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Farmworks Legislation Should Be Part Of 2020 Budget Talks

Opposition to the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act by the Rural Democratic Conference should be a sign to Democrats throughout the rest of the state Legislature to let the controversial farm legislation wait until the next legislative session.

Members of the Democratic Rural Conference, which represents 47 of New York’s 62 counties, signalled their opposition Friday to the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act because the law doesn’t reflect the reality of agriculture in New York state. DRC officials advocate for taking the legislation up as part of the budget in 2020.

The DRC’s stance makes sense. Many farmers in counties that comprise the Democratic Rural Conference stand to be hurt by the legislation. The number of farms in Chautauqua County has decreased by 19 percent over the past five years, with small farms going out of business and being absorbed into bigger farms. Total farm acres have also declined 5 percent over the past five years. Farmers are already having to diversify from prior cash crops to make ends meet.

This isn’t an atmosphere conducive to lumping additional costs onto a struggling industry. Democratic Rural Conference members have come to that realization. Their fellow Democrats in the state Legislature should follow their lead.

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