sunday, I had to go knock on their door and ask a

      10      couple guys to come help me cover up the

      11      strawberries because a frost was coming.

      12             But, in general, nobody works on Sunday.

      13             I mean, we've had other weird weather things.

      14       That's really the only thing that would make us

      15      have to do a Sunday.

      16             SENATOR MAYER:  Okay.

      17             KIRA KINNEY:  I mean, they have the option.

      18             And sometimes I'll catch somebody out

      19      weed-whacking around the pond because they want to

      20      go fishing, but, I'll just pay them for it.

      21             SENATOR MAYER:  Okay.  Thank you.

      22             KIRA KINNEY:  Uh-huh.

      23             Anything else?

      24             SENATOR METZGER:  Thanks so much, Kira.

      25             KIRA KINNEY:  Sure.


       1             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next is Maritza Owens,

       2      followed by Mark Doyle.

       3             And if Mark Rogowski could come up, please.

       4             MARITZA OWENS:  Good afternoon.

       5             Thank you so much for this opportunity.

       6             I'm way out of my wheelhouse, but I'll do my

       7      best.

       8             I am the founder and CEO of Harvest

       9      Home Farmers' Market, a non-profit organization in

      10      New York City.

      11             Since 1993 we have operated farmers' markets

      12      in low-income neighborhoods.

      13             Our mission was driven by my determination to

      14      provide low-income neighborhoods with access to

      15      farm-fresh local produce and the education to

      16      achieve healthier lifestyles.

      17             Our markets are located in neighborhoods

      18      where there are minimal -- where there's minimal

      19      access to fresh fruits and vegetables.  On average,

      20      there are 18 to 25 bodegas for every supermarket in

      21      these neighborhoods.

      22             I am here today not to testify against the

      23      bill, but to share another often obscured point of

      24      view that I hope will help to round out the

      25      discussion and impact the decision-making.


       1             We always say that there are two sides to

       2      every story; however, in this case, I think that

       3      there are three sides: the farmworkers, the farmers,

       4      and the consumers.

       5             Since the early 1900s, we are all aware that

       6      laws and policies have supported and perpetuated a

       7      farming economy built on the backs of people of

       8      color who are socially marginalized, primarily

       9      racially-oppressed immigrants from the Caribbean,

      10      Mexico, and Central America.

      11             These policies have excluded farmworkers from

      12      fundamental federal and state labor protections

      13      across the country and in New York State.

      14             As an immigrant, yes, I am also an immigrant,

      15      born in Cuba, and my parents migrated to the

      16      United States in 1971.

      17             A minority and a target of discrimination,

      18      I clearly understand the need for better wages, and

      19      strongly believe that this bill is long overdue.

      20             However, for the farmers, farmers like

      21      Morgiewicz produce, Migliorelli, R&G, and many of

      22      the farmers that come to our markets and work with

      23      operators like Harvest Home and GrowNYC, they rely

      24      on -- we rely on these small and mid-scale family

      25      farms for fruits and vegetables.


       1             These farms produce 49 types of fruits and

       2      vegetables considered specialty crops.

       3             Go figure, the notion that nourishing food is

       4      considered a specialty crop.

       5             These farms have narrow profit margins and

       6      limited ability to influence the market for their

       7      products.

       8             Hired farm labor represents a significant

       9      amount of their operational costs.

      10             In order to keep costs down, family members

      11      provide much of the labor, working side by side with

      12      hired farmworkers.

      13             For the consumer, New Yorkers are

      14      increasingly struggling with food insecurity and are

      15      falling farther and farther behind.

      16             The WIC FMNP program connects over

      17      1.5 million low-income families to

      18      17,000 independent farmers, and provides 67 million

      19      servings of fruits and vegetables annually to

      20      low-income pregnant women and children, produce that

      21      otherwise would not have been put on their tables.

      22             If costs increase and farmers go out

      23      business, already food-insecure families will fall

      24      far behind.

      25             Since 2009, federal, state, and local


       1      organizations, both government and philanthropic,

       2      have invested millions, if not trillions of dollars

       3      to increase access to healthy food as a way to

       4      reduce astronomical medical costs resulting from

       5      nutrition-deficient diets.

       6             Only this week alone, the USDA announced

       7      four grants to support the consumer side.

       8             The FMPP grant from USDA is investing

       9      11.5 million;

      10             The local food promotion is investing

      11      11.5 million;

      12             The new-entry sustainable farmer is investing

      13      4.8 million;

      14             And the nutrition incentive program, which my

      15      organization is a recipient of, is investing

      16      41 million.

      17             That is a total of $68.8 million invested in

      18      consumer access to healthy food products.

      19             But if you notice, for farmers, it was only

      20      4.8.

      21             I'm done?

      22             I'll stop.

      23             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      24             It's a very important perspective to bring.

      25             I wanted to see if any of my colleagues.


       1             Senator Liu.

       2             SENATOR LIU:  I want to thank you for your

       3      testimony, but are you in favor of or against this

       4      bill?

       5             MARITZA OWENS:  I'm in favor of the bill, but

       6      I think that it can't be done in a vacuum.  It needs

       7      to consider all sides.

       8             I think that one of the things that I have

       9      observed over the 25 years that I've been doing

      10      this, is that we've been very good at investing

      11      dollars in the consumer -- on the demand side, but

      12      not on the supply side.

      13             So we get grants for, you know, a lot of

      14      consumer-access programs, but farmers don't have

      15      access to grants.

      16             They get access to tax credits or they get

      17      access to loans.

      18             Most of the farms are already overextended in

      19      debt.

      20             So, how do we balance the equation?

      21             And so that's really why I'm here, because,

      22      if you -- if farms go out of business, all of the

      23      investments that you have made in access to healthy

      24      food; all of the programs that have been started, to

      25      reduce the cost of -- medical costs, we are going


       1      backwards.

       2             So the pendulum is going back to the left if

       3      we don't consider what the impact of this

       4      legislation would not only have on the farmworkers,

       5      the farmers, but also those of us who have to eat.

       6             SENATOR LIU:  You have to eat?

       7             MARITZA OWENS:  Yes, I think we all do, don't

       8      you?

       9             SENATOR LIU:  I do my share.

      10                [Laughter.]

      11             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you so much.

      12             So we're going to hear from two more

      13      speakers, then we're going to take a five-minute

      14      break.

      15             We're just a little over halfway through the

      16      testimony.

      17             Thank you.

      18             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Okay, so next up is

      19      Mark Doyle.

      20             MARK DOYLE:  Senators Ramos, Metzger,

      21      Senators, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much

      22      for the opportunity to speak and provide testimony

      23      on an issue so vitally important to our state.

      24             Quality of life and the food we eat are

      25      inseparable.


       1             I was born in South Africa, and studied

       2      agricultural management before immigrating to the

       3      Hudson Valley 30 years ago, farming since then.

       4             I have or continue to serve on the boards of

       5      Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester farm bureau;

       6      Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation;

       7      Dutchess IDA; Cornell Cooperative Extension; and

       8      have chaired the town of Amenia Comprehensive Plan

       9      Committee.

      10             This is my 12th year working at

      11      Fishkill Farms where we grow about 120 acres of

      12      fruits, berries, and vegetables, and sell to,

      13      roughly, 80,000 Piquant customers and 300 CSA

      14      members.

      15             The heart of our workforce is a group of

      16      11 men on H-2A visas from Jamaica, many whom are in

      17      the 11th year of employment with us, and whose

      18      sons have joined them more recently.

      19             We also employ 16 people year-round, and

      20      during the peak season we employ over 100 people, in

      21      total, many of whom are high-schoolers.

      22             Overtime pay.

      23             The farmers I know support the goal of your

      24      proposed legislation of providing the opportunity

      25      and supportive environment for employees to advance


       1      their careers and lead successful lives.

       2             It makes good business sense.

       3             And that said, I'm extremely concerned that

       4      the proposed overtime rule for our cultural workers

       5      contradicts those goals, for these reasons:

       6             Number one:  Food is a price-elastic

       7      commodity, and we're simply not able to pass

       8      increased business costs along to consumers who are

       9      primarily price-driven, and will choose products

      10      from other states or countries.

      11             And this means that we will have to take

      12      measures to curb labor costs, including constraining

      13      workers' hours to overtime thresholds.

      14             Number two:  It will be necessary to hire

      15      additional part-time employees, adding costs of the

      16      coordination, training, housing, transport, and

      17      productivity.

      18             Number three:  As a result, workers will not

      19      have the opportunity to take sole charge of tasks

      20      and see them through to completion.

      21             They will have to clock out and leave, and

      22      this leads to a cascade of effects:  The loss of

      23      income, the loss of opportunity to show one's

      24      talent, drive, and loyalty; and, therefore, the loss

      25      of career-advancement opportunity.


       1             Advocates of the proposed Farmworker (sic)

       2      Fair Labor Practices Act postulate that farmworkers

       3      have been unfairly and uniquely singled out by this

       4      exemption.

       5             That is not the case.

       6             There are several other categories of exempt

       7      employees, including government interns, for

       8      example.

       9             The New York State Department of Labor

      10      criteria for the eligibility of professional

      11      employees contains key phrases that easily fit

      12      agriculture, but, are limited to the fields of

      13      science and learning, including the professions of

      14      law, medicine, accounting, teaching, as well as

      15      technology and creative arts.

      16             Are we to deduce that these people with the

      17      means and opportunity to study and qualify in

      18      those -- in these fields are the real cream of crop;

      19      ambitious, intelligent, knowledgeable, and decisive?

      20             No.

      21             It seems much more likely that the

      22      legislative rationale for granting this group

      23      exemption from overtime laws was that their hard

      24      work would foster success and they would willingly

      25      work long hours to accomplish their goals.


       1             Farming is the essence of creativity,

       2      science, and the consistent exercise of discretion

       3      and judgment.

       4             Why place a cap on opportunity for

       5      advancement of agricultural workers?

       6             In summary:

       7             Overtime pay will result in unsustainable

       8      expense for -- in a very competitive marketplace,

       9      and create constraints to farmworkers' opportunity

      10      for advancement.

      11             Limited time requires me to end, but if

      12      I may, in my opinion, a balanced policy of

      13      farmworker advancement would also include the right

      14      to individual and collective bargaining for

      15      employees.

      16             If you wouldn't mind, please, look at my

      17      written testimony for the rest of my comments on the

      18      other aspects of this legislation.

      19             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      20             MARK DOYLE:  Thank you.

      21             SENATOR METZGER:  Any questions?

      22             Thank you very much.

      23             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next is Mark Rogowski,

      24      followed by a quick five-minute break.



       1             MARK ROGOWSKI:  Thank you, Senators, for

       2      allowing me to speak.

       3             My name is Mark Rogowski, and I'm a

       4      fourth-generation farmer in Pine Island, New York.

       5             I raise about 120 different varieties of

       6      vegetables, and I supply New York City farmers'

       7      markets, as well as Orange County farmers' markets,

       8      on about 600 acres.

       9             I currently employ about 25 domestic workers,

      10      as well as about 50 H-2A visa workers.

      11             In New York State the current minimum wage in

      12      Orange County is 11.10 an hour.

      13             I pay all my workers a minimum of 13.25 an

      14      hour.

      15             And all my workers are given an optional day

      16      of rest.

      17             My workers choose to work as many hours as

      18      I can give them, which is around 70 to 80 hours a

      19      week.  They gross between 900 and 1100 dollars a

      20      week.

