Farming group at odds with Cuomo over lawsuit

May 16, 2016

Despite his claims of support for agriculture, many New York farmers believe Governor Cuomo is supporting policies that will hurt their industry.

The New York Farm Bureau released a statement expressing its "disappointment" in Governor Cuomo's stance on lawsuit which seeks collective bargaining rights for farm workers.

Last week, the governor expressed his support of a lawsuit from the New York Civil Liberties Union which seeks to allow farm workers to organize and collectively bargain for improved wages and conditions.

The New York Farm Bureau issued a statement that it is "extremely disappointed" in Cuomo's stance.

"It should be pointed out that the governor has continuously praised the dairy industry and agriculture in general publicly for the good jobs that they create," said Farm Bureau spokesman Steve Ammerman.

From a farmers perspective, organized workers could make it difficult to operate effectively in an industry that is often impacted by Mother Nature. A job action where employees walked off the job could put livestock at risk or hinder completing a harvest in timely fashion.

According to Ammerman, New York farmers produce $6 billion in products on an annual basis. It's an industry that faces unique challenges.

"The average age is around 58-years-old for a farmer in New York State and it's getting older," he explained. 

"Because there are so many challenges for young people to get into farming or beginning farmers who may not have farmed in the past or don't have a farm that's transitioned through the family, it's difficult to get the capital, it's difficult to get land. Even the technical skills of how to farm can be a challenge."

The Farm Bureau also opposed the state's recent increase in minimum wage.