The Long Island Farm Bureau, in solidarity with other small business owners, held a press conference yesterday to announce its opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to raise the minimum wage in New York State to $15 and to encourage elected representative to vote against it.
Last fall Cuomo raised the minimum wage for state workers to $15. Since then he has been campaigning to make it consistent across all industries, public and private. His proposal, which he is expected to include in the state’s budget due on April 1, outlines a gradual wage hike culminating in $15 by 2021.
At the press conference, Karl Novak of Half H0llow Hills Nursery said the minimum wage increase would dramatically cut profitability. “Labor is our most expensive cost input at our nursery, currently close to 50 percent of our total operating cost,” he stated. “A $15 minimum wage would raise our current labor costs in excess of percent and would mean close to a 30 percent increase in our total operating expense.”
According to the farm bureau, a recent report conducted by the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, found that at least 200,000 jobs would be lost across the state. And that a separate independent analysis by Farm Credit East estimates a $15 minimum wage in New York State would cost farmers between $387 and $622 million in 2021 at the peak of the wage rollout and nearly 2,000 farms would no longer be profitable.
“Some businesses will be forced to raise prices. As a farmer, I can’t do that and still expect to compete against growers from places like Pennsylvania or Michigan,”said Bob Nolan, a vegetable farmer from Brookhaven. “Because their labor costs would be as much as half of ours, they could price me right out of business. That would mean no local food, no jobs and no tax revenue.”
A call to Gov. Cuomo’s press office was not returned.