      21             In addition, they receive free housing.

      22             Housing is nice.  In fact, some of the

      23      housing is the house I grew up in as a child.

      24             If this law passes, I don't even know where

      25      to begin.


       1             I'll have to hire more help, cut my workers'

       2      hours, come up with a plan to try to stay in

       3      business.

       4             I'm not going to be happy because I will not

       5      able to supply the vegetables to the farmers'

       6      markets that we're used to.

       7             My workers aren't going to be happy because

       8      their hours of going to be cut.  They come here to

       9      work as many hours as they possibly can.

      10             And the constituents that we supply our food

      11      to are going to suffer as well.

      12             I'll have to give up farmers' markets in

      13      neighborhoods where we offer discounted produce,

      14      lower-income neighborhoods, because the margins

      15      won't be there anymore.

      16             And I'll have to significantly raise my

      17      vegetable prices at other remaining markets.

      18             This is going to force people to shop for

      19      vegetables at supermarkets, destroying the buy-local

      20      that we've been promoting as a state for so long.

      21             And when people buy vegetables at

      22      supermarkets, you're promoting your carbon

      23      footprint, because vegetables come from supermarkets

      24      from other states and other countries.

      25             Doing business in New York is tough enough as


       1      it is, and many of us family farms are hanging on by

       2      a thread.

       3             This may be the icing on the cake for a lot

       4      of us.

       5             Before you vote for this bill, please

       6      consider not only the impacts that it's going to

       7      have on the farmers, but on my workers, and on your

       8      constituents.

       9             Thank you.

      10             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you, Mark.

      11             Any questions?

      12             Thanks so much.

      13             MARK ROGOWSKI:  Thank you.

      14             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay, we're going to take a

      15      five-minute break, and then finish up.

      16             Thanks so much for everyone's patience.

      17                (The public hearing stands in recess.)

      18                (The public hearing resumes.)

      19             LESLIE BERLIANT:  If everybody could please

      20      sit down and quiet down, we need to get started

      21      again.

      22             If Jacinto Carino, Patricia Smith, and

      23      Carlos Gutierrez could please come up.

      24             Actually, and Ray Pucci.

      25             I'm sorry, I promised Ray.


       1             Ray is up next.

       2             SENATOR METZGER:  Acknowledged, and express

       3      my appreciation for -- to Matt Martine for being

       4      here from New York State Comptroller DiNapoli's

       5      Office.

       6             Thanks for joining us.

       7             LESLIE BERLIANT:  So next up after Ray will

       8      be Jacinto Carino and Patricia Smith, followed by

       9      Carlos Gutierrez.

      10             RAY PUCCI:  Good afternoon.

      11             I am Ray Pucci, president of the Delaware

      12      County Chamber of Commerce, and I speak today on

      13      behalf of hundreds of small-business owners,

      14      including farmers in Delaware County.

      15             We believe the legislation as currently

      16      proposed in both the Senate and the Assembly bills

      17      will have serious negative consequences for the

      18      viability of agriculture, our local economies, the

      19      sustainability of our communities, and the security

      20      of our food supply.

      21             Let me share with you a few facts about farms

      22      in my rural neighborhood.

      23             The USDA Census of Agriculture, released a

      24      little bit more than a week ago, identifies 689 farm

      25      operations in Delaware County.


       1             Nearly 60 percent are owned in full or part

       2      by women.

       3             Labor-related costs are a major component of

       4      the overall cost of production on many of our farms,

       5      due in part to the labor-intensive nature of our

       6      agricultural products, including dairy, vegetable,

       7      and grass crops.

       8             According to USDA, farm-labor expense was

       9      about 12.3 percent of the value of gross receipts,

      10      compared to the national average of 9.5 percent.

      11             Net income to individual farm owners, who

      12      often work without paying themselves, in

      13      Delaware County is less than $16,000 annually.

      14             Now, these are not large corporate-owned

      15      enterprises; rather, our farms are more likely to be

      16      small, multi-generational operations.

      17             The more fortunate ones enjoy having next

      18      generations of family members learning that craft

      19      and willing to carry their farms into the future.

      20             Illustrative of this entrepreneurial spirit

      21      is Kyle Clark.

      22             Kyle is a 24-year-old, fifth-generation dairy

      23      farmer in Delhi.

      24             In a note to me, Kyle notes, quote here now:

      25             It is important to realize that farm labor is


       1      compensated proportionately to the economic

       2      viability of the business itself.

       3             As an owner and manager, I want nothing more

       4      than to pay a better wage to the people who dedicate

       5      their lives to the well-being of the animals that

       6      make this business possible.

       7             He adds, again I'm quoting:

       8             The priority must to be save farms first, as

       9      the jobs they create stretch far beyond those who

      10      are employed on-site.

      11             Additionally, he points out, quote:

      12             The nature of agriculture does not lend

      13      itself to a traditional 40-hour workweek.

      14             Weather conditions, harvest readiness, animal

      15      health, and other factors often limit or extend the

      16      workday.

      17             The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce

      18      agrees with Kyle that a better solution is a broader

      19      plan, developed in partnership with farmers and

      20      national policymakers, to stabilize prices our

      21      farmers receive for their efforts that are based on

      22      actual regional market conditions.

      23             More profitable farms will result in higher

      24      wages to all farmworkers.

      25             One more time to quote Kyle:


       1             The legislation threatens the entire dairy

       2      industry and all the jobs it creates, not because

       3      farmworkers do not deserve a fair wage, but because

       4      it is lazily constructed, premature, and places an

       5      undue burden on a struggling industry that cannot

       6      bear its weight.

       7             Additionally, mandating overtime pay in

       8      New York may shift agriculture to less-intensive

       9      activities and away from putting food our on tables.

      10             We will become more reliant on food sources

      11      from other states and countries.

      12             Local food that we all enjoy may become

      13      little more than just a memory.

      14             Rushing through legislation without a full

      15      discussion, and holding more hearings such as

      16      today's, in all regions of New York, and likening

      17      current farm practices to the

      18      racially-discriminating policies of

      19      post-Reconstruction southern confederacy, is

      20      disingenuous, and diminishes the seriousness of the

      21      reality confronting many areas in Upstate New York.

      22             Instead, let's work toward creating solutions

      23      to the causes of the distress on our farms rather

      24      than a selected symptoms.

      25             My neighbors in my communities deserve


       1      nothing less.

       2             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you, Ray.

       3             Any questions?

       4             Thank you very much.

       5             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is Jacinto Carino,

       6      followed my Patricia Smith.

       7             And if Carlos Gutierrez could also please

       8      come up.

       9             JACINTO CARINO:  Good afternoon, all the

      10      Legislators.

      11             My name is Jacinto Carino.

      12             I am the Soons Orchard foreman and manager of

      13      the farm, more than 30 acres of fruit trees and

      14      vegetables and garden.

      15             This is my co-workers (indiscernible) with

      16      me, Fausto (ph.), Roberto, and Miguel.

      17             I have worked with Soons Orchards since

      18      1990 -- '89, a very long time.

      19             I come to U.S. from Mexico in 1983.

      20             In 2010 I become a resident.

      21             January 15, 2019, I become a United States

      22      citizen.

      23             OFF-CAMERA SPEAKER:  Congratulations.

      24             JACINTO CARINO:  Thank you.

      25             I still visit my family in Mexico every year


       1      for about -- during the winter season.

       2             We (indiscernible) and live in Brooklyn.

       3             I have working in different restaurant as a

       4      cook.

       5             I also did some construction jobs.

       6             And other at one point, tour around to the

       7      USA, play and singer with my Mariachi band.

       8             After a few years I learned English in

       9      New York (indiscernible).

      10             (indiscernible) Soons Orchard found me and my

      11      brother on (indiscernible) of local restaurant.

      12             He asked if we wanted to work for him, and we

      13      said, yes, of course.

      14             Of all the jobs that I have had, I prefer

      15      working on the farm because I have always been a

      16      farmer.

      17             As a (indiscernible) boy in Mexico, my father

      18      was a farm (indiscernible) worker in the field.

      19             That how I was raised, always working hard.

      20             So when this opportunity was offered, how

      21      could I say no.

      22             I come to work at Soons, almost feel like

      23      being back home in Mexico.

      24             My daughter read the next page, please.

      25             DAUGHTER OF JACINTO CARINO:  I'm just going


       1      to continue on.  His English is a little -- I'm just

       2      going to continue on for his reading.

       3             He says:

       4             I have raised two daughters here, now 31 and

       5      23, both of whom worked in Soons Farms' stores as

       6      teenagers.

       7             I also have family members that travel here

       8      every other year on H-2A visas.  Together we work as

       9      a team.

      10             We do pruning, planting, vegetables, and

      11      trees, harvesting and picking fruit, and many other

      12      tasks that takes over six months to bring good crops

      13      to the market at Soons.

      14             My fellow workers and I receive free housing,

      15      utility, and good wages.

      16             As a full-time, year-round employee, I also

      17      receive paid time off.

      18             Some days I only work a few hours.  For

      19      example, if there is rain half of the day or it's

      20      very cold in the winter.

      21             Other days we'll work 10, or even 11 hours.

      22             It all depends on what is ready and what the

      23      weather allows.

      24             We take most Saturdays off, but sometimes

      25      we'll work half a day and continue picking apples.


       1             It all depends.

       2             I talk to Jeff Soons, and we decide what's

       3      most important to get picked and when.

       4             Many people don't want apples that will fall

       5      off the trees if you don't pick them when they are

       6      ready.  Once they fall, we can't sell them.

       7             And other vegetables will get overripe, rot,

       8      or otherwise spoil if you don't pick them when

       9      they're ready.

      10             I do not support this bill because it is

      11      unneeded.

      12             My coworkers and I (indiscernible) and enjoy

      13      our jobs, and we are doing very wells for ourselves;

      14      otherwise, we would not be here for almost 30 years.

      15             We take great pride in what we grow here:

      16      25 acres of apples, 5 acres of peaches, 10 acres of

      17      pumpkins and squashes, and several acres of mixed

      18      vegetables, including garlic, which I suggested

      19      planting a few years ago, and it's been very

      20      successful.

      21             We are doing very well, and we do not want to

      22      risk losing hours because farms cannot afford

      23      overtime.

      24             And I know the farm is just breaks even each

      25      year.


       1             Ours makes just enough to get another used

       2      tractor or overdo upkeep.

       3             Art Soons fixes everything and doesn't ever

       4      buy anything new.

       5             And since I'm doing so well, I also see no

       6      reason to pay out of our paychecks for a union,

       7      which is also unneeded.  And I know my fellow

       8      workers and I feel the same.

       9             Thank you for your chance to share my

      10      experience and views with you.

      11             I hope you will do everything right for

      12      New York farmers like me.

      13             Let us continue to do what we do best, grow

      14      great food.

      15             Thank you.

      16             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      17             Any questions?

      18             SENATOR RAMOS:  Yes, I have a few.

      19             One, did you register to vote?

      20             JACINTO CARINO:  Yes, he did.

      21             SENATOR RAMOS:  Very good.

      22             Excellent.

      23             And the second is:  Did you and/or your

      24      father write this testimony?

      25             DAUGHTER OF JACINTO CARINO:  Well, he -- it's


       1      his words, and I helped him put them together as --

       2      as I could.

