Local Farmers and NYS Senate Republican Leader Join Martucci for Farmer Roundtable to Discuss Devastating Impact of Metzger’s Farmworker Labor Law

FLORIDA, NY – NYS Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt and Mike Martucci, candidate for the 42nd Senate District, brought farmers to the table today to discuss the devastating impacts of the Farmworkers Labor Law, supported by Martucci’s Democrat opponent Jen Metzger. 

Produce, dairy, and hemp farmers said the bill, forced upon them by New York City Democrats who have little knowledge of family farms, and which was supported in an act of betrayal by local state Senator and Agriculture Chairwoman Jen Metzger, is harmful to their struggling businesses. The law was opposed by 19 farm organizations, farm owners, and their workers.

Adding to the struggle to survive, COVID-19 has added new hardships to an already difficult line of work.

“When Mike Martucci’s opponent sided with New York City Democrats and turned her back on farms, she failed to listen to the voices of her constituents who clearly warned this law would uproot jobs and business. Our farmers are key to New York’s economy and they don’t need rules created by people who never worked this land for a living. It’s hard and fulfilling work, but it depends on so many variables like weather and non-traditional hours, something hard for city folks to understand. The problems created by Democrats are compounded by the COVID-19 crisis that left farmers with products they couldn’t sell. The Senate Republican Conference believes that our farmers, their workers, and our land is important, and we will work to weed-out the business-killing Democrats and their policies,” said Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt.

“When you represent a district, you must listen to the people who elect you, and my opponent has failed in this regard time and time again. She ceded her legislative duties to Governor Cuomo while milk was dumped, beef never made it to the slaughterhouse, and produce rotted in the fields. She has done nothing tangible in her capacity to actually help farmers during this pandemic,” said Mike Martucci. “Today, I listened to farmers about the hardships they now face because of their Democrat official siding with a New York City agenda over her constituents’ interests. Our region has a rich agricultural history and farmers are the lifeblood of our local economy. More importantly, they feed New York. As a part-time farmer myself, I recognize their struggles and will represent them when I get to the Senate because we cannot afford to lose these critical family businesses.”

Farm owners gathered at the table said the new labor law, coupled by the challenges of COVID-19, have forced them to the brink of closure.

Orange County Legislator Paul Ruszkiewicz, Ruszkiewicz Farms said: “I know Mike Martucci will work hard to support and promote the region’s agricultural industries and farms as our next State Senator. He will be an important ally in our state and local efforts to strengthen the Hudson Valley’s farming industry.”

Joey Morgiewicz, Morgiewicz Produce: “My family’s farm, and many like ours in the area, send a lot of products and produce to markets in New York City. This puts us in direct competition with farms in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and places us at a disadvantage because of New York’s burdensome rules and regulations. We need someone in Albany who will fight to reduce these burdens – especially for up and coming fifth-generation farmers like myself. I know Hudson Valley farmers can count on Mike Martucci to help us secure a future.”

Andrew Gurda, A. Gurda Produce Company said: “I work with the region’s farmers on a daily basis, shipping their produce throughout the tri-state area. These hard working men and women need a representative in Albany who will be their voice and advocate for them. For me, that person is Mike Martucci. A small business owner, Mike is aware of the burdens New York places on farms and businesses and knows what changes need to be made to give local farmers a competitive edge over their competition.” 

Michelle Gurda, Davandjer Farms said: “For generations my family has farmed the black dirt region of the Hudson Valley, employing hundreds of workers and providing produce throughout the region. We need partners like Mike Martucci in state government who understand the obstacles we face and who will fight to protect our family farmers.”

Gary Glowaczewski, R&G Produce: “The newly enacted Farm Laborers Law severely impacted the Hudson Valley’s produce industry and has hurt the businesses and workers who have farmed produce in this region for generations. We need our representatives in state government to give us the ability to compete with neighboring states and countries. Our lack of competitiveness, failure to keep up with the times, and a broken system that doesn’t take into account the costs for farmers have created an unsustainable situation for our industry. High taxes, rising costs, unfair markets, and mountains of regulations make it exceedingly difficult for New York’s farmers to survive, let alone thrive.”

Rick and Chris Vreeland, Freedom Hill Farm said: “Dairy farmers suffered greatly during COVID, with many of us struggling to keep our farms afloat. We needed help, but mostly got lip service from our local elected officials. I know that will change when Mike Martucci is elected to the State Senate. Mike is a true friend to Hudson Valley Dairy Farmers and I know he will fight for us in Albany.”

Mike Miedema, Peaceful Valley Farm: “I have known Mike Martucci and his family my entire life. They are good, honest people who understand the values of hard work. I know we can count on Mike to listen to our concerns and be a strong advocate for Hudson Valley farmers in Albany.”

Phil Johnson, President Downstate Milk Cooperative said: “COVID-19 hit the region’s dairy farmers particularly hard with countless farmers forced to dump milk at the height of the pandemic. Mike Martucci reached out to me immediately during these tough times and offered his help and support. That’s the kind of leadership our farmers need in state government.”

Thomas and Aleah Walsh, Twin Arch Farm said: “The hemp industry is a rapidly expanding industry that has the potential to grow exponentially if the state gives us the freedom we need.  Laws like Farm Laborers and mountains of regulations are hurting our business and costing the region and state countless jobs and opportunities.”

Steve Pennings, Pennings Orchard in Warwick said: “The Hudson Valley’s agri-tourism industry is a growing industry. Yet, like many small businesses we have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown. Moving forward we need good partners in Albany, people like Mike Martucci, who will help us rebound out of this crisis and enact policies that will allow us to grow and prosper.” 

Media release drafted by New York State Senator Robert Ortt.

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