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Letter: Farmers value employees, strive to treat them fairly

Farmers value employees, strive to treat them fairly

Imagine farmers who value their employees and pay them above minimum wage, in part, because it’s a struggle to find good farm labor. Imagine employees who have spent 14 years on the farm because they like where they work. Imagine a farmer who cares about having a safe work environment for his family and employees. That is the reality on my farm and those around me, and not the offensive claims made by two writers in their recent letter to the editor.

For starters, the “hearing” they referred to in Albany was a forum set up by labor activists who took questions from TV actor Sam Waterston. More so, the alleged incidents were made to get attention. Farmers would not dock an employee’s pay for taking a drink of water. That is absurd. If there are isolated issues, there are already strict laws on the books to protect people from things like wage theft, unsafe working conditions and poor housing. I encourage readers to call their lawmakers, thanking them for sensible regulations that protect us all.

It’s also important to know that in today’s poor farm economy, farm workers often make more than the farm families they’re working alongside. In addition to an hourly wage that labor statistics prove is commonly above the minimum, many are also provided with housing, internet, cable, utilities and transportation. I respect my employees who provide a valuable service. Don’t buy into the rhetoric from those whose only connection to agriculture is an agenda.

Jeff Simons

President

Erie County Farm Bureau

South Wales

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