Burlington, VT, Apr 09, 2012 — The dairy industry in Northern New York and Vermont relies heavily on migrant labor. A lot of the farm workers are undocumented. That causes problems when the workers have to do simple tasks that involve driving, like going to the grocery store or visiting the doctor. But Vermont legislators are discussing a bill that may change that. Sarah Harris reports. Go to full article
Aug 05, 2010 — The New York Farm Bureau says its members are relieved at a last minute state Senate "no" vote on a bill that would have granted certain labor rights to farm workers.
Farm Bureau President Dean Norton says the bill would have had a devastating effect on farms and the rural economy. The bill was defeated 31-28 in the Senate. The Assembly has passed many versions of the bill over the years, but it has yet to pass the Senate.
The bill was a sticking point as budget negotiations stalled this spring. And it came into play again in the political gamesmanship Tuesday.
Sen. Pedro Espada, a Bronx Democrat, had refused to come to Albany unless the farm workers rights legislation was brought to the floor. Sen. Darrell Aubertine, Democrat from Cape Vincent and chairmen of the Senate Agriculture Committee said, "that was the majority leader flexing his political muscle," and it didn't work. Martha Foley has more. Go to full article
Cape Vincent, NY, Mar 16, 2010 — The New York State Senate is considering a controversial measure that would give more legal rights to New York farm workers. The bill would allow farm laborers to unionize more easily. It would also guarantee workers at least one day of rest each week and provide for overtime pay.
The bill has strong backing from a variety of labor, immigrant and religious groups, including New York's State Catholic Conference. But the bill is broadly panned in upstate agricultural areas. It's vehemently opposed by the New York Farm Bureau, which says it would quote --cripple -- New York agriculture. Upstate lawmakers from both parties are against it.
Opposition in the state Senate is led by Darrel Aubertine, a Democrat from a long line of Jefferson County dairy farmers. He made his case yesterday on The Capitol Pressroom, a daily program produced by public radio station WCNY. Martha Foley has more. Go to full article
Jun 08, 2007 — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insists an immigration overhaul is not dead, although he has pulled the bill. Farm Bureau leaders see a glimmer of hope there for New York farmers. Not enough senators voted yesterday to limit debate and speed the compromise bill's passage, prompting Reid to pull it from the floor. He says he looks forward to passing the bill, but a crowded Senate calendar complicates its prospects. New York's two senators voted for the bill. Increasingly, New York crop and dairy farmers rely on workers from central America and Mexico. New York Farm Bureau President John Lincoln, a Rochester area farmer, joined other advocates in Washington last week to lobby for the cpmpromise. The bill's failure last night surprised Bob Hokansen, national affairs coordinator of the New York Farm Bureau. He told Martha Foley the Farm Bureau will keep working. Go to full article
Jan 15, 2007 — More and more American farms are employing workers from Mexico and Central America. Even as far north and east as the North Country -- the number of Mexican and Central Americans working on dairy farms has risen dramatically. Industry leaders agree farms depend on reliable, plentiful Hispanic labor to survive.
A group of New York farmers is in the Veracruz area this week, hoping to learn more about traditional farming, local customs and life in their workers villages. Workers who come this far usually leave their families behind, and plan to return home.
A North Country dairy farm might employ a half dozen Mexican farmhands. But crop farming requires much more help, and the demand rises and falls with the planting and harvesting. During the growing season, nearly 300 workers and their children live in migrant camps around the K. W. Zellers family farm in rural northeast Ohio. Julie Grant spent some time at the Zellers' farm this fall. Go to full article