Becker Forum 2018

The 2018 Becker Forum will take place on Monday, January 15, one day prior to the opening of the Empire State Producers Expo. The forum will focus on agricultural workforce issues with three general themes: securing a legal agricultural workforce, labor law compliance and H-2A program topics.

Featured speaker Kristi Boswell from USDA will provide an overview regarding her agency’s activities aimed at improving opportunities for agricultural employers to attract and hire a qualified and legal workforce.

Other speakers will provide a review of changes in both state and federal laws as well as key employment practices to ensure labor law compliance. Belen Ledezma, New York State Monitor Advocate (NYDOL) will review key labor regulations and provide necessary posters for the farm workplace. In addition, Ann Margaret Pointer, attorney with Fisher Phillips, will review key components of federal labor laws that apply to farm employers with a focus on federal DOL inspections and housing.

The afternoon program will focus on information related to the H-2A Program. Current changes in the H-2A program will be highlighted. Since each year H-2A participation in New York increases, a panel of growers with experience using H-2A will guide forum participants through procedures that they used to effectively hire foreign-born H-2A workers.

A roundtable discussion with the speakers at the end of the afternoon will provide an opportunity for questions and discussion regarding critical workforce issues.

Registration for the Becker Forum will be available on the NYS Vegetable Growers Association website accompanying the Empire State Producers Expo information.
The 2018 Becker Forum will take place on Monday, January 15, one day prior to the opening of the Empire State Producers Expo. The forum will focus on agricultural workforce issues with three general themes: securing a legal agricultural workforce, labor law compliance and H-2A program topics.

Featured speaker Kristi Boswell from USDA will provide an overview regarding her agency’s activities aimed at improving opportunities for agricultural employers to attract and hire a qualified and legal workforce.

Other speakers will provide a review of changes in both state and federal laws as well as key employment practices to ensure labor law compliance. Belen Ledezma, New York State Monitor Advocate (NYDOL) will review key labor regulations and provide necessary posters for the farm workplace. In addition, Ann Margaret Pointer, attorney with Fisher Phillips, will review key components of federal labor laws that apply to farm employers with a focus on federal DOL inspections and housing.

The afternoon program will focus on information related to the H-2A Program. Current changes in the H-2A program will be highlighted. Since each year H-2A participation in New York increases, a panel of growers with experience using H-2A will guide forum participants through procedures that they used to effectively hire foreign-born H-2A workers.

A roundtable discussion with the speakers at the end of the afternoon will provide an opportunity for questions and discussion regarding critical workforce issues.

Registration for the Becker Forum will be available on the NYS Vegetable Growers Association website accompanying the Empire State Producers Expo information.

The 2018 Becker Forum will take place on Monday, January 15, one day prior to the opening of the Empire State Producers Expo. The forum will focus on agricultural workforce issues with three general themes: securing a legal agricultural workforce, labor law compliance and H-2A program topics.

Featured speaker Kristi Boswell from USDA will provide an overview regarding her agency’s activities aimed at improving opportunities for agricultural employers to attract and hire a qualified and legal workforce.

Other speakers will provide a review of changes in both state and federal laws as well as key employment practices to ensure labor law compliance. Belen Ledezma, New York State Monitor Advocate (NYDOL) will review key labor regulations and provide necessary posters for the farm workplace. In addition, Ann Margaret Pointer, attorney with Fisher Phillips, will review key components of federal labor laws that apply to farm employers with a focus on federal DOL inspections and housing.

The afternoon program will focus on information related to the H-2A Program. Current changes in the H-2A program will be highlighted. Since each year H-2A participation in New York increases, a panel of growers with experience using H-2A will guide forum participants through procedures that they used to effectively hire foreign-born H-2A workers.

A roundtable discussion with the speakers at the end of the afternoon will provide an opportunity for questions and discussion regarding critical workforce issues.

Registration for the Becker Forum will be available on the NYS Vegetable Growers Association website accompanying the Empire State Producers Expo information.

Here is the agenda for the Forum:

Farm Employment Practices:  Planning for the Future

Syracuse, NY

 Agenda

 8:30 a.m.        Registration

 9:00 a.m.        Welcome and Introduction

                         Industry involvement in State level labor issues

Rick Zimmerman, New York State Vegetable Growers

9:20 a.m.         Review of key labor regulations and regulatory changes

Belén Ledezma, New York State Monitor Advocate, NYDOL

10:00 a.m.      Break

10:15 a.m.       How will USDA be involved in agricultural labor policy?

Kristi Boswell, Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

 10:55 a.m.       Federal Labor Regulations including new programs, overview of forms, regulations and posting requirements – Ann Margaret Pointer, Attorney and Partner, Atlanta office of Fisher Phillips

11:45               Lunch

12:45 p.m.      Guidelines for making housing work and including H-2A Program requirements

1:25 p.m.        How other regions of the United States are using the H-2A Program – Kameron and Mark Martens Agri-Placements, Fairview, Oklahoma

2:05 p.m.        Review of the H-2A process – Kristi Boswell and Belén Ledezma

2:45 p.m.        Break

 3:00 p.m.        Producer panel:  Current status of H-2A and a few basics

Moderator: Paul Baker

Speakers:

Alison DeMarree – DeMarree Fruit Farms, Williamson, NY

Dan Henry – W.D. Henry and Son, Inc.

Kathleen Walker – Lakeview Orchards, Burt, NY

3:50 p.m.        Speaker Roundtable – Questions and answers with all of the speakers

4:30 p.m.        Adjourn

 

Annual Message

I have heard often that what happens in California is a good indication of which direction the country is heading. That may be true many times but for those of us here in New York State I think we may have a second read on this concept. Today California is deeply troubled by the reality that for farms to field a legal workforce they need to move heavily to the H2A program. This means that they must now become concerned with housing on a scale that frankly they are not prepared to cope with. No longer can they hire an employee and tell them to report to work the next day. Now they must provide approved housing for each new hire. Labor shortages are increasing in the West each day due to the requirements of compliance to H2A. I say welcome to our reality!

Here in New York we are seeing a sharp increase in the usage of the H2A program. The reality is that the labor pool that may migrate north is depleted and no longer able to fill our needs. To insure a labor supply adequate to meet your needs means you must make use of the H2A program. It may be cumbersome but it is workable if one follows the steps provided. Farm size has little to do with who is using this program. I know of several farms that are asking for only 2 employees. The point is, if you have a labor need no one is exempt.

Dairy continues to be the industry most at risk. We have seen countless attempts in Washington to get some relief for this industry. To date the seasonality clause remains the heavy lift. Many in dairy have expressed a strong desire to be allowed to participate in the H2A program. Some form of this may occur but thus far it remains a roadblock. The current H2C efforts if passed would offer some paths to relief. I see too many issues with this piece of legislation to ever make it to the finish line. The fact that we are still attempting to draft a good piece of legislation is the one bright take away from this H2C effort. If Dairy ever does get acceptance into the H2A program I think many will find themselves in the same position as California. Housing may be a huge barrier for this group to overcome.

Agriculture Affiliates/NYS Horticulture Society has agreed to participate in the 2018 Becker Forum. I have enclosed an agenda in this mailing for your review.  I would strongly encourage each farm to have some representation in Syracuse on January 15, 2018. We will have a one day review of many of the questions we will be facing both in Albany and DC in 2018. Second, we will have speakers from the State and Federal government to report on the most current news. We are offering a panel of three farms that have made the transition successfully to H2A. They will be a resource for all of you to hear what their observations of this process have been. As always we will allow a Q and A for you at the end to express your opinions. Please attend and consider sponsoring this program.

It may appear that we are fighting an uphill battle with regards to labor. I can understand this. I would

Paul Baker,
Executive Director
NYSHS

offer that we are making progress. Both in State and Nationally I see a broadening acceptance that Agriculture is very important to our economic security. Food security is a factor. From East to West we are seeing a centering of issues that I feel will only help to push sound guest worker legislation forward. New York State has been and will continue to be a leader in this growth. It is the participation of many of you that has kept our needs and issues current. We will with your participation and support continue to articulate your needs. I cannot state it more clearly that failure to be present when these issues are discussed is to surrender to concepts we know will offer only failure to our operations.

Thank you for your support;

 

Adverse Effect Wage Rates

State                              2017                              2018                                        %Change

New York                      $12.38                            $12.83                                     3.63%

Arizona                          $10.95                            $10.46                                     -4.47%

California                       $12.57                            $13.18                                     4.85%

Florida                           $11.12                            $11.29                                     1.53%

Georgia                          $10.62                            $10.95                                     3.11%

Hawaii                           $13.14                            $14.37                                     9.36%

Michigan                        $12.75                            $13.06                                     2.43%

New Hampshire              $12.38                            $12.83                                     3.63%

North Carolina               $11.27                            $11.46                                     1.69%

New Jersey                     $12.19                            $12.05                                     -1.15%

Ohio                               $13.01                            $12.93                                     -0.61%

Oregon                           $13.38                            $14.12                                     5.53%

Pennsylvania                  $12.19                            $12.05                                      -1.15%

Texas                             $11.00                            $11.87                                     2.42%

Vermont                         $12.38                            $12.83                                     3.63%

Virginia                          $11.27                            $11.46                                     1.69%

Washington                    $13.38                            $14.12                                     5.53%