By Dale Stein, Stein Farms
The population is growing in New York City and Albany, but it is stagnate in the rest of the state. I believe it is only a matter of time until the NY Senate is controlled by NYC Democrats. When this happens are we even going to be asked whether this bill should be passed or even if NY farms can survive with it?
I believe it is time we started showing what the truth is on NY farms when it comes to what we really compensate our employees; not just say we pay well but show the figures and what this bill would really cost NY farmers and in the end NY farm workers. We will lose this fight if we continue as we have. The leaders in the Senate and the Governor’s office must see the truth about our farms. The accompanying table shows what we compensate our 14 farm employees. For the sake of space, all benefits are totaled into one figure, but benefits include: health, life, and disability insurances; free housing including all utilities and cable television; paid vacation up to 21 paid days; retirement plan with 3% of salary farm contribution; double-time pay on holidays; and a side of beef per person per year. Depending on how long the employees have been with us and positions held will determine what benefits they get.
|Hourly Wage||$ Benefits||Hours/ Year||Gross Wages||$ / Hour||Hours/ Week||Overtime $|
The overtime is figured on time and one half over 8 hours/day and over 40 hours/week as the omnibus bill would require. The $67,087/year overtime cost is the largest government cost/year ever imposed on my farm. Even the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), costs less. We spent $300,000 over ten years and about $20,000 per year to be in compliance. There is a basic rule in business that the advocates and most politicians do not understand:
- No matter how much you want to do something.
- No matter how much you are TOLD you have to do something.
- If you can’t pay for it, YOU CANNOT DO IT.
That is all this comes down to in the end. There is not enough money on farms to pay for this bill. As farmers we all must step up and tell the Senate and Governor’s office what this bill will really do to our farms and show it in the full truth even if it shows how bad some are off financially.
All of us buy insurance for fire, crop, liability, and more. We spend a smaller amount of money up-front to prevent a catastrophic financial event from happening to our farms. I believe we should look at this the same way. Spending a smaller amount of money up-front to come to some type of agreement with the Governor and the Senate to get this bill off the table and not have to fight it every year.
Finally, the consumers have too great of disconnect from farming to be able to understand and know us. It is too easy for them to believe the extreme that the advocates claim is the norm on all farms. We must step up and show all the truth about how we treat and compensate our employees and the true financial status of farms and the true financial impact of this bill.