Agricultural official Darrell Griff warned Monday that a $15 minimum wage could cause severe unintended consequences for farmers in New York state.
Griff works as a director at the agribusiness lobbying association the New York Farm Bureau. In a letter to Syracuse online, he argued a proposal to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour will cause huge problems for farmers. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed the idea Sept. 10. If passed by state lawmakers, it would gradually bring the minimum wage to $15 throughout the state by 2021.
“A $15 minimum wage in New York is bad for agriculture, our food supply and our pocket books,” Griff wrote. “$15 dollars would increase farm costs by nearly $500 million in New York and eat away at roughly 25 percent of farm net income.”
At the moment, the state minimum wage is $8.75 an hour. Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Edmund J. McMahon also warned Monday that a $15 minimum wage would have a disproportionately negative impact of certain industries. At a panel discussion hosted by the Center for New York City Affairs he asserted large corporation are far more likely to absorb the higher cost of labor.
“That is significantly less money that farmers will have to reinvest into their farms or spend at the local feed and tractor supply stores,” Griff also noted. “All of us will be paying higher prices at any store we walk into to make up for increased labor costs. The ripple effect will be felt throughout our rural communities.”
Supporters, however, claim a $15 minimum wage will help the poor by allowing them to more easily afford basic necessities. The increased spending could then have the added benefit of stimulating the economy.
“It will be tougher for New York farms to compete with those in other states, or countries for that matter, that have cheaper labor costs and can offer their goods at lower prices,” Griff continued. “Supermarkets will often choose that cheaper option. That means the food in our super markets would increasingly not be grown in New York.”
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