Blankenbush: Protect Our Struggling Farmers

Today, Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C,I-Black River) cosigned on to a letter to Gov. Cuomo requesting that the Farm Laborers Wage Board wait in recommending any changes for New York farmers until growing season data can be accurately compiled. The letter implored the governor to take COVID-19 effects into consideration, along with data until 2022.

After months of distribution problems and worker shortages due to coronavirus restrictions, the New York farming industry has many concerns. The implementation of a lowered overtime threshold, below 60 hours weekly, is considered too early. Unknown variables, such as weather and commodity price changes, were instead argued to be measured on a year-to-year basis to impact labor costs.

“As someone in a district that houses many dairy farms, I am fully aware of the work that farmers put into planting and harvesting,” said Blankenbush. “Without looking at full growing seasons of differing crops into the 2022 season, the decision to lower the threshold would be a complete overstep. We must look out for our farming communities and understand that food supply is contingent upon farmers’ success, and labor costs over a certain period must also be a factor when deciding whether or not to make changes dependent on the new Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act.”

A copy of the letter is attached.