Dairy Report: New York Farm Labor Law; U.S. Refuses Cheese Name Rules

Dairy Report 043019
Dairy employees milking cows in a rotary parlor. ( Wyatt Bechtel )

Legislators in New York are considering stricter laws on farm labor while the U.S. is rejecting to fall in line with the European Union when it comes to cheese names. For more on these stories watch the AgDay video above or read the following news brief links.

Farmworkers, Owners Debate Push for Stronger Labor Rules

State Senators in New York heard from farm owners and workers about concerns from both sides as it pertains to labor. The New York state Senate held the hearing on April 25 before considering the Farmworker Fair Labor Practice Act later in the legislator. A second hearing was held on April 26, while the final hearing will be on May 2.

The act would allow farm workers to unionize, extend worker compensation benefits, guarantee at least a day off per week and require overtime pay when a laborer eclipses an eight hour work day or a 40 hour work week.

During the first hearing a number of farmers spoke about what the law could do.

“This additional burden would possibly put us out of business,” says Judi Whittaker, part owner of a Broome County dairy farm.

U.S. Rejects EU Attempt To Control Cheese Names

The European Union (EU) is attempting to regulate the U.S. on the use of cheese names such as fontina, gorgonzola, asiago and feta. However, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is rejecting the proposed policy and it has the backing of dairy industry officials.

“Europe has disadvantaged the U.S. dairy industry for too long by abusing geographical indications (GI) policies,” says Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). “We face unfair barriers around the world because of Europe.”