NOFA-NY Field Notes

NOFA-NY Blog

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The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act – What It Means for Organic Farms

The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act – What It Means for Organic Farms

 

After twenty years of intense campaigning by farm worker advocates, the NYS Legislature passed S.6578 Ramos / A.8419 Nolan, the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act (in previous years known as the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act) and on June 18, 2019 Governor Cuomo quickly signed it into law. The passage of the bill was made possible by the new Democratic control of the NYS Senate as well as the Assembly which has passed similar bills year after year. The NY Farm Bureau vociferously opposed the bill, declaiming that the requirement for time and half overtime pay would wreck farming in the state. Farmworkers hailed the passage as a victory for basic labor rights and fairness. As organic farmers, we salute the justice of finally ending the exclusion of farmworkers from labor protections and acknowledge their freedom of association.  We appreciate the legislative process, including lengthy public hearings where many farmers and farmworkers were able to express their views, and the resulting compromises, while far from perfect, are at least steps in the right direction. Until farmers can afford to pay living wages and full health and retirement benefits to farm workers (and to themselves), we will not have a farming system that is truly worth sustaining.

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AJP/NOFA Field Day at Soul Fire Farm

AJP/NOFA Field Day at Soul Fire Farm

“If I’m not attending to the unhealthy in my relations, I’m contributing to the unhealth of the soil.” - Damaris Miller

 

“Building your Farm Team to Build Healthier Soil,” the field day at Soul Fire Farm, focused on communication strategies on the farm, building healthy soil, and the mutual support between the two. The Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY (NOFA-NY), Soul Fire Farm and the Agricultural Justice Project (AJP) teamed up to conduct this well-attended and successful field day on October 21 at the farm in Grafton, New York. 

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Farmer Profile: Bill MacKentley

Farmer Profile: Bill MacKentley

Bill MacKentley – Hardy Fruit and Nut Tree Farmer

Liz Henderson interviewed Bill for this newsletter.

In introducing Bill as the 2019 NOFA Person of the Year, Steve Gilman called him “a Giant from the North Country, a veritable Druid in our midst, far from invisible but dwelling on the Far Out side of the spectrum.…This person’s knowledge of the intricacies of organic hands-on growing -- coupled with unstoppable energy, brilliant intellectual pursuit and deep experiential know-how leads him (and us) in many directions. And he’s a gracious and infectious sharer of that knowledge. As a longtime NOFA summer and winter conference presenter, attendees know his workshops are not to be missed.”

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Root Solutions to Crisis for Family-Scale Farms

Root Solutions to Crisis for Family-Scale Farms

By Elizabeth Henderson, Board Chair of the Agricultural Justice Project

“Agricultural choices must be made by these inescapable standards: the ecological health of the farm and the economic health of the farmer.’ Wendell Berry, Right Kind of Farming

For almost five decades (50th anniversary coming up in 2021!), the Northeast Organic Farming Association has been dedicated to supporting and expanding the community of farmers, homesteaders and conscious eaters who build their lives and livelihoods through agroecology – growing and consuming food, forage and other crops in as much harmony with natural processes and rhythms as we can muster. To enable shoppers to identify organically grown food, NOFA has put a lot of resources – time and energy – into developing and maintaining organic certification and the integrity of the organic label. But that label is not enough to keep family-scale farms viable.

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