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Farmers say new labor law is forcing changes in how they do business

Feb 19, 2020 12:15 pm
Judy Rife is reporting for the Times Herald-Record Hudson Valley farmers are changing how much they grow and what they grow in order in response to the requirements imposed by the state's new farm labor law. They are doing everything they can to avoid paying workers overtime, one of the law's mandates they say they cannot afford. “It’s going to be a transition year,″ said Alex Kocot, co-owner of Harvest Queen Farms in Orange County. Kocot has already decided he will no longer grow salad greens because it is a labor-intensive crop and can easily push a crew into overtime. Instead he will concentrate on onions and soybeans. "There's no labor with soybeans; I’ve got the equipment to plant them myself, harvest them myself,” he said. Other farmers will shrink the size of their farms, cutting back on the volume of some crops and with some abandoning fields and orchards. The transition was made more difficult due to the confusion over some of the law's mandates. It remains unclear if extended family members and supervisors are subject to the law and about whether the scheduled day of rest for workers has to be the same day every week or can be any day in seven. The changes could result in local farms reducing their footprint in New York City markets, a way Hudson Valley farmers have expanded their business over the years. Read the full story at PoughkeepsieJournal [dot] com.
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