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New York Farm Bureau Hosts Successful Lobby Days

ALBANY, NY - More than 200 New York Farm Bureau members visited Albany on March 2 and 3, to discuss NYFB’s state priorities and engage with lawmakers as part of the organization’s annual Taste of NY Reception and Lobby Day.

The major issues discussed included asking the legislature to fully support the funding of agricultural programs in the New York State budget as well as critical offsets to the recently enacted Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act. This includes a refundable investment tax credit for farms and the doubling of the agricultural workforce tax credit. In addition, NYFB members are asking for two fixes to the farm labor law, which includes expanding the definition of a family farm so family members like aunts, uncles, and in-laws can be exempt from the new labor regulations.  NYFB is also seeking to alter language in the farm labor law to properly recognize that farms have professional level employees, including farm managers, who should continue to receive salaried wages.

Another major farm labor issue includes the rollout of the wage board hearings over the next two months. The three-person panel that includes NYFB President David Fisher is listening to the public on whether the brand new 60-hour overtime threshold for farmworkers should be lowered. NYFB members believe it is way too soon to make that decision with very little data on the law’s impact just 60 days into the law’s implementation.  A growing season hasn’t even started to gauge how farms will absorb the uncompetitive, higher labor costs and reduced hours for individual employees. Members expressed their concerns with lawmakers and agency officials.

In addition, NYFB members advocated for lawmakers to support the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation as the sole regulator of pesticides in New York State, and the organization is also supportive of the Governor’s proposal to increase the farmworker housing loan fund to $15 million to assist farms in building new housing on farms.

NYFB’s lobby days kicked off with the hugely popular Taste of NY Reception in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. Hundreds of senators and assembly members, agency officials and staff attended Monday evening’s event. More than 80 booths representing county Farm Bureaus and agricultural organizations from across the state featured New York grown and produced food and beverages. This was a wonderful opportunity for members to engage with decisions makers in a fun, social event.

“This is a pivotal time for agriculture. Our farms continue to face regulatory and labor pressures that are making it increasingly difficult to farm in this state. Our members turned out in a big way this week to make the case that New York needs a vital farm economy. Our reception and member visits showcased the rich diversity of New York agriculture and the exciting possibilities that are unique to our state, but if we don’t take care of our farms, those opportunities will be lost. The real losers will be more than our farm families and employees, but also our communities and our customers who value locally produced food,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.