The New York Farm Bureau and the Small Business Council of New York State are speaking out against the proposed raise to minimum wage. Many North Country farmers agree and are voicing some concerns of their own. Our Amanda Kelley takes a look at why they argue raising the minimum wage could hurt the agricultural community.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- As Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced a plan to raise the minimum wage in New York State Monday, local farms and small businesses listened closely and are now voicing their concerns.
Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator Jay Matteson said, "I think it's a mistake at this point in time for New York State to take this action when they're trying to rebuild our businesses, create more jobs"
Garden of Eden Stock Farm Owner Michael Kiechel said, "Another state mandate that makes me less competitive nationwide, because my product is not sold just here in New York State, it's sold in all of the neighboring states and produced in neighboring states."
Many farmers like Kiechel already pay above minimum wage. But if the state raises it by the proposed $1.25, it will inflate their payroll and make many farmers reduce their workforce.
Kiechel said, "We talked a $1.25, everybody forgets the FICA Tax, the Medicare tax, the unemployment tax, the workers comp tax that we all have to pay on top of their wages. You don't see it as an employee, but we have to pay it."
Raising the minimum wage could potentially hurt more than farmers and small businesses. It could also hurt those young workers throughout New York looking for jobs.
Matteson said, "Now instead of hiring a younger person, that they can justify paying that minimum wage to, they're going to have to look for a person who comes into the business with a little bit more experience, a little bit more training."
Those against the wage increase argue it will also likely cause small businesses to increase the cost of their goods, something that could hurt many already struggling to get by. Farmers say they hope Albany looks at other alternatives before their pocketbooks are milked dry.
Kiechel said, "I think there's better ways to help people rather than raise the minimum wage."
Matteson said, "Let them be more productive, take away some of the taxes that they pay. Give them the opportunity to produce more product at a lower cost, they'll create jobs, we've seen it already."
Possibly building a stronger economy across the state.