       3             SENATOR RAMOS:  Thank you.

       4             SENATOR MAYER:  I have a question.

       5             SENATOR METZGER:  Okay.

       6             Senator Mayer.

       7             SENATOR MAYER:  So does your father, or if

       8      you live together, live on housing provided by

       9      Soons Orchards?

      10             DAUGHTER OF JACINTO CARINO:  Yes, they do.

      11             SENATOR MAYER:  They provide the housing?

      12             DAUGHTER OF JACINTO CARINO:  Yes, they do.

      13             SENATOR MAYER:  And does he pay -- do you pay

      14      for the housing?

      15             DAUGHTER OF JACINTO CARINO:  No.

      16             SENATOR MAYER:  And is that where he's lived

      17      for all these years?

      18             DAUGHTER OF JACINTO CARINO:  He has lived

      19      there for so many years.

      20             I was raised there.

      21             SENATOR MAYER:  You were raised there?

      22             DAUGHTER OF JACINTO CARINO:  Yes.

      23             SENATOR MAYER:  Okay.  Thank you.

      24             DAUGHTER OF JACINTO CARINO:  Thank you.

      25             SENATOR METZGER:  Senator Jackson.


       1             SENATOR JACKSON:  So, Senior, let me thank

       2      you for coming in and giving testimony.

       3             It's important for us as legislators to not

       4      only hear from farmers, but to hear from the

       5      workers.

       6             And as you know, when I was sitting up there,

       7      I had an opportunity to talk to you, and the farmer

       8      who employs you, along with the other three

       9      gentlemen up there that work the farm.

      10             And it clearly appears, based on your

      11      testimony, and I believe 100 percent of what you're

      12      saying, that you're being treated with all decency

      13      and respect, and given the time off.

      14             And as I've heard testimony, sometimes you

      15      may work a half a day, sometimes you have to work

      16      10, 11, 12 hours.

      17             The most important thing I've heard is that,

      18      workers like yourself, you want to earn enough money

      19      in order to send home to family members, and to do

      20      what you have to do.

      21             I understand that.

      22             My wife's family is in Tanzania, East Africa,

      23      in which we, my wife and I, send $500 every single

      24      month to family members in East Africa, along with

      25      her sister who is a retiree who lives in


       1      Connecticut.  She sends money home to family.

       2             That's what family is supposed to do, is to

       3      help one another.

       4             So I thank you for your testimony.

       5             I think that what's important, overall, we

       6      need to address the issue of the fact that employees

       7      are not being paid overtime; address the issue that

       8      they're not being treated, at least some of them,

       9      and I don't know about all of them because I'm not

      10      there in all of the farms, and how the farmers are

      11      treating all of their employees, but we hear

      12      testimony from workers themselves that they're not

      13      being treated with the ultimate respect and dignity,

      14      and all of the things.

      15             So we have to -- we held a hearing, this is

      16      the last one, and we're trying do come up with the

      17      solution that works for everyone.

      18             And I hope that you can understand that.

      19             SENATOR RAMOS:  I'd also like to point out

      20      with -- in your testimony you said that there's no

      21      reason to pay out of your paychecks for a union.

      22             There's no one that is going to force a union

      23      upon you.

      24             What the bill does is grant you the right to

      25      collectively bargain if you so choose.


       1             So just to be clear, that, you know, there's

       2      no one forcing it upon you.

       3             It's if the workers feel that they need to

       4      organize, that they can.

       5             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

       6             By the way, Soons Orchard has great apples.

       7      Great cider.  Been there before.

       8                [Laughter.]

       9             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next is up Patricia Smith,

      10      followed by Carlos Gutierrez.

      11             And if Paul -- oh, you told me how to say it,

      12      I'm going to butcher it -- Ruszkiewicz could come

      13      up, please.

      14             SENATOR METZGER:  Just, we're going to have

      15      to be mindful.  You have very long testimony, so

      16      I just -- written.  So I just want to make sure --

      17             PATRICIA SMITH:  I have four minutes.

      18             SENATOR METZGER:  Right, okay.

      19             PATRICIA SMITH:  I always follow the rules.

      20             SENATOR METZGER:  You've got four minutes,

      21      very good girl.

      22             PATRICIA SMITH:  Senators, thank you.

      23             My name is Patricia Smith.  I'm currently a

      24      senior counsel at the National Employment Law

      25      Project.


       1             I've spent over 30 years in state and federal

       2      government working on labor issues.

       3             From 2007 to 2010, I was commissioner of

       4      labor here in New York.

       5             And I think that this act gives lawmakers the

       6      opportunity to rectify an 80-year-old unjust

       7      exclusion, and to reaffirm that all workers deserve

       8      basic protections, no matter what their job, no

       9      matter what their race.

      10             Although the -- both the state Labor

      11      Relations Act and the state minimum-wage law

      12      originally excluded from its coverage a number of

      13      occupations.

      14             Today, farmworkers are really the only

      15      blue-collar category of workers in New York State

      16      that are excluded from these basic protections.

      17             They need the right to advocate for

      18      themselves without fear of retaliation.

      19             And one thing I want to point out is that

      20      collective bargaining rights give them that

      21      protection; to be able to speak up, to be able to

      22      speak to their fellow workers, without fear of

      23      retaliation, even if there is no formal agreement or

      24      if there is no union.

      25             Currently, farmworkers can be retaliated


       1      against, and even fired, for speaking to their

       2      fellow workers, for asking for a raise, for pointing

       3      out either unsafe or some other working condition

       4      that they think is bad.

       5             And it's not a theoretical concern.

       6             Their stories abound of farmworkers in this

       7      state who have been fired or retaliated against for

       8      speaking out.

       9             Farmworkers are generally low-wage workers.

      10             According to the New York State Labor

      11      Department, their medium (sic) income is 28 --

      12      between 28,000 and 30,000.  Their entry-level wages

      13      can be as low as 21,000.

      14             Now, I know that the overtime provisions of

      15      this act are controversial.

      16             However, every time the Legislature has tried

      17      or considered improving labor rights or wages of

      18      farmworkers, it's been controversial.

      19             Frankly, every time the Legislature has

      20      considered bringing in occupations that had been

      21      excluded from overtime protections, it's been

      22      controversial.

      23             So -- and while the opposition to the

      24      overtime requirements focus on the costs, one thing

      25      you have to understand is that farmers are already


       1      paying for long working hours in the form of lost

       2      productivity, in the form of increased injuries.

       3             And farming is one, really, of the most

       4      dangerous and injury-prone occupations that there

       5      are.

       6             I don't think that the arguments against

       7      paying any overtime to farmworkers stand up.

       8             Farm work is not unique.

       9             Yes, it's seasonal.

      10             Other occupations, like landscaping,

      11      construction, and retail are also seasonal, but

      12      those workers are entitled to overtime.

      13             Yes, farm products can be perishable, but

      14      other workers who work with perishable items, like

      15      in the food-supply chain, are -- cannery workers are

      16      entitled to overtime.

      17             Yes, hours can be unpredictable and can be

      18      influenced by the weather.

      19             A construction worker's schedules are also

      20      seasonal and unpredictable and influenced by the

      21      weather, but they're entitled to overtime.

      22             I think it's impossible to predict what the

      23      cost of overtime will be on any individual farm

      24      owner or any individual farm, because farm owners

      25      will have certain flexibility if there are overtime


       1      requirements, and how to respond to that.

       2             But I do want to point out, that I know that

       3      a number of opponents to this bill have cited the

       4      Farm Credit East report as showing that the costs of

       5      overtime, at 40 hours, would be entirely

       6      unmanageable in this state.

       7             But, actually, if you look at the report and

       8      analyze the report --

       9             Oh, I'm sorry --

      10             SENATOR METZGER:  If you can (inaudible).

      11             PATRICIA SMITH:  -- it's much -- it is much

      12      lower.

      13             And you can look in my written testimony to

      14      talk about that.

      15             And, finally, four other states successfully

      16      have overtime requirements, and it's not just

      17      California that has three seasons.

      18             Minnesota has an overtime requirement for

      19      farmers of 48 weeks, and I'm sure their growing

      20      season is just as short as New York's.

      21             SENATOR METZGER:  Senator Savino.

      22             SENATOR SAVINO:  Good to see you again, Pat.

      23             I remember, when you were the commissioner of

      24      the department of labor here, you left in 2010, that

      25      was when we finally passed the Domestic Workers'


       1      Bill of Rights.

       2             And I want to thank you for your efforts on

       3      that, and working with me on it.

       4             But when you were commissioner of DOL, what

       5      was the experience of the department of labor with

       6      respect to inspections on farms in New York?

       7             What -- what -- as the commissioner, what did

       8      you see as the state of farmworkers across the

       9      industry, if you recall?

      10             PATRICIA SMITH:  Well, immigrant workers in

      11      this country tend to be vulnerable and oppressed,

      12      and farmworkers tend to be vulnerable and oppressed

      13      no more than any other immigrant.

      14             I'm not saying that farm owners are -- are --

      15      are anything else.

      16             But, just sort of the nature of the system

      17      and the exclusion from protections.

      18             So, you see many farm owners who treat their

      19      workers very well, and you see farm owners who don't

      20      treat their workers very well, and that's --

      21      that's -- that's just a fact of the life.

      22             But what you do see is a system where

      23      farmworkers aren't able to protect themselves as

      24      well, and just because they are denied these basic

      25      rights.


       1             And because, as the farm owners are talking,

       2      and they're true, that they have seasonable -- they

       3      have seasonable work, and that they're making a lot

       4      of their money in a very short period of time, the

       5      same thing is true of farmworkers.

       6             I mean, those farmworkers who are working

       7      80 hours a week, or 60 hours a week, during the

       8      growing season probably aren't making any income at

       9      all, or very little income, outside of that season.

      10             So, I mean, the situation for farm owners and

      11      farmworkers in that way is compatible.

      12             Yes, they're making -- well, unless they're

      13      dairy farmers and they're year-round, but many of

      14      the growers are making their income, including the

      15      farmworkers, in a very short period of time.

      16             But they're working long hours, but they're

      17      still getting the same amount of pay for hour 1 than

      18      for hour 51.

      19             SENATOR SAVINO:  Right.

      20             And you mentioned four other states that

      21      right now provide overtime at time and a half.

      22             Do they do it at 40 hours?

      23             PATRICIA SMITH:  Minnesota does it at 48.

      24             California will eventually get to 40, but

      25      they are phasing it in.


       1             And I can't remember the other two, but it's

       2      in the report.

       3             SENATOR SAVINO:  Okay.

       4             And do you -- off the top of your head, do

       5      you know if minimum wage in those states?

       6             I'm assuming California is probably as close

       7      to New York.

       8             PATRICIA SMITH:  California is, probably,

       9      actually higher than New York.

      10             It may not be higher in New York in

      11      four years, but we don't know what California will

      12      be in four years.

      13             And Minnesota is more than the federal

      14      minimum wage, but I don't know exactly what it is.

      15             SENATOR METZGER:  I believe one of them was

      16      60 hours, maybe.

      17             SENATOR SAVINO:  Okay.  Thank you.

      18                [Applause.]

      19             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is

      20      Carlos Gutierrez, followed by Paul Ruszkiewicz, and

      21      Rhode Dolrlus, I think.

      22             CARLOS GUTIERREZ:  Good afternoon, and thank

      23      you for being here after so many years of trying to

      24      have this bill through the Senate.

      25             So it's nothing new that we've been seeing


       1      lately.

