Small Farms Could Become Even Smaller If NY Passes $15 Minimum Wage


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New York farmers and business officials gathered at a press conference Monday to warn that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will cause worker layoffs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has worked nonstop to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour since he introduced legislation Sept. 10 designed to phase in the increase. Farmers from across the state, however, warned during the press conference hosted by the Orange County Chamber of Commerce that the increase will force them to downsize.

“The $15 minimum wage is one of the biggest issues facing small businesses and family farms in this state in years,” New York Farm Bureau Representative Chris Kelder said during the conference. “Others may not be able to reinvest and grow like they had planned”

Kelder added that the increase is likely to be passed to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods. Jennifer Crist Kohn, who handles finances at NY-based small business Crist Brothers Orchards, warned the increase would be devastating for the farm. She notes that 50 percent of business revenue already goes to the cost of labor, and she estimates that number would increase by another 30 percent if the policy is enacted.

“[There’s an] effect that no one is talking about,” Diana Lupinski, who helps her husband manage their family farm, said. “[It] will lead to unemployment for the worker and unemployment fees to the employer forced to lay off that individual.”

The state minimum wage is currently $9.00 an hour. Those supporting the policy argue it could help address income inequality, but critics aren’t so sure. Low-income workers may end up earning more money, but employers may also cut back on workforces to overcome the added cost of labor. Studies have shown both negative and positive effects.

The New York Farm Bureau is among a list of business groups fighting the increase. Bureau Director Darrell Griff warned Nov. 2 that the $15 minimum wage will increase farm costs by nearly $500 million statewide and eat away at roughly 25 percent industry net income. The New York State Association of School Business Officials warned Oct. 30 the proposal could also cost state school districts $276 million a year.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has found both positive and negative results at minimum wage increases. It found any increase in the minimum wage will likely result in at least some job loss. The University of California, Berkeley found in a recent study that having less people in poverty outweighs the potential job loss.

The union-backed Fight for $15 movement and other advocates have claimed the $15 minimum wage must be passed immediately. New York is among a handful of states considering the policy, but at the moment it has only been enacted on the city level. Oregon recently passed a measure designed to phase in a $13.50 minimum wage by 2022, putting them on track to having the highest in the country.

Cuomo did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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