New York State Issues
New York Minimum Wage
Through participation in a coalition, the Alliance was successful in mitigating the impact on agriculture from New York’s minimum wage increase. The minimum wage will increase to $12.50 over five years throughout Upstate New York, while $15 will be law of the land in New York City, Westchester County and Long Island. The downstate phase-in will range from three to six years.
Governor Supports Collective Bargaining
The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a farm labor lawsuit against the State of New York, and Governor Andrew Cuomo, arguing that current prohibitions against collective bargaining and mandatory overtime are unconstitutional. Governor Cuomo stated he will not contest the suit and the Alliance signed an industry letter strongly criticizing the Governor for his actions. New York Farm Bureau filed a motion in State Supreme Court to become party to the suit and thus defend their members from this egregious case. The Alliance will continue to closely monitor this development.
Alliance Aids in Reasonable Minimum Wage Reform
Through participation in a large business coalition, the Alliance was successful in mitigating the agricultural impact from New York’s minimum wage increase The minimum wage will increase to $12.50 over five years throughout Upstate New York, while $15 will be law of the land in New York City, Westchester County and Long Island. The downstate phase-in will range from three to six years.
Alliance Takes Leadership to Protect Pollinators in Vermont
A proposed ban on neonicotinoid pesticides in Vermont was thwarted through engagement by the Alliance and Vermont Farm Bureau. Art Whitman, Government Relations Chair for the Alliance made several trips to Montpelier to meet with legislators and testify before committees on the issue.
Vermont has chosen to develop a Pollinator Health Oversight Committee made up of a broad cross section of interested parties. The committee while take a universal approach to improving pollinator health. The legislature is also developing language to provide the Pesticide Advisory Committee with clear authority to work with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture for development of Best Management Practices (if needed) for use of articles treated with pesticides. The Alliance collaborated with Vermont Farm Bureau on this effort.
Alliance Supports Development of a Pollinator Health Plan for Vermont
Art Whitman, chair of the Alliance Government Relations Committee met with leaders from the Vermont House and Senate Agriculture Committees in mid January to discuss support of pollinator health in Vermont. Jim Howe, a commercial beekeeper from Shaftsbury, Vermont who transports hundreds of hives across the country to pollinate commercial crops, joined Art in the Statehouse.
It is estimated that the number of managed honeybee colonies declined by 23% nationwide during the winter of 2013-14. Comparable losses in hive numbers have been recorded for many years previously. As with any biological system, the cause for the decline in the number of bees is complex and most likely the result of a combination of connected issues. The presence of pests, parasites and pathogens are known to stress the health of bee colonies. Regular access to food at specific life stages is essential for healthy hives. Bee management practices, genetic diversity of the bee population and exposure to pesticides have also been proposed to impact colony health.
The Alliance supports development of a pollinator health plan for Vermont, administered by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, to address the full spectrum of approaches to support pollinator vigor. By working closely with researchers, regulators and producers a pollinator health plan will develop an effective approach to manage the complex interactions among multiple stressors.
State Policy Position Statement
The Alliance recognizes the existence of appropriate voluntary consumer labeling programs for food and does not support state level food labeling to identify specific production practices.
State Policy Background
Priorities for the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance include supporting farmers use of science-based practices and crop production technology such as GMOs, for the production of quality food. The Alliance identifies that a well-structured voluntary food labeling program exists through the USDA organic program and does not support increased state level regulatory oversight of food labeling to identify specific production practices.
The preponderance of the peer-reviewed scientific literature strongly supports the safety and environmental benefits of genetically modified foods. The nutritional value of genetically modified foods does not differ from conventional foods and we will need these biotechnologies to feed a growing world population.
Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence of the safety of genetically modified foods, the Alliance does acknowledge the right of consumers to know the source of ingredients in the foods they choose to purchase. If adopted federally, the designation on food labels of ingredients as genetically modified should be confined to the ingredients section of the label in the same font size and color as the rest of the ingredients listed. Any statements of GMO ingredients receiving greater prominence on the label would be viewed by the Alliance as misbranding.