       2             My name is Carlos Gutierrez, and I work for

       3      the Tompkins County Workers' Center.  I've been

       4      there for eight years.  My title there, basically,

       5      what I do is, occupational safety and health

       6      training.

       7             I do outreach to workers in many places.

       8             Lots of them to dairy farms, restaurant

       9      workers; basically, workers that are most

      10      vulnerable, to train them in occupational safety and

      11      health, and see how they're doing.

      12             The other part that we do at the workers'

      13      center is that we have a hotline, and people call us

      14      on the phone every single day.  We receive about

      15      400 average calls or visit at the workers' center.

      16             Basically, we live in Ithaca, we are in

      17      Ithaca.  It's a small community, 100,000 in

      18      population, but, we have a strategic plan.

      19             We support, advocate, educate, train, to

      20      develop what we call "empowerment," so the

      21      individual, the workers, can feel in some way that,

      22      you know, has the basic tools, or basic knowledge,

      23      to, basically, stand for himself, or with the help

      24      of others.

      25             Farmworkers are -- or, things that I have


       1      learned through that is, lots people get injured at

       2      work.

       3             And what I have learned is, that many people

       4      are taken to the hospitals, and employees are

       5      failing to file for unemploy -- for workers'

       6      compensation.

       7             I have heard of cases where workers have been

       8      going -- have been hospitalized after working

       9      injured, and then coming back to work to be,

      10      basically, deducted money as from their paychecks as

      11      wage advancement.

      12             All right?

      13             The average that I know is 72 hours a week.

      14             In calculating, imagine, you know, if they

      15      were paid time and a half after 32 hours, it

      16      amounts, at least for a worker in New York State, to

      17      not being paid $9,000 a year for that little amount

      18      of -- the half of the -- of the one time and a half.

      19             Think about it, when you have a farm that is

      20      minimum 10 workers.  That is not under the

      21      jurisdiction of OSHA.

      22             And I come up with exorbitant number,

      23      millions of dollars, that, basically, looks like an

      24      in-kind contribution that the farmworkers are

      25      give -- making to the agricultural industry, to our


       1      state, to the country, and to the consumer.

       2             You know, this -- if you do the calculations

       3      yourself, you are going to see that millions of

       4      dollars that, basically, the industry is saving, all

       5      right.  And you have a job (indiscernible).  I hear,

       6      you know, the situation in the farms.

       7             But, you have to understand that farmworkers,

       8      basically, are being exploited, regardless of why

       9      they come to this country.

      10             In the words of a worker that -- a former

      11      dairy farmworker, I asked him about this, and he

      12      said:

      13             I like the passage of this bill because --

      14      (speaking Spanish) -- to be like the citizens, to be

      15      paid the same way.

      16             Our labor is worth much more than the minimum

      17      wage.  And we are the ones that work 12 hours a

      18      days, 6 days a week, 7 days a week.

      19             We are who do the work.  It is only just that

      20      we get paid.

      21             And, of course, the workers' (indiscernible)

      22      in support of the bill.

      23             Thank you very much.

      24             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      25                [Applause.]


       1             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next we have

       2      Paul Ruszkiewicz, followed by Rhode Dolrlus.

       3             And, Caesar Arenas, if you could come up,

       4      please.

       5             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  Thank you.

       6             I really appreciate the fact that you're

       7      taking the time to listen to all these speakers.

       8             My name is Paul Ruszkiewicz.

       9             I'm a fourth-generation onion grower from

      10      Pine Island, New York.

      11             My father and I farm approximately 225 acres

      12      in the "Black Dirt Region" of Orange County.

      13             In addition to onions, we also produce winter

      14      squash, pumpkins, corn, and soy beans.

      15             In addition to farming, I also serve as the

      16      president of the Orange County Vegetable Growers

      17      Association, and I'm here representing over

      18      50 growers from Orange County.

      19             I also serve as an Orange County legislator.

      20             And I would like to say that Orange County

      21      also passed a resolution, opposing this legislation,

      22      as well as a number of other counties.

      23             Yeah, I have submitted my written testimony,

      24      so I'm not going to read it word for word.  I'm

      25      going to deviate a little bit, but I'll try to stay


       1      within the four minutes.

       2             You know, other speakers already talked about

       3      the -- you know, the overtime and how that's going

       4      to affect our businesses.

       5             Collective bargaining, it's also not

       6      something that's appropriate for agriculture.

       7             Senator Metzger, I think you mentioned,

       8      currently, agriculture, one of our other labor

       9      challenges is we have a labor shortage right now.

      10             It's tough for us to find workers.

      11             Workers on our farms, if they're not happy

      12      with their working conditions or the wages they

      13      receive, they can leave.  They can go down the road

      14      and easily get a job at another farm.

      15             One of our biggest challenges of labor is

      16      labor retention.

      17             We do everything we can to provide for our

      18      workers and make it so they want to come back.

      19             We have one employee who has been with us

      20      30 years.

      21             And I think you'll find that's similar in a

      22      lot of other operations.

      23             You know, other speakers have also talked

      24      about some of the other benefits.

      25             Housing, transportation, we all provide that.


       1             One of the other benefits that we're able to

       2      provide is, because of the seasonal nature of our

       3      work and the short amount of time we have to get the

       4      work done, we're able to offer the amount of hours

       5      that these workers want to work.

       6             They come here because they know that they

       7      can get those hours.

       8             If we're unable to provide those hours,

       9      they're going to go to other states that don't have

      10      those requirements.

      11             It's going to be, you know, harmful to our

      12      businesses, it's going to be harmful to our workers.

      13             Also in Orange County, a lot of our growers

      14      go to the green markets in New York City.  They have

      15      to compete with growers in other states who have

      16      lower minimum wages, fewer requirements.

      17             And I know a lot of growers that I talk to,

      18      that do go to the green markets, they've had to cut

      19      back on the number of markets that they attend, just

      20      because of the increase in minimum wage and other

      21      costs.

      22             I mean, if those costs continue to go up,

      23      they're going to have to continue to cut back on the

      24      markets or stop doing the markets all together.

      25             Again, you know, agriculture is unique.


       1             You know, we're not factories.  We're not

       2      producing widgets where we can control the quality

       3      or the quantity of the product.

       4             We're subject to Mother Nature.

       5             You know, what we produce is what we have to

       6      sell.

       7             I mean, whether it's -- I mean, we hope for a

       8      bumper crop with excellent quality at high market

       9      price, but that's not always the case.

      10             A lot of times we're devastated by weather,

      11      we have poor quality.

      12             We have to do the best we can to market that

      13      product.

      14             Again, I'd like to thank you for hosting

      15      these hearings, getting feedback from farmers, from

      16      farmworkers, community members, but I think this has

      17      to be just the beginning of the conversation.

      18             I would like to encourage you to do further

      19      research.  You know, we're coming into our growing

      20      season right now.

      21             This upcoming growing season, excellent

      22      opportunity for you to come out, visit our farms,

      23      you know, see what we do.  See what challenges we

      24      face.

      25             Talk to our workers, see what they want.


       1             You know, I'd be -- the Orange County

       2      Vegetable Growers would be more than happy to

       3      organize a tour for any legislators who want to come

       4      out and -- to our area, to our farms.

       5             Also, Senator Metzger has my contact

       6      information.

       7             If any of you individually want to come out

       8      and see the farm, see what we do, I'd be more than

       9      happy to take the time to do that.

      10             So, again, I know your session ends in June,

      11      and there may be some urgency to get this passed,

      12      but I would encourage you to take more time.

      13             You know, extend the conversation, come out,

      14      see what we do.

      15             Hear from more farmers, more farmworkers,

      16      and, you know, gather as must information as you can

      17      to fully understand how this is going to impact our

      18      businesses, and our employees, and consumers.

      19             Thank you.

      20             SENATOR METZGER:  Thanks very much, Paul.

      21             Any questions?

      22             SENATOR JACKSON:  I have a quick question.

      23             SENATOR METZGER:  Senator Jackson.

      24             SENATOR JACKSON:  First, thank you for coming

      25      in, appreciate it.


       1             I may take you up on that, as far as visiting

       2      your farm.

       3             But, how many employees do you employ?

       4             And you talked about that they try to get as

       5      many hours.

       6             How many hours, on average, do you think

       7      during the season do they work, per week?

       8             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  Well, yeah, that varies a

       9      lot --

      10             SENATOR JACKSON:  Of course.

      11             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  -- with, you know,

      12      different operations, different commodities.

      13             I do -- everything I do is wholesale, so

      14      I don't have the labor requirements that some of the

      15      green-markets' growers do, where they're working,

      16      you know, 60, 70, 80 hours a week.

      17             On our farm, you know, at one point, when my

      18      uncle was still in the business, we were growing,

      19      I think, one year, 265 acres of onions.

      20             We had eight seasonal workers that year.

      21             You know, we've downsized quite a bit, and

      22      diversified a little bit.

      23             So, currently, we have three seasonal

      24      workers.

      25             SENATOR JACKSON:  Seasonal workers?


       1             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  Seasonal workers, right.

       2             Not H-2A.

       3             We're not at the size where we can afford the

       4      H-2A --

       5             SENATOR JACKSON:  Orange County, what's the

       6      minimum wage in Orange County?

       7             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  The minimum wage is the

       8      same as it is with the state.  I think it's --

       9             SENATOR JACKSON:  No, it's different based on

      10      regions.

      11             New York is $15 an hour.

      12             I think yours would be 11 --

      13             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  Oh, yeah, like, 11 -- one

      14      of the speakers --

      15             SENATOR JACKSON:  What do you pay your

      16      employees?

      17             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  We pay them minimum wage.

      18             SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay.  And how many

      19      hours --

      20             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  Well, on our farm, a

      21      typical week is 55 hours.  You know, 10 hours a day,

      22      5 hours (sic) a week.  We do half a day on Saturday,

      23      and they'll work on Sunday.

      24             SENATOR JACKSON:  They work on Sunday, or --

      25             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  No, no work on Sunday.


       1             They have Saturday afternoon and Sunday off.

       2             SENATOR JACKSON:  And the housing you provide

       3      for them?

       4             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  We provide housing, yes.

       5             We provide transportation.  That's usually

       6      me.

       7             SENATOR JACKSON:  At no cost?

       8             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  No cost, nope.

       9             SENATOR JACKSON:  When you say

      10      "transportation," you don't have housing on your

      11      farm, no?

      12             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  Oh, no, we have housing on

      13      the farm.

      14             But as far as transportation, you know, once

      15      a week, it's usually Saturday afternoon or Sunday,

      16      either my father and I will drive them to the

      17      grocery store, to Walmart, wherever they want to go

      18      to do their shopping, and whatnot.

      19             You know, sometimes they'll have a doctor's

      20      appointment, and we'll transport them there, and

      21      whatnot, so -- as far as the transportation.

      22             And, you know, I mentioned a typical week is

      23      55 hours.

      24             Last year we had an extremely glut-growing

      25      season, and we struggled right through harvest


       1      trying to get our crop.

       2             I mean, we still have 8 acres in the

       3      ground -- 8 acres of onions in the ground that we

       4      couldn't harvest last year, just because we couldn't

       5      get into the field to get them out.

       6             And, you know, we had extensive, you know,

       7      weather delays, harvesting.

       8             And then, when we could get in, had a break

       9      in the weather, you know, I think some weeks last

      10      year we worked 70-plus hours a week, just trying to

      11      catch up and get our work done.

