BATH | Members of the Steuben County Legislature spoke out vehemently Monday against a proposed state law that would extend labor protections to farm workers.
“[Gov. Andrew Cuomo] is trying to eliminate as many dairy farms as possible,” said Legislator Robert Nichols, R-Addison.
Nichols said the Democrat-dominated state government is going beyond what’s in place for farm workers elsewhere in the country.
“Other states are not doing this,” he told the Legislature.
Legislature Chairman Joseph Hauryski said the new rules would “devastate New York agriculture.”
And Legislator Aaron Mullen, R-Avoca, noted that farms are already declining in the state even without the new rules.
The state Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act would extend the ability to form unions to farm laborers, as well as overtime pay and unemployment benefits.
Opponents of the act, including the state Farm Bureau, charge the proposal would impose statewide annual costs of $300 million on farmers.
Nichols said he believes smaller farms would be forced to shut down under the proposal.
“On the larger farms, you’ll see robots,” he said, as increased labor costs drive automation.
Copies of the resolution opposing the law will be forwarded to the governor’s office and to key state lawmakers.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the Legislature authorized the Steuben County Sheriff to accept a donation of a K-9 from the Devin Snyder Memorial Fund.
The donation will allow the sheriff’s department to enlist a Belgian Malinois, Twiggy, to fill a position left by the retirement of longtime K-9 Devin.
The fund honors the memory of U.S. Army Sgt. Devin K. Snyder, who died June 4, 2011 as a result of a roadside bomb while she was on patrol in Laghman Province, Afghanistan.
The Legislature also authorized the Director of Emergency Management to enter into an intermunicipal agreement between Steuben and Livingston counties to improve emergency communications in that region.