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Your 2021 membership renewal is due now! Take advantage of the early-pay discount when paid before Nov. 30. Pay by check, online at NYFB.org, or by phone at 1-800-342-4143. Remember to sign up for AutoRenewal to save yourself time next year. If you have already paid, we thank you for your continued support in keeping New York agriculture strong.
In this issue:
Information on Cluster Zones Restrictions The New York Cluster Action Initiative designates areas as red, orange, or yellow zones if they meet certain COVID-19 metrics. Click here to view those metrics and how zones are designated. In a yellow zone, indoor/outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people, in an orange zone the limit is 10 people and non-essential indoor/outdoor gatherings are prohibited in red zones. Once an area becomes a red zone, non-essential activities and businesses are prohibited. Click here to view the list of essential activities which includes horticulture such as the direct sale of Christmas trees, but all agritourism activities are prohibited. Essential activities in a red zone include animal care so farms would need to follow the guidance for animal care operations. This guidance does not include allowing horse riding lessons. Click here for information on the cluster zones and click here to see if your area is in a cluster zone. Empire State Development also has this FAQ and this guidance for more information. All statewide guidance and information is available on the NY Forward website and NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets website . This includes the FAQ document for agritourism activities not located in a red zone.
NYFB State Annual Meeting is Almost Here
State Annual Meeting will take place in a little over a week with virtual committee and caucus meetings followed by delegate session the next day, all held via Zoom. Open Resolutions kick things off on Monday, Dec. 7, along with the Young Farmer and Rancher, the Promotion and Education Business Sessions and Elections and the District Caucuses. Then on Tuesday, Dec. 8 delegates will take part in a day long business meeting and delegate session to discuss and vote on public policy resolutions that started at the county Farm Bureau level. We will be using a virtual electronic voting system called e-ballot.
Meeting packets have been sent to delegates and participants, but all members are able view the meeting. However, you will need the proper login information. If you are interested in viewing delegate session on Dec. 8, please reach out to NYFB's Member Support Team at 518-436-8495 no later than Wednesday, Dec. 2.
NYFB To Host Training for Current and Prospective County Farm Bureau Directors
If you are interested in becoming a stronger Farm Bureau leader or may want to join your county Farm Bureau board of directors in the future, then we encourage you to take part in a virtual training session. We are offering four different dates and times to make it as easy as possible for you to take part.
Director orientation topics include:
This training session will be repeated four times at different times and dates this fall as follows:
Farm Labor Wage Board to Hold Virtual Public Presentations
The New York State Farm Labor Wage Board convened by law to consider whether to lower the 60-hour farm labor overtime threshold will hold two additional meetings next week to hear presentations and to discuss the written submissions and testimony received at the previous public hearings. The meetings are open to members of the public and will be conducted via videoconference. No public testimony will be taken at these meetings.
The additional meetings are scheduled Dec.1 at 4 p.m. and Dec. 2 at 2:30 p.m..
Click here for more information and how to view the virtual presentations.
In addition, NYFB joined with more than two dozen New York State agricultural organizations this week asking the Governor to maintain the 60-hour overtime threshold. To read more about the effort and the letter sent to the Governor, click here.
Letter to the Governor to Halt Minimum Wage Increases
This week New York Farm Bureau has sent a letter to the Governor expressing our concerns regarding the upcoming increase to New York’s minimum wage and requesting future increases in minimum wage be put on hold once New York meets the $12.50 requirement. Farmers have had a particularly challenging year where they suffered major losses due to the ongoing pandemic as well as had to take on additional labor expenses with the new farm labor laws that went into effect. Small business owners in the state are experiencing tough economic times. A suspension or a halt in the minimum wage increases would be beneficial to farmers and other businesses in rural communities across the state. To view the letter, click here.
NYFB Signs onto Scaffold Reform Letter
New York Farm Bureau joined over seventy-five membership organizations, including trade associations, chambers of commerce, housing advocates, agricultural organizations, and municipal advocates, in requesting support for H.R. 8222, the Infrastructure Expansion Act of 2020 which was introduced by Representative Chris Jacobs (NY-27). The bill aims to protect federal infrastructure funds by imposing the same liability standard on federally funded New York projects that is found in 49 other states. Currently, New York remains the only state in the nation to impose absolute liability on construction projects under Labor Law 240/241, a statute known as the “Scaffold Law.” This law holds property owners and contractors fully liable for worksite accidents, regardless of the contributing fault of the worker. NYFB hopes that this bill continues to call upon the need to reform the Scaffold Law and ensure that construction costs, including those for farmers, are not artificially raised by the Scaffold Law requirements. A copy of the letter can be found here.
USDOT Releases New Rule Clarifying Definition of Agricultural Commodity for HOS Regulations
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced an interim final rule (IFR) that further clarifies the definition of the terms ‘any agricultural commodity,” “livestock,” and “non-processed food” for the purposes of Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. Currently, during harvesting and planting seasons as determined by each state, drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from the HOS requirements from the source of the commodities to a location within a 150-air-mile radius from the source.
The updated definitions are as follows: Agricultural commodity means: Any agricultural commodity, non-processed food, feed, fiber, or livestock as defined in this section. As used in this definition, the term ‘any agricultural commodity’ means horticultural products at risk of perishing, or degrading in quality, during transport by commercial motor vehicle, including plants, sod, flowers, shrubs, ornamentals, seedlings, live trees, and Christmas trees. Livestock means livestock as defined in sec. 602 of the Emergency Livestock Feed Assistance Act of 1988 [7 U.S.C.1471], as amended, insects, and all other living animals cultivated, grown, or raised for commercial purposes, including aquatic animals.
Non-processed food means food commodities in a raw or natural state and not subjected to significant post-harvest changes to enhance shelf life, such as canning, jarring, freezing, or drying. The term ‘non-processed food’ includes fresh fruits and vegetables, and cereal and oilseed crops which have been minimally processed by cleaning, cooling, trimming, cutting, chopping, shucking, bagging, or packaging to facilitate transport by commercial motor vehicle. A copy of the IFR can be found here.
Thinking of Starting a Red Meat Packing Plant? CCE Hosting NYS Webinar
The Cornell Cooperative Extension's Livestock Program Work Team is hosting a webinar that will lay out some of the primary considerations for opening a red meat slaughter and processing facility, from infrastructure to regulations and from labor to financing. The webinar will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 9 from 12-1:30 p.m.
Presenter Marty Broccoli of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Oneida County has 40 years of experience in the meat packing industry, and provides technical assistance for new plants in NY. Keith Schrader is a long-time beef farmer who owns Schrader Farms Meat Market, a USDA slaughterhouse in Romulus, NY. Both will share key tips and lessons learned, with ample time for Q&A. You can pre-register for this free webinar now. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
NYFB has created a Farmworker Relief Program, a database whereby a farmworker seeking work can complete a form to be included in the database, and a farmer seeking workers can use the database as a recruiting resource
NY FarmNet is Open
Please keep these numbers and websites available to call or share should you, a family member or friends need someone to speak with in these uncertain times. Support is available at 1-800-547-3276 and www.nyfarmnet.org.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255 (TALK), www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Crisis Text Line Text
“GOT 5” to 741-741, www.crisistextline.org