      12             SENATOR JACKSON:  Try to get in and do as

      13      much as you can with the time --

      14             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  Right, right.

      15             SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay.  Thank you.

      16             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  So, yeah, it varies.

      17             So -- you know, but thank you for having this

      18      conversation.

      19             I hope you continue to have it.

      20             SENATOR RAMOS:  Thank you.

      21             PAUL RUSZKIEWICZ:  Thank you.

      22             SENATOR METZGER:  Thanks very much.

      23             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is Rhode Dolrlus,

      24      followed by Caesar Arenas.

      25             And if Douglas Davenport could please come


       1      up.

       2             RHODE DOLRUS:  Good evening, everyone.

       3             My name is Rhode Dolrlus.

       4             SENATOR JACKSON:  (Inaudible.)

       5             RHODE DOLRUS:  Okay.

       6             My name is Rhode Dolrlus.  I'm from Haiti.

       7             I came to the United States in 1997, and

       8      I have been working at Mead Orchard since 2014.

       9             When they was hired me, they was hired me for

      10      packing house, like packing apples, stuff like that.

      11             And later on, I learning more skill, I'm

      12      working on the farm.

      13             And, bushing, after they do pruning, I'm

      14      behind the guys from the H-2A worker, and follow

      15      them.

      16             And then I working in the cider.

      17             I'm working everywhere they need me.  I will

      18      be able to do whatever he need me to do.

      19             And since thens I went to the farmers'

      20      market, White Plain, Westchester, Tarrytown,

      21      (indiscernible), Blazenville.

      22             My -- I see what's going on on the farm.

      23             I got a good boss.

      24             Things getting hard.

      25             I can see that myself, it's getting hard for


       1      them.

       2             I see it.

       3             We go to the farm, we (indiscernible) and

       4      vegetables.  By the end of the afternoon, we came

       5      back with half of it.

       6             And when we came back with half of it,

       7      sometimes we give some to food pantry.

       8             And then when we get back home, we got local

       9      church, we give them like donation.

      10             And later on you put it in compost.

      11             And we leave at the market, like -- we leave

      12      the packing house 3:00 in the morning.  Get to at

      13      the market, like, I would say 6:00, 7:00, get set

      14      up, and came back for 5:00.  By the time, 6:00,

      15      that's when we pack up with everything together, and

      16      then we, like, go to do our thing.

      17             But, selling or not, they have to pay us.

      18             Sometime we feel bad, but they have to pay

      19      us.

      20             We leave early.  We keep late.

      21             I don't have no problem.  I would take time

      22      and a half, no problem with it.

      23             But when I take the time and a half, how

      24      (indiscernible) for this season, for next season?

      25             I will think to myself, what am I going to


       1      pay my kids tuition for next season?

       2             How am I going to pay it?

       3             Because I know they can't afford me for time

       4      and a half.

       5             We work every -- not every day.

       6             Today is raining, no work.

       7             Tomorrow, nice day out.

       8             We work all that we can because we don't know

       9      tomorrow.  We don't know what is going to happen

      10      tomorrow.

      11             I will love you to understand:

      12             I love my co-worker.  We like a team, we like

      13      a family.

      14             We got H-2A worker, Jamaican, Haitian.  Local

      15      people we work with.  We work like a team, like

      16      brothers and sisters.

      17             But we see what's going on with the owner of

      18      the farm.  They struggle.

      19             They struggle.

      20             We don't mind to work whatever we can do.

      21             But time and a half, like I said, I will

      22      enjoy time and a half.

      23             But this week, yes, good for us.

      24             Next week, yes, good for us.

      25             For next season, they might not call me


       1      because they cannot afford me.

       2             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

       3             Can I ask, how many years have you been at

       4      Mead Farm?

       5             RHODE DOLRUS:  I been in 2014.

       6             SENATOR METZGER:  Oh, 2014.  You did say

       7      that.

       8             Okay.  Thank you.

       9             RHODE DOLRUS:  2014.

      10             And we got a new manager here.  And we got a

      11      good -- we have a plan, we work on it.

      12             We want to work on it.

      13             But, I don't think for this time and a half

      14      is going to be good for the farmers.

      15             SENATOR JACKSON:  Wouldn't you like to be

      16      paid time and a half?

      17             RHODE DOLRUS:  I would love to.

      18             SENATOR JACKSON:  I know.  I would --

      19             RHODE DOLRUS:  But they can't afford it.

      20             They can't afford it.

      21             SENATOR JACKSON:  I guess that's the issue.

      22             tho:  That's the struggle.

      23             You know, even we -- I talk to other

      24      co-worker like mine, yes, but we see what's going

      25      on.  We see how struggle they are.


       1             SENATOR JACKSON:  That's why we're listening

       2      to testimony, and I asked you a very simple

       3      question, and of course you answered it yes.

       4             Who wouldn't want to be paid overtime.

       5             RHODE DOLRUS:  Yes, but, they cannot afford

       6      it.

       7             They cannot.

       8             SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay.  We're looking at all

       9      of those things then.

      10             And let me just say that we appreciate your

      11      testimony; your coming up here, giving testimony as

      12      a worker.

      13             And I don't know if you came on your own

      14      accord or your employer asked you to come --

      15             RHODE DOLRUS:  I came on my own.

      16             When I hear --

      17             SENATOR JACKSON:  -- but the bottom line is,

      18      you're here.

      19             RHODE DOLRUS:  -- when I heard that, I go to

      20      the office.  I asked (indiscernible), what's going

      21      on?  How you think about it?

      22             And then they say, We don't know.  What do

      23      you think?

      24             They say, "What do you think?"

      25             I say, I don't think so, because I want to be


       1      able to retire.

       2             I want to be able to work the next year after

       3      the next year after the next year.

       4             SENATOR RAMOS:  What's currently your

       5      retirement plan?

       6             RHODE DOLRUS:  Oh, when my kids finish on

       7      college, I'm going to go back home, enjoy my

       8      retirement, and then come and visit United States

       9      all the -- you know, most of the time.

      10             SENATOR RAMOS:  And how -- and your savings

      11      so far towards that ideal life that you would like,

      12      you're on pace?

      13             RHODE DOLRUS:  Excuse me?

      14             SENATOR RAMOS:  Are your savings on pace to

      15      be able to provide you with the retirement that

      16      you're seeking?

      17             RHODE DOLRUS:  Yes.

      18             I go to my country every -- after season,

      19      I go to my country every December.

      20             SENATOR JACKSON:  And you work in

      21      Orange County?  Or --

      22             RHODE DOLRUS:  I work Mead Orchard, Tivoli,

      23      New York.

      24             SENATOR JACKSON:  And how much are you paid

      25      an hour, if I may ask, if that's not asking too


       1      much?

       2             RHODE DOLRUS:  13.25.

       3             SENATOR METZGER:  It's the H-2A wage.

       4             SENATOR JACKSON:  You're H-2A?

       5             RHODE DOLRUS:  Yes.

       6             SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay.  So, H-2A, you're

       7      meeting whatever the requirements of the federal

       8      government say that, you know, H-2A workers have.

       9             Okay, thank you.  I appreciate it.

      10             SENATOR RAMOS:  You live between

      11      New York City and Tivoli?

      12             Where in New York City do you live when you

      13      live there?

      14             RHODE DOLRUS:  I live in Brooklyn.

      15             But my family is in Brooklyn, because I can

      16      get more work up here than Brooklyn.

      17             I just come in, and go back and forth

      18      sometime.  But, most of the time I stay up here.

      19             But I go to visit my family.

      20             Like, if it's raining tomorrow, I know they

      21      have no work, I go to the city and see my family.

      22             SENATOR JACKSON:  Very good.

      23             Thank you very much.

      24             SENATOR RAMOS:  Thank you.

      25             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.


       1                [Applause.]

       2             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is Caesar Arenas,

       3      followed by Douglas Davenport.

       4             And if Sarah Dressel could please come up.

       5                (Ari Mir Pontier now translating Spanish

       6        to English/English to Spanish on behalf of

       7        Cesar Arenas.)

       8             CESAR ARENAS:  (Speaking Spanish, English

       9      translation.)

      10             Good afternoon.

      11             My story and my history, is that I am

      12      Caesar Arenas, originally from Mexico.

      13             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      14             I came to this country 20 years ago with

      15      goals and aspirations --

      16             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      17             -- like the others that came from our

      18      countries.

      19             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      20             I am very blessed to be in this great

      21      nation --

      22             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      23             -- that which gives us the opportunity --

      24             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      25             -- to prosper --


       1             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       2             -- since, in our country, the labor is scarce

       3      and poorly paid.

       4             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       5             That is the reason that I am here in front of

       6      you today --

       7             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       8             -- to express my opinion about the law that

       9      you wish to implement --

      10             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      11             -- with the goal to help us, which we

      12      appreciate very much.

      13             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      14             But in the livestock sector, the goal of

      15      eight hours is basically impossible --

      16             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      17             -- some of which requires more time.

      18             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      19             We understand that some employers exploit

      20      their workers.

      21             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      22             During the time that I have worked on the

      23      farm, I can attest to --

      24             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      25             -- that with 10 hours per day of work --


       1             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       2             -- which would be 50 hours a week --

       3             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       4             -- would be enough to sustain our families.

       5             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       6             My family consists of six members --

       7             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       8             -- of which I am the only provider.

       9             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      10             And just like me, there are many families

      11      that find themselves in the same situation --

      12             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      13             -- because, if you implement 40 hours and

      14      overtime pay --

      15             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      16             -- it would be a decision that would affect

      17      the employers.

      18             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      19             They would be forced to invest in

      20      technology --

      21             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      22             -- and the jobs that we now have --

      23             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      24             -- would disappear little by little, and we

      25      would be forced to --


       1             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       2             -- to find other sources of employment --

       3             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       4             -- or to move out of the state.

       5             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       6             I have the duty and responsibility --

       7             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       8             -- to hand in this petition --

       9             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      10             -- that have been signed by my co-workers.

      11             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      12             Please analyze the advantages and

      13      disadvantages --

      14             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      15             -- that this law would regulate into

      16      eight hours.

      17             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      18             Ten hours would be sufficient to do a good

      19      job --

      20             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      21             -- and have a healthier life.

      22             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      23             We also ask you to use your conscience to

      24      pass a law --

      25             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)


       1             -- called "Green Light" --

       2             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       3             -- so that, in this state, all immigrants can

       4      have driver's licenses.

       5             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       6             Thank you very much, and God bless you.

       7             SENATOR METZGER:  Muchas gracias.

       8             Any questions?

       9             Senator Mayer?

      10             SENATOR MAYER:  You work on a dairy farm; is

      11      that correct?

      12             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      13             CESAR ARENAS:  Yes.

      14             SENATOR MAYER:  And are you year-round, all

      15      year-round?  Not seasonal, year-round?

      16             CESAR ARENAS:  Uh-huh.

      17             SENATOR MAYER:  Right.

      18             And you say in your testimony that if it was

      19      10 hours a week (sic), and then overtime, that would

      20      be okay because you could do the work in 10 hours a

      21      day?

      22             Am I understanding that correctly?

      23             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      24             CESAR ARENAS:  It could be just 10 hours and

      25      not extra hours.


       1             SENATOR MAYER:  Right, that's what I thought

       2      you meant.

       3             Okay, thank you very much.

       4             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

       5                [Applause.]

