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 $
12.5 15092 2700 48842 18.09 52 3875
13.25 5924 2800 43024 15.37 54 4770
12.25 4907 2318 33302 14.37 44.6 1458
11.3 6168 2835 38203 13.48 54.5 4266
11.35 4387 3298 41819 12.68 63.4 6912
10.5 3071 2839 32880 11.58 54.5 3985
10.95 3378 1511 19923 13.18 29.1 1440
12.9 643 1446 19296 13.34 27.8 1277
11.6 2920 3517 43717 12.43 67.6 8335
10.75 3508 3184 37736 11.85 61.2 5934
10.75 3508 3519 41337 11.75 67.7 7735
11.5 9247 3354 47818 14.26 64.5 7326
10.75 5824 3537 43846 12.4 68 7831
8.85 5483 2519 27776 11.03 48.1 1943
67087

 

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:

  1.  No matter how much you want to do something.
  2.  No matter how much you are TOLD you have to do something.
  3.  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.