ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Governor Andrew Cuomo and leaders of both chambers reached an agreement Thursday on a budget that included the hotly debated minimum wage increase.
The wage bill contains a series of “calibrated” increases that would boost the paychecks of two-million workers.
NY farmers already make more than the state minimum wage of nine dollars per hour. Now, change that to 15 dollars and that could put a strain on their business.
Farms will be facing serious economic changes. They will have no choice but to pay higher wage rates and in turn, their products will be more expensive and less available.
The average wage for a New York State farmer is $12.40 per hour. This means farmers will have to go up to 17 or 18 dollars per hour in order to stay competitive.
“If a bag of carrots cost 2-dollars, they only get a certain amount of that through the whole wholesale chain, so it’s really really tough to make a profit in farming,” said Jeff Williams, the Director of Public Policy for the NY Farm Bureau.
The agricultural business is known as a tough industry. NY is competing with other states that aren’t facing the wage hike.
“Worst case scenario is they can’t afford to stay in business, and they move out of state or just close up shop all together,” said Williams.
Over time, the minimum wage increase can potentially change the farm industry in many ways. One that will be impacted the most are farmer’s landscapes.
“The landscape is going to change because the highly intensive labor products takes a lot of people to pick apples or plant cabbage or pick cabbage,” said Williams.
What WILL change for the better is the healthcare worker industry. They are just a few of the groups that have been waiting anxiously to see this increase.
News10ABC reached out to the United Healthcare Workers East and they issued a statement that said, quote “This budget agreement is a tremendous step forward in addressing extreme economic inequality, but there were powerful forces that were strongly opposed to raising the minimum wage at all, especially in upstate. The agreement increases the minimum wage every year in upstate based on indexing, until we reach $15 statewide”.
The 15 dollar wage increase has been one of Governor Cuomo’s top priorities and industries won’t see the increase immediately as it’s meant to be a gradual phase.