       6             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is Douglas --

       7             Sorry.

       8             If you guys could hold your applause, we're

       9      really trying to get through the whole program.

      10             Next up is Douglas Davenport, followed by

      11      Sarah Dressel, and Reverend Richard Witt.

      12             DOUGLAS DAVENPORT:  Good afternoon.

      13             SENATOR METZGER:  Good afternoon.

      14             DOUGLAS DAVENPORT:  My name is

      15      Doug Davenport, and I'd like to thank the Senators

      16      for giving me the opportunity today to speak.

      17             My brother Bob and I are here to represent

      18      our fifth-generation vegetable farm located in

      19      Hudson Valley.

      20             We have a strong connection with our land and

      21      the people who work beside us.

      22             We are proud of our 150-year stewardship of

      23      the land and indebted to the labor force that has

      24      enabled us, enabled our farm, to remain viable.

      25             We employ 40 H-2A workers.


       1             The bulk of our harvest season takes place in

       2      12 to 15 weeks.

       3             Our workers come with expectations that there

       4      is enough work on our farm to provide up to a

       5      60-plus-hour workweek.

       6             Workers want the options to work seven days a

       7      week.

       8             We offer a weekly day of rest, but many

       9      choose to work instead.

      10             I broke down our labor costs for 2018.

      11             If our farm paid overtime based on a 40-hour

      12      workweek, our payroll costs would increase, from 30,

      13      to 42 percent, of our overall expenses.

      14             Average margins in farming are between zero

      15      and 15 percent.  Many times these margins dip into

      16      the negative range.

      17             If we have a 1 to 2 percent rise in an

      18      expense category, it becomes a major concern, and at

      19      that point my brother and I sit down to figure out

      20      if this cost increase can be offset elsewhere.

      21             With this proposed legislation, our labor

      22      costs would increase 12 to 15 percent.  Coupled with

      23      the annual rate hike for H-2A workers, this

      24      percentage would -- increase will rise each year.

      25             There is no room for negotiation on the


       1      revenue side.

       2             We cannot come close to absorbing the cost of

       3      this labor increase.  We are competing with growers

       4      in Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia,

       5      New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts,

       6      Vermont, Michigan, Colorado, California,

       7      Connecticut, and Canada.

       8             Many of these states will offer similar

       9      commodities and more competitive prices.

      10             This will result in our farm going out of

      11      business in one year.

      12             In the last 35 years our farm has endured

      13      floods, droughts, heatwaves, hurricanes, and

      14      tornadoes.

      15             The frequency and intensity of these events

      16      has noticeably heightened in the last 10 years.

      17             This added burden of climate change directly

      18      increases our labor costs and is an unpredictable

      19      expense.

      20             We know that these expenditures will continue

      21      to rise in the future.

      22             We appreciate land-preservation organizations

      23      that protect farmland, but this proposed legislation

      24      will spike labor costs so high that it will reduce

      25      the overall number of farms in New York State.


       1             As a result, there will be open land with no

       2      one to farm it.

       3             This proposed legislation impact does not

       4      just affect our farm.  It's about the economic

       5      prosperity of rural communities across New York

       6      State.

       7             Operational farms allow New York State

       8      residents to fully interact with the land by

       9      visiting local farm markets, you-pick operations,

      10      and farm-to-table experiences.

      11             New York State residents reap many health and

      12      recreational benefits.

      13             I urge lawmakers to sit down with

      14      professionals who run farms, dairies, and other

      15      agribusinesses, along with their employees, and

      16      reevaluate the components that set farmers apart

      17      from other industries where an 8-hour day, 40-hour

      18      workweek, is the norm.

      19             Let's further collaborate and draft a bill

      20      that would be fair to all parties involved.

      21             In conclusion:

      22             Farms work -- farmer -- farms require work

      23      hours outside the normal business day and workweek.

      24             The failure to modify this proposed

      25      legislation to align itself with the reality of the


       1      day-to-day farming will permanently change the

       2      landscape of New York State agriculture.

       3             New York farms that produce enough fresh

       4      produce and other farm products to supply local

       5      retail markets, wholesale markets like Hunts Point,

       6      and the green markets in New York City will be gone.

       7             This legislation creates an impenetrable

       8      barrier for those entering the agricultural industry

       9      within our state.

      10             First-generation farmers will choose to start

      11      their operations outside of New York.

      12             There will be too much to lose and nothing to

      13      gain.

      14             Thank you.

      15             SENATOR METZGER:  Thanks so much.

      16             And, questions?

      17             Okay.

      18             We appreciate your testimony.

      19             Thank you.

      20             DOUGLAS DAVENPORT:  Thanks.

      21             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next is Sarah Dressel.

      22             If Reverend Richard Witt and Roberto Herrera

      23      could come up as well.

      24             SARAH DRESSEL-NICHOLS:  Good afternoon.

      25             Good to see you again, Senator Metzger.


       1             She was out at our place about a month ago,

       2      taking a walk around to see, in the mud.

       3             It was really fun.

       4             My name is Sarah Dressel-Nichols, and my

       5      family owns and operates Dressel Farms in New Paltz.

       6             We grow approximately 350 acres of apples,

       7      along with about 5 acres of strawberries, some

       8      peaches, and other fruits.

       9             The majority of our operation is wholesale

      10      apples that make their way into grocery stores

      11      around the country, but we also have a retail

      12      operation open, virtually, year-round so we can

      13      interact with our community face-to-face.

      14             We employ, roughly, 30 people year-round, and

      15      add another 20 or so via the H-2A program each fall,

      16      depending on how plentiful the harvest is.

      17             Most of those people that we hire are

      18      families.  We do have several families that

      19      live (sic) for us, and I can name all 20 children

      20      that live on the farm -- well, 19.  There's one

      21      that's new, and I'm not positive on his name yet.

      22             But I can name 19 out of the 20 children that

      23      live on our farm.

      24             This is an incredibly busy time for farmers.

      25             Fruit growers have a lot of disease pressure,


       1      courtesy of all the rain.

       2             We're trying to get new orchards planted and

       3      established.

       4             Greenhouse growers are looking at

       5      Mother's Day coming up, and trying to get plants

       6      into stores as quickly as they can.

       7             Folks with livestock never stop caring for

       8      their animals and are always busy.

       9             Sorry, guys.

      10             The fact that these hearings have been filled

      11      with farmers and farmworkers should show you just

      12      how impactful this bill would be to all of us,

      13      because we have a lot better things to do.

      14             But, this is the most important thing to be

      15      doing.

      16             This bill, as it's written, would put most of

      17      us out of work, and that means, by default, that all

      18      of our employees would also be out of work, because

      19      agriculture is not your usual 9-to-5.

      20             We're at the mercy of the weather and really

      21      do have to make hay when the sun shines.

      22             For example, earlier this week we had a frost

      23      advisory.

      24             With blossoms just starting to pop, that

      25      means that we needed to think about using our wind


       1      machines in the cooler orchard spots to protect the

       2      apple blossoms that were just starting to begin.

       3             My father, and my grandfather, who is 83,

       4      spent all day on Sunday in the rain, getting the

       5      wind machines ready and trying to get them as

       6      prepared as we possibly could.

       7             At midnight my mother woke my father up

       8      because we were quickly approaching the freezing

       9      mark.

      10             And once you dip below 32, anything below 27

      11      is catastrophic.

      12             So the two of them went out and found that

      13      one of the propane tanks was empty, and there was a

      14      snafu with one of the other engines.  And it took

      15      them four hours in the cold, wet, to get them up and

      16      running, so then they could go back home just before

      17      5 a.m.

      18             My grandfather went back out at six to turn

      19      them off when we had, you know, exceeded 33 degrees.

      20             By 7:30 both my parents were back at work.

      21             Dad was in the sprayer, mom was in the office

      22      doing payroll and other such things.

      23             My dad and I were at work until seven that

      24      night.

      25             My point is, that Mother Nature really is the


       1      one calling the shots, and we don't have much of a

       2      say in what she does.

       3             We just have to find ways to work with her.

       4             We cannot help the fact that one workday is

       5      longer than the next, so punishing us with an

       6      8-hour day overtime is unrealistic.

       7             Even a 40-hour workweek is heavily

       8      restrictive for overtime.

       9             We're done packing and shipping our apples,

      10      which means that our weekly influx of checks from

      11      our distributor are just about over, but our bills

      12      don't stop.

      13             We have spray bills.

      14             We have to pay the electric for the housing

      15      for those 30 employees and their 20 children.

      16             We have general upkeep of the orchard.

      17             We still have to payroll.

      18             We are on a tight budget, and if we had to

      19      make a 40-hour overtime right now, we would be

      20      forced to cap our employees at 38 hours just to be

      21      safe.

      22             But what happens, if, like what happened this

      23      morning?

      24             When I left this morning, my grandfather and

      25      one of our senior managers were working at digging


       1      up a septic tank because someone in the seasonal

       2      housing had clearly been dumping grease down their

       3      kitchen drain all season, and it finally congealed

       4      enough to block some septic for some of the

       5      year-round employees.

       6             We need his help.

       7             My 83-year-old grandfather cannot dig up a

       8      septic tank by himself.

       9             But, if we had to pay our senior manager,

      10      who's been there for over 25 years, to do that

      11      overtime, we would be in dire straits.

      12             There's no -- I'm sorry.

      13             Right now, with just the payroll we have

      14      right now, this bill would cost us over $800,000,

      15      because there is a way to calculate what the

      16      overtime would cost.

      17             We would have extra workmen's (sic) comp, we

      18      would have extra insurance, we would everything to

      19      pay for, and we probably wouldn't be able to afford

      20      to bring up the H-2A employees that we normally do.

      21             I'm the fourth-generation on my family farm.

      22             I graduated from Cornell 2011 with a degree

      23      in agricultural sciences.

      24             I'm the chair of the New York Apple

      25      Association, the chair of the New York Farm Bureau


       1      Labor Committee.  I sit on the board of directors

       2      for the Hudson Valley Research Lab, and I'm the

       3      secretary of my county farm bureau.

       4             We all own family businesses, because most of

       5      New York farms are family-owned and operated, for

       6      now.

       7             As this bill stands, we will either be

       8      eliminated or we will have to create those so-called

       9      "corporate farms" that people so greatly fear.

      10             Either way, this could be the demise of the

      11      New York family farm, and with it, the upstate

      12      economy.

      13             I would like to conclude with a quote from

      14      President Dwight Eisenhower from 1956.

      15             "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is

      16      a pencil and you're a thousand miles away from the

      17      cornfield."

      18             Thank you.

      19             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      20             Questions?

      21             SENATOR RAMOS:  Thank you.

      22             Thanks so much.

      23                [Applause.]

      24             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next is

      25      Reverend Richard Witt, followed by Roberto Herrera.


       1             And if Beatrice Stern could please come up.

       2             REVEREND RICHARD WITT:  Senators, thank you

       3      for this the opportunity to speak before you today.

       4             My name is Richard Witt, and I am an

       5      Episcopal priest, and I have served as executive

       6      director of Rural Migrant Ministries since 1991.

       7             The ministry is an upstate organization that

       8      works with hundreds of farmworkers and their

       9      families.

      10             The task of the New York State Senate in

      11      deciding the future of the Farmworker (sic) Fair

      12      Labor Practices Act is not an easy one, but the path

      13      before you is clear.

      14             The children, women, and men who labor on our

      15      farms have the inherent and unalienable right to

      16      equality.

