News of Otsego County

The View From Albany

SEWARD: More Thank Ever, Shop Locally This Christmas

More Thank Ever, Shop

Locally This Christmas

James L. Seward

The holiday shopping season is in full swing and we are being hit from all sides with a seemingly endless barrage of commercials and promotions. While there are a number of factors shoppers use to evaluate potential purchases, one that should be kept in mind is where products are made.

Shopping our local Main Streets is one of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit and help spark the local economy. The recent Small Business Saturday was a great opportunity to promote all of the terrific products our locally owned businesses offer.

This year, it is vital that we find ways to support our locally owned small businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many businesses struggling to stay open. Additionally, the cost to do business has increased sharply with new safeguards and restrictions putting increased pressure on the bottom line for many.

Many of our local business organizations and chambers of commerce are sponsoring special promotions to assist small businesses and get the word out about their unique offerings. Whenever possible, I hope you are able to meet your holiday shopping needs at one of our many amazing small businesses.

Certainly, once you see what they have to offer, you will be visiting our small businesses year-‘round.

You can further add to the holiday cheer by making sure purchases include a “Made in U.S.A.” label. In fact, December is national “Made in America Month.”

President Ronald Reagan made the declaration in 1985 in an attempt to boost national pride and the national economy. In making the proclamation, President Reagan stated in part, “It is time for consumers both here and abroad to take a fresh look at what America has to offer.

SEWARD: On 11/11, Remember Corporal Mayne

On November 11,

Remember Corporal Mayne

Corporal Mayne

On Veterans Day, Americans should pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by our veterans. Whether combat veterans or Cold War veterans, all who served need to be given proper praise for a job well done.

Our veterans have faced hardships that a non-veteran could never fully understand. Some have faced death in defending our nation’s freedom. Veterans possess the core American values of loyalty, duty, respect, honor, selfless service, personal courage and integrity.

We need to teach our children the true meaning of Veterans Day and the best way to do so is for adults to set a good example. We must keep the torch of memory alive and never forget the sacrifices of our veterans. The youth of today need to learn about the heroes of yesterday.

Veterans deserve to know that we appreciate their service. We must let our veterans know that we truly believe America is better because of their sacrifices. Take the time to thank a veteran, not just on

Veterans Day, but any time you meet a veteran.

State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, has represented Otsego County in Albany since 1985.

I have consistently worked to protect the rights and benefits of our brave service men and women who have sacrificed so much to defend our freedoms and keep our families safe. In recent years, I have focused on programs and laws that will help veterans find employment following their service to our country. Several laws to reduce taxes for veterans and improve healthcare have also been enacted.

Recently, it was my great honor to dedicate a portion of a state highway in my senate district in memory of Marine Corps Sergeant John Kempe Winslow. Sergeant Winslow was a life-long resident of Hartwick and a decorated Marine Sergeant who served two tours of duty in Vietnam.

Sergeant Winslow was wounded during his first tour in Vietnam and was awarded the Purple Heart for his heroic service. For many, that may have marked the end of their days in uniform, but not John. After several months recovering in a New York hospital, he was ready to continue his service to country.

Sergeant Winslow returned to Vietnam for a second tour and was killed in action in July of 1969.

Now it is my honor to pay tribute to another local man who gave his life in service to our country.

Every year, the state senate enshrines New York’s prominent veterans in the state Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame. The hall of fame honors outstanding veterans from the Empire State who have distinguished themselves both in military and civilian life.

This year’s honoree from the 51st Senate District is Cpl. Michael L. Mayne of Burlington Flats. Michael proudly served in the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, a unit of the 25th Infantry Division based at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Corporal Mayne tragically lost his life, along with two other American soldiers and a translator on Feb. 23, 2009, in Balad, Iraq when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.

Prior to his service to his country, Michael had already left an indelible mark on his hometown that will last for generations to come.

On Memorial Day 2003, he unveiled a very special Eagle Scout project in memorial park in his hometown – flagpoles for each branch of the military. To this day, flags representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and the United States continue to wave.

A memorial to Michael has since been installed underneath the flags he so proudly conceived and built.
You can read more about Corporal Mayne and the rest of the hall of fame inductees on-line, at

While generations apart, both Sergeant Winslow and Corporal Mayne displayed great courage and valor in service to our nation. They are both true American heroes.

SEWARD: End Crisis, Then Revisit Farm Wages


End COVID Crisis,

Then Revisit Farm Wages

State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, has represented Otsego County in Albany since 1985.

As we continue to navigate our way through the COVID- 19 pandemic, everyone is making adjustments. Whether it is at home, at work, or any other daily activity, we are doing things differently.

One business in particular that has been hard hit is farming.

Our farmers, who contend with a host of difficulties on a regular basis, are coping with a number of new complications. Certainly, it is not the time to add to the list, but that is exactly what the state is considering.

Last year, during the final days of the state legislative session, the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act was approved. The bill, which I strongly opposed, included several new labor mandates. The bill requires overtime pay for workers who work more than six days per week (regardless of hours), requires overtime pay for workers who exceed a 60-hour work week, and mandates a day of rest in every calendar week.

Farmworkers deserve a fair wage and time off; however, there are certain conditions that make farming a unique business, especially in New York State. Short growing seasons and weather conditions are considerable factors that farmers must contend with, and cows do not stop producing milk on Sunday.

Long workdays are a way of life and a 40-hour work week is rare.

At the time of the bill’s adoption, both farmers and farm workers opposed many of the provisions. During debate on the bill the state Senate sponsor, a freshman senator from Queens, was asked how many farmers  she represented. Her answer,

“I can count on my hand the number of roof-top apiaries that are in my district.” The bill was not written with our Upstate family farms in mind. New York farmers face strict regulations and are subject to regular inspections by state and federal authorities. Farmers also provide their workers with quality pay and, in many cases, other benefits like housing and food. Farming is a unique business and must be treated as such.

The new law also mandated that the state Labor Commissioner establish a farmworkers’ wage board to examine the overtime pay threshold and consider whether it should be lowered even further. The current three-member board includes state AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes, Buffalo Urban League President Brenda McDuffie and New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher.

The economy-wide overtime requirements in place for only eight months, it is incomprehensible to me that regulations that are even more stringent are already being contemplated.

Additionally, with restaurants operating at a lower capacity and schools holding classes online thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for many products grown by our farmers has dropped substantially.

The wage board has one hearing remaining, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30. The hearing will be conducted virtually and anyone interested can view the proceedings. If you are interested in testifying, that option is available as well by signing up at Finally, written testimony will be accepted by the wage board through October 31 at

Additionally, I am co-sponsoring legislation (S.8944) which would extend the date that the wage board’s report must be submitted from Dec. 31, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2024. This would allow for the collection of four years of data to provide a truer picture of the impact of the 60-hour threshold on the finances and operations of New York farms.

The measure would also require the board to consider additional factors, including wage and overtime rates in neighboring states, the impact that COVID-19 has had on the agricultural industry, total compensation, including other benefits such as housing and insurance, and the supply and demand of farm employees.

Farmers have spent the past few months doing exactly what they always do – overcoming difficult circumstances to feed our communities and the nation while sustaining our state’s economy. Now it is time for the state to exercise commonsense rather than adding new obstacles that could harm farmers and farmworkers alike.

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