Bookmark and Share July 13, 2010 - Dave Mulder

The perils of a small organic farmer in Maine

I’m not usually critical of government action. In most respects,¬†bureaucrats¬†enforce legislation that was written with good intention.

Sometimes, though, they go to far.

A small organic farmer in Maine pays his workers in produce. His workers are relatives,¬†and that’s not good enough.

But that’s not organic enough for the state Division of Labor Standards, which fined San Anselmo vegetable grower Jerome Draper for not paying his relatives in cash.

The first problem comes with the state’s definition of immediate family. His sister and her children don’t count, according to the state’s rules.

Draper’s sister and relatives often help out with odd jobs around the one-acre farm, but they are paid in homegrown produce, not cold hard cash.

That got Draper a $1,050 fine – in cold, hard cash, not tomatoes.

State labor law comes into play because Draper is using workers who aren’t getting a taxable salary, workers’ compensation and other state- and federally required documentation.

Filed under: , ,