      17             Every generation before us has found a way to

      18      deny these basic human rights, utilizing an array of

      19      justifications.

      20             At first glance, the roots of this injustice

      21      can be found in historic racism, as we have heard

      22      through many testimonies.

      23             The basis of opposition for the equal

      24      treatment of farmworkers, however, has been and

      25      continues to be economic.


       1             We have built an agricultural system in this

       2      state that depends upon the use of subjugated labor.

       3             Many of us recoil at such a description, as

       4      it offends our sense of propriety and our sense of

       5      self, and yet here are the facts:

       6             We have written into law in New York State

       7      that farmworkers shall be exempted from the rights

       8      afforded others;

       9             And, two, almost all farmworkers in New York

      10      are brown-skinned and poor.

      11             To protect their interests throughout our

      12      history, and even today, farmers have had greater

      13      access to our ear.

      14             We go to church with them.

      15             They sit on our town boards.

      16             They speak our language and share our mores.

      17             We run into them in our CSAs and our farmers'

      18      markets.

      19             Their voices are magnified through the

      20      powerful Farm Bureau and Cornell's College of

      21      Agriculture and Cooperative Extension, and countless

      22      other organizations.

      23             I have listened to the voices of the farmers

      24      throughout these hearings and they appear to be good

      25      people.


       1             I can't imagine a bad person would come and

       2      testify, though one farmer who did testify had in

       3      their employ people who were convicted of

       4      enslavement of workers.

       5             Tragically, the voices of the workers are not

       6      a part of the fabric of our communities, nor part of

       7      our consciousness.

       8             Many are temporarily residing in our

       9      communities, many don't speak the same language,

      10      they don't know our community, or find that they are

      11      not welcome, except to work.

      12             They work long hours, so they can't

      13      participate in town meetings, school functions, and

      14      community dinners.

      15             By and large, they have not been able to be

      16      present and testify at these hearings, save for

      17      those who have been dragged in by their bosses.

      18             Thus, when we are faced with making decisions

      19      about their well-being, their future, and their

      20      livelihood, as you are, Senators, it becomes all the

      21      more easy to hear only one side of the discussion.

      22             That one side would have you focus on the

      23      personal plight of farmers, and ignore the historic

      24      and systemic and personal plight of the thousands of

      25      men, women, and children who farmwork.


       1             That one side would tell you there is only

       2      one way to work things out, and that is not to pass

       3      this bill.

       4             That one side would have the audacity to

       5      speak for the workers and tell you that the workers

       6      will suffer if there is justice.

       7             These hearings appear to come down to a

       8      simple and personable argument laid out by the

       9      farmers and the agricultural industry:  We cannot

      10      afford to have a just system.

      11             To accept the belief that we cannot afford to

      12      give farmworkers equal treatment under law is also

      13      to say that the agricultural industry has a

      14      different moral agency which allows it to claim

      15      different relationships to workers than the rest of

      16      New York.

      17             What gives the industry this moral

      18      difference?

      19             Are farmers different than the family who

      20      owns the local diner, or the ones who own the corner

      21      market, or the family who runs the ag-and-feed

      22      store, all of whom I'm sure would welcome the

      23      opportunity to be excluded from having to pay

      24      overtime and disability insurance.

      25             Senators, you have arrived at a point in


       1      history that rests on the legacy of shame.

       2             You have the power to change the arc of

       3      history and create a harvest of hope.

       4             I urge you to pass the Farmworker (sic) Fair

       5      Labor Practices Act.

       6                [Applause.]

       7             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

       8             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next is Roberto Herrera.

       9             And if Beatrice Stern and Shannon Kelly could

      10      please both come up to the stage.

      11             (Ari Mir Pontier now translating Spanish to

      12      English/English to Spanish on behalf of

      13      Roberto Herrera.)

      14             ROBERTO HERRERA:  (Speaking Spanish, English

      15      translation.)

      16             Good afternoon.

      17             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      18             I appreciate the opportunity to be here.

      19             I'm an H-2A employee.

      20             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      21             I am a farmworker that maintain vegetables so

      22      that others can enjoy them.

      23             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      24             I'm very happy to work for the company that

      25      I work for now.


       1             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       2             My employer and my co-workers are a great

       3      team.

       4             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       5             I came here to share my opinion about the law

       6      that you wish to implement.

       7             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       8             For me, it would be like cutting off my

       9      hands.

      10             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      11             Because I explain to you --

      12             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      13             -- if we work 40 hours and our boss has to

      14      pay overtime --

      15             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      16             -- he would need to find other workers to

      17      keep up with the work.

      18             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      19             They would remove my hours and the money that

      20      I need for my family in Mexico.

      21             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      22             If this legislation is passed --

      23             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      24             -- I would have to find another form of work

      25      in another state.


       1             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       2             I feel very happy with my employer.

       3             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       4             They give us a beautiful home.

       5             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       6             They provide transportation so that we can go

       7      to the store to buy what we need.

       8             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       9             Would simply like to beg you --

      10             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      11             -- that you analyze this possibility --

      12             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      13             -- because those affected would be us as

      14      employees.

      15             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      16             That is all.

      17             Thank you very much, and think about it.

      18                [Applause.]

      19             SENATOR METZGER:  Gracias.

      20             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is Beatrice Stern,

      21      followed by Shannon Kelly.

      22             And if Jesus Lorenzo Robles could please come

      23      up.

      24             BEATRICE STERN:  Hi, my name is

      25      Beatrice Stern.


       1             Thank you for this opportunity.

       2             I live in Orange County, New York, where my

       3      grandfather was a dairy farmer.

       4             Please note that I'm testifying today as an

       5      individual; however, it is through my work that I've

       6      learned about agriculture and food-system change

       7      over the last several years.

       8             I'm president of a private family foundation,

       9      and one of our areas of interest has to do with land

      10      rights, food sovereignty, and food-system change,

      11      and we've supported numerous local, national, and

      12      international groups who are working in this area.

      13             In 2014 I became deeply involved in the

      14      founding of the Chester Agricultural Center in

      15      Orange County, an organization set up to provide

      16      affordable access to "Black Dirt" farmland for

      17      beginning organic farmers.

      18             In addition, our mission is to increase

      19      diversity among farming, and create opportunities

      20      for underrepresented groups to enter the farming

      21      business.

      22             We are now beginning our fifth growing

      23      season, and I've learned an enormous amount from our

      24      farmers and partners about issues facing small

      25      farmers in Orange County and throughout the


       1      Hudson Valley.

       2             In addition, through this work, I've been

       3      part of many meetings, national and local, having --

       4      and organizations that have to do with farming.

       5             So suffice it to say, that I'm an advocate

       6      for farming, particularly for small farms, and

       7      building strong local food systems.

       8             And that is why I am testifying today in

       9      support of the Farmworker (sic) Fair Labor Practices

      10      Act.

      11             For many reasons, we should all be working

      12      toward building a robust, resilient, and equitable

      13      local food system in New York.

      14             As we look toward how to best address climate

      15      change, small farms, regenerative practices, and

      16      local markets are the best way to overcome

      17      environmental damage from industrial agriculture.

      18             Many farms in New York are small and are

      19      using sustainable practices that are good for soil,

      20      water, and health.

      21             So how is it that so many of us in New York

      22      cannot afford fresh, healthy food?

      23             And how is it that farmers, particularly

      24      small farmers, are in such a precarious financial

      25      situation that they see this bill as a threat to


       1      their livelihoods?

       2             And how is it that we have somehow normalized

       3      a system that excludes farmworkers from fundamental

       4      labor protection under the law?

       5             And how is it that racial diversity that

       6      exists in our farming system is so often overlooked,

       7      and I would say, very much linked to the fact that

       8      our farm labor is excluded from protection under the

       9      law, and really becomes an invisible but completely,

      10      you know, very important part of the system?

      11             So, obviously, we have a broken system, and

      12      there is much work to be done.

      13             That being said, I'm really -- it's painful

      14      to hear over and over again that farmers will go

      15      under if this bill is passed.

      16             Farmers are in a very precarious situation,

      17      but the system must truly be broken if farmers

      18      themselves are scared of providing their

      19      farmworkers, who are the backbone of our

      20      agricultural system, these basic protections under

      21      the law.

      22             In my opinion, nothing will improve for

      23      farmers, or certainly farmworkers, or even

      24      consumers, if this bill does not pass.

      25             Year after year, farmworkers have borne the


       1      burden of helping sustain, even subsidizing, this

       2      broken system.

       3             And every year there is an outcry against

       4      this bill perpetuating the same system.

       5             Nothing is changing.

       6             Farmers are, for the most part, an invisible

       7      part of our food system.  The reasons behind this

       8      are complex, but their exclusion from normal

       9      protection under New York law is a factor keeping

      10      farm laborers apart and out of the system, and

      11      promotes the paternalistic relationships that we see

      12      on so many farms where farmworkers are dependent on

      13      the beneficence of farm owners.

      14             This is not right and it's not sustainable.

      15             In order to change the food system for the

      16      better, we need to understand how agriculture really

      17      works and who is growing our food.

      18             We cannot make things better for our farm

      19      owners by continuing to exclude farmworkers from

      20      labor laws.  They deserve equal protection under the

      21      law.

      22             Passing this act, I believe, is a necessary

      23      first step in creating a more equitable food system

      24      for everyone in this state.

      25             I think you've probably seen throughout the


       1      hearing process that farmers are pretty good

       2      advocates.

       3             Wouldn't it be great to let farmers advocate

       4      for the support they really need to thrive, instead

       5      of having to focus, year after year, thinking that

       6      blocking this bill will help keep them solvent for

       7      one more season.

       8             Let's create the conditions for real change

       9      in our food system by passing this law.

      10                [Applause.]

      11             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      12             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Shannon Kelly, followed by

      13      Jesus Lorenzo Robles.

      14             And if Morse Pitts could please come up.

      15             SHANNON KELLY:  Good evening, and thank you

      16      for the opportunity to testify on this important

      17      legislative issue facing our state.

      18             My name is Shannon Kelly, and I'm the chief

      19      operating officer for Catholic Charities of Orange,

      20      Sullivan, and Ulster.

      21             As one of the human-service agencies of

      22      Catholic Charities of the Arch Diocese of New York,

      23      our agency is committed to building a compassionate

      24      and just society.

      25             Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and


       1      Ulster serves the homeless, hungry, those with

       2      emotional and physical disabilities, as well as

       3      immigrants, marginalized and vulnerable, of the

       4      tri-county region.

       5             Last year we served more than

       6      42,000 individuals regardless of race, religion,

       7      or the ability to pay.

       8             I speak today on behalf of our regional

       9      agency, as well as for Catholic Charities agencies

      10      across New York State, and in solidarity with the

      11      New York State Catholic Conference which represents

      12      the Catholic bishops of New York State.

      13             Catholic Charities and the Catholic

      14      Conference have been advocating for the passage of

      15      the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act for more

      16      than two decades.

      17             At the same time, the church has been working

      18      on the ground to meet the spiritual, material, needs

      19      of farmworkers and their families, through Catholic

      20      Charities, Catholic parishes, and individual clergy,

      21      religious and lay.

      22             It is through this lens that I deliver my

      23      remarks today.

      24             Let me begin by making one thing clear:

      25      Support for basic rights for farmworkers is not


       1      anti-farmer, at least it need not be.

       2             Our organization serves farm families and

       3      farmworkers alike.

       4             We are in this community, and we are well

       5      aware of the unique nature of farming, and the

       6      challenges facing farmers from the uncontrollable

       7      weather factors, to the pressures of modern economy,

       8      injuries, the high cost of maintenance, distribution

       9      of perishable product, and competition from foreign

      10      markets.

      11             We need our family farms for our local

      12      economy, and for our very subsistence.

      13             But at the same time, just as farming has

      14      evolved technologically, it must also evolve to a

      15      twenty-first-century understanding of fair working

      16      conditions for farmworkers.

      17             We must ensure that farmworkers are treated

      18      humanely and with dignity.

      19             I think we've heard from a lot of farms today

      20      that do that.

      21             And in the same way, we work to ensure that

      22      other workers of our state are treated.

      23             This is not about putting farmworkers ahead

      24      of farms.  You can't support the farmworker without

      25      supporting the farms, and vice versa.  Both need and


       1      depend on the other.

       2             Justice and human dignity demand, however,

       3      that changes come to the industry in terms of worker

       4      treatment.

       5             It is important to remember that farmworkers

       6      do not seek special rights.  They seek only the same

       7      rights guaranteed to workers in every other sector:

       8      the right to overtime pay, the right to a day of

       9      rest a week, the right to worker compensation, the

      10      right to sanitary housing conditions, and the right

      11      to collectively bargain.

      12             We hear and appreciate the concerns of those

      13      who argue that providing fair treatment to this

      14      population will raise prices for consumers, but can

      15      we truly make the -- we can truly make the same case

      16      about any other sector of the workforce, and we do

      17      not allow that from stopping us to doing what is

      18      right.

      19             If New York is truly the progressive state

      20      that we say we are, how do we justify this continued

      21      unfair playing field?

      22             We can't -- we have an opportunity, we must

      23      grab the chance, and not let it slip away yet again.

      24             I hope and pray that the Legislature will

      25      work collaboratively with farmworkers and family


       1      farms to create meaningful reform this year, one

       2      that recognizes the unique contributions of our

       3      farmers and the human dignity of our farmworkers.

       4             Thank you again for the opportunity to speak.

       5             SENATOR METZGER:  Thanks so much, Shannon.

       6             LESLIE BERLIANT:  Next up is

       7      Jesus Lorenzo Robles.

       8             (Ari Mir Pontier now translating Spanish

       9      to English/English to Spanish on behalf of

      10      Jesus Lorenzo Robles.)

      11             JESUS LORENZO ROBLES:  (Speaking Spanish,

      12      English translation.)

      13             My name is Jesus Lorenzo Robles.

      14             I work at Gade Ranch for 12 years.

      15             I like this ranch.

      16             I have great friends.

      17             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      18             They give us a house.  We have privacy.  We

      19      have a kitchen and a living room.

      20             (Speaking Spanish.)

      21             ARI MIR PONTIER:  He talks a lot faster than

      22      me.

      23             I'm sorry.

      24             (Speaking Spanish.)

      25             SENATOR METZGER:  It's late in the day.


       1             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       2             I live with three men from my town and we get

       3      along very well.

       4             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       5             My American employers appreciate us and we

       6      get along well.

       7             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       8             We come for 7 to 8 months to work and, with

       9      40 hours, it would not be enough.

      10             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      11             They give us cable.

      12             We have our own room.

      13             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      14             They don't treat us badly, and they take us

      15      where we need to go.

      16             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      17             For me, it would be very sad to leave the

      18      ranch if they don't give me more than 40 hours.

      19             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      20             We regularly work 50 to 70 hours every week,

      21      so it would not be good.

      22             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

      23             I'm one of those that came here to work, and

      24      we're good people, and we just want to make money

      25      for our families.


       1             (Speaking Spanish, English translation.)

       2             And I am opposed to this.

       3             Gracias.

       4                (Senator Ramos and Mr. Robles converse in

       5        Spanish, with no English translation.)

       6             SENATOR RAMOS:  Gracias.

       7             SENATOR METZGER:  Gracias.

       8                [Applause.]

       9             LESLIE BERLIANT:  And our last speaker is

      10      Morse Pitts.

      11             SENATOR RAMOS:  But not least.

      12             MORSE PITTS:  We shall see.

      13             So I got to listen to this whole thing, so

      14      I'm going to try to answer a couple of questions

      15      that I've been jumping out of my seat, trying to

      16      say, "isn't that obvious?"

      17             Because one of the big questions was, how do

      18      you operate as a loss?

      19             And my answer is, it's a farm.

      20             You know, that's the definition.

      21             How can you not know that farms operate at a

      22      loss?

      23             And I want to start -- I'll try to be quick,

      24      but, to say -- there was also a question, what can

      25      we actually do to help farms?


       1             I want to tell you what you've actually done

       2      for mine.

       3             Between New York State and a whole bunch of

       4      other organizations, American Farmland Trust, seeing

       5      the cuts in Orange County land trust, equity trust,

       6      and GrowNYC, I get to keep my farm for as long as

       7      I can because you helped preserve it.

       8             But, I'm one of 100 farms that needs this

       9      help.

      10             That's what you've already done to help.

      11             Please do 100 times more of it, then you

      12      might get to keep farms.

      13             But the second thing that allow a farm to

      14      operate at a loss, is farms work -- farmers work

      15      infinite hours for no pay.

      16             And I'm getting old, and there's this thing

      17      called "law of diminishing returns."

      18             I can't keep doing this.

      19             I'm trying to pass my farm on to the people

      20      that work there, and to new farmers.

      21             But as they realize this means no more wage,

      22      but lots of debt and risk and liability, and endless

      23      paperwork, taxes, and insurance, they go, Oh, we

      24      can't do this right away.

      25             Please don't pass this law.


       1             It's just another nail in the coffin of being

       2      able to employ people on a farm.

       3             My farm is preserved.  I can work there the

       4      rest of my life and be happy.

       5             But I can't employ people, paying them more

       6      than the farm can produce.

       7             I tried to scratch out most of the things

       8      I wanted to say because I know this is a long day

       9      and we're at the end time.

      10             But something else you could do, is if you

      11      can find a way to regulate imported food into

      12      New York more than you regulate food grown in

      13      New York, it would be fantastic.

      14             It's just, like, it's cheaper to grow apples

      15      in China.

      16             And New York State apple farmers, a lot of

      17      whom are my friends -- and I just want to say one

      18      thing.

      19             One of my friends who testified here didn't

      20      say, when she started when her farm, she and her

      21      husband felt, like, farmworkers get 5 cents a bushel

      22      to pick apples.  That's ridiculous.  We're going to

      23      pay them 50 cents a bushel.

      24             At the end of their first season, they were

      25      deep in debt, and went, Oh, my God.  That's why


       1      they're only paid 5 cents a bushel.

       2             And two more little quick things:

       3             Farm labor is not unskilled labor.

       4             If you can find somebody that can do this

       5      work on your farm, you pay them as much as you

       6      possibly can to try to keep them there.

       7             And that's something else about farms people

       8      don't understand.

       9             And the last thing I decided I needed to say

      10      is, this law would be great if it provided a minimum

      11      wage for farmers as well as farmworkers.

      12             If you can find a way to do that, I'm on

      13      board, the people that work on my farm are on board;

      14      we're all on board.

      15             But just forcing the farmer to pay more money

      16      and not be able to farm is not a solution.

      17             And thanks very much for listening.

      18             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      19             MORSE PITTS:  And aren't you glad I'm the

      20      last one?

      21                [Laughter.]

      22                [Applause.]

      23             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you very much.

      24             So I just want to thank all of you for coming

      25      and staying this afternoon.


       1             I really, really, want to express my deep

       2      appreciation to the farmers and the farmworkers who

       3      came here.

       4             You know, a number of the farms that --

       5      farmers that testified today, you know, they're

       6      families -- farm families from my neck of the woods,

       7      that I've been -- you know, I've been a parent along

       8      with them.  Our kids go to school together.

       9             I eat their food.  I go to their farm stands.

      10             And now I'm representing a much larger

      11      community of farmers, the entire state of New York.

      12             But I wanted to be the chair of the

      13      Agriculture Committee because I know how important

      14      farming is to my community.

      15             I know how important it is to strong --

      16      keeping, create -- making sure we have strong

      17      communities in rural New York.

      18             I'm a lifelong environmentalist, and I know

      19      how important it is for us to keep a small -- a

      20      diverse farming economy in New York, and an economy

      21      in which we can feed ourselves.

      22             I'm also a lifelong fighter for workers'

      23      rights.

      24             And, you know, it's this -- it's not -- the

      25      world -- this is not a black-and-white situation.


       1      You know, it's a very nuanced situation.

       2             And these hearings have been -- you know,

       3      have been exactly what I wanted them to be, which

       4      was -- which was, you know, to really hear from

       5      everyone, just, the challenges that people face,

       6      everyone, on a daily basis; the opportunities we

       7      have, so that we can all work together,

       8      collaboratively, with all the information we need on

       9      this legislation.

      10             I want to express some real gratitude to my

      11      colleague Senator Ramos for holding these hearings

      12      with me, and for -- she's been going out and

      13      meeting, going to visit farms.

      14             And even though she's from the city, she's

      15      been getting out there and doing the work that you

      16      have to do when you're considering this kind of

      17      legislation.

      18             We also -- I want to thank Senator Mayer and

      19      our other Senators.

      20             We had a great turnout, actually, for this

      21      hearing.

      22             It's hard at this time of year for

      23      legislators to make this kind of time, because

      24      they're -- they have face-competing demands.

      25             So, I really appreciate that.


       1             And, thank you for being here.

       2             I don't know if, Senator Ramos, if you would

       3      like to say a few words.

       4             SENATOR RAMOS:  Sure, very quickly.

       5             I, of course, also want to thank everyone who

       6      testified, and even those who attended but didn't

       7      testify, for participating in our hearing, for

       8      hearing everybody else out.

       9             I can tell you that your testimonies will be

      10      taken into consideration as we move the bill

      11      forward.

      12             I appreciate the stories of the farmers and

      13      how hard you work.

      14             I've often shared that I do come from a

      15      farming family.

      16             My parents are from Colombia in

      17      South America, where my mom's parents and my mom's

      18      siblings and many of my cousins still farm coffee to

      19      this day, and we raise pigs and chickens and all

      20      sorts of things.

      21             And so that was a big part of my childhood

      22      during summer vacation.

      23             And it was there that I began to have an

      24      interest in where our food comes from, and why, and

      25      what that ecosystem actually looks like.


       1             So, as the Senate Labor Chair, it's quite an

       2      honor to carry this bill.

       3             I look forward to working with everyone to

       4      ensure its passage in a way, again, that is fiscally

       5      prudent.

       6             Everyone who comes to testify in the past

       7      three hearings are, of course, excellent employers

       8      by their own volition.

       9             And all we're looking to do is to ensure that

      10      these rights are codified in a way that it is law,

      11      so that there is no confusion as to how a farmworker

      12      deserves to be treated in the state of New York.

      13             Thank you.

      14                [Applause.]

      15             SENATOR METZGER:  Thank you.

      16             And I just want to, if anyone in the audience

      17      didn't get a chance to speak, but wants to give

      18      testimony -- written testimony, we're accepting

      19      testimony until end of day tomorrow.

      20             Thank you.

      21                (Whereupon, at approximately 4:03 p.m.,

      22        the joint committee public hearing concluded, and

      23        adjourned.)


      25                           ---oOo---