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Survey of New York Dairy Farm Employers 2009

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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to gather information from fruit, vegetable and dairy farm employers regarding agricultural workforce issues in New York agriculture. The survey provides new insights into five key topic areas; the number of workers on New York farms, employee wages and benefits, characteristics of the Hispanic workforce, attitudes among farm operators regarding proposed State labor law changes and Federal immigration reform. The agricultural workforce for fruit, vegetable and dairy farms in New York including part-time and full-time workers totaled 33,200. The focus of this report is on the dairy industry where the number of hired dairy employees is estimated to be 9,600. Dairy farm employers reported that experienced general laborers were paid an average of $9.98 per hour and experienced milkers were paid an average of $9.71. Dairy employers also reported salary ranges for hired managers. They reported that 8% of middle managers and 38% of top-level managers earn salaries of $50,000 or more annually. Hispanic workers play an increasingly important role in the New York dairy industry. The survey found that there are 2,600 Hispanic dairy workers in the State. Regarding their Hispanic workers, dairy farm employers reported that the two issues requiring the most assistance were immigration issues and language skills. At the time the survey was conducted, New York’s labor advocates and farm employers were debating legislation that would have required farm employers to provide their workers overtime pay and collective bargaining rights. The majority of dairy farmers surveyed indicated that they would be very concerned if their workers were allowed to form unions and if they were required to pay overtime. Regarding Federal immigration reform, survey participants were asked to rate the importance of national immigration reform, a path to citizenship and a guest worker program to their business. While all three issues were important to farm managers, a path to citizenship was reported to be less important than national immigration reform or a guest worker program.

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R.B. 2011-01

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2011-03

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Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University

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Applied Economics

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