Ag leaders critical of minimum wage hike

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Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law which will raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. (KFSN)

Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law which will raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022.

The more than two million people in California who work for minimum wage were thrilled to hear about the salary hike. But ag leaders worried the increase could have a severe impact on the farming industry.

SEIU members cheered as they watched Governor Brown sign the bill. The Service Employees International Union and United Healthcare Workers spearheaded the push to increase the state minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022.

Eva Bruce of Tulare said, "We've all been fighting so hard for the 'Fight for 15.' I cried, a lot of people cried. We were all so excited the moment we saw him sign."

Some believed the minimum wage increase made more sense in big cities like Los Angeles or san Francisco where the cost of living is much higher. But Richard Deturi of Tulare didn't see it that way.

Deturi said, "Help the workers get a decent wage to live on to buy their clothes, to buy food and they can go out to eat."

Ag leaders worried the wage increase may jeopardize the future of valley farms because so many run on small margins.

Fresno County Ag Commissioner Les Wright called it, "A kick to the face and a kick to the butt today. I mean what else we gonna do to the farmers?"

Others worried farmers may ultimately move some production out of California and into other countries because of rising labor costs.

Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen explained, "Obviously our farmers can't get up and move their land and this sunshine and water to other places but the fact of the matter remains is that we're likely going to continue to offshore production of agricultural goods for this nation and I think that's something Americans that need to make a conscious decision of. Is that what they want to do?"

A clause in the minimum wage bill would allow Governor Brown to halt the wage increases in the event of a recession.

On the opposite coast, the governor of New York also signed a bill to ultimately raise the minimum wage there to $15 an hour.

Related Topics:
societyagriculturefresno countyminimum wagetulare countycentral valleyTulareFresno
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