Friday, February 8, 2013

Asssemblyman Wants Study of Minimum Wage Increase Effect on Agriculture

This was taken from Assemblyman Robert Oaks' Facebook page:

Assemblyman Robert Oaks (R,C-Macedon) has written to New York State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Darrel Aubertine, asking him to begin analyzing how a proposed raise in the minimum wage will impact the agricultural industry in New York State.
The assemblyman was surprised to learn during the Feb. 4, 2013 state budget hearing that, in spite of supporting a higher minimum wage, the department could not speak to the effect it would have on farming enterprises, particularly marginal operations.

The text of the letter, sent on February 6, 2013, follows.

“On February 4, 2013, I was present to hear First Deputy Agriculture Commissioner James Bays testify during the hearing on the Department of Agriculture and Markets’ spending plan for the next year. While there are many positives included for New York’s number one industry in the budget as proposed by Gov. Cuomo, I would like to share a concern that was raised during the testimony.

“I asked Mr. Bays if Ag and Markets had done an analysis on how an increase to the minimum wage would impact the agriculture industry in New York State. He replied that the agency has not, that it was something that needed to be “zeroed in on.” Mr. Bays indicated, however, that Ag and Markets does support raising the minimum wage because it would be more in line with the cost of living and it would stimulate spending.

“For agricultural businesses and other concerns in my district and across the state, a higher minimum wage would mean increased costs. It could very well put New York’s farmers at a disadvantage and cause marginal agricultural operations to be placed in great peril.

“Jeff Williams of the New York Farm Bureau also testified at the hearing, and expressed strong concerns with the impact the minimum wage increase would have on agriculture in the state. He was especially worried about the impact the increase would have on youth training programs. Should the minimum wage be increased, he proposed a “training wage” that would allow individuals under the age of 18 to work for a reduced wage while learning basic job skills, while they worked their way into minimum wage.
 "In that light, I would urge the Department of Agriculture and Markets to immediately undertake an analysis as to determine how a higher minimum wage would affect the many different entities involved in New York's agricultural industry. It may also be an opportunity for the department to explore the alternative option of a starting or training wage as proposed by the New York Farm Bureau."

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