NFIB/New York Member Profile: Minkus Family Farms

Date: August 16, 2017

Rick Minkus raised his first 10 acres of onions in high school. After he graduated, Minkus worked at a community farm co-op and tried dairy farming, but he kept tending to his crops. Later, Minkus invested in a 60 acre onion farm with a partner, and grew that farm to 120 acres. In 2002, Minkus decided to become the sole business owner after his partner retired. Since then, Minkus’ sons, Joe and Tom, joined the family business and the farm has grown to over 1,500 acres.

Minkus Family Farms grows yellow and red onions, and distributes squash and potatoes from the Black Dirt region of southern Orange County, New York. Minkus now manages around 54 employees. “We just crossed over that 50 mark this year,” said Dylan Dembeck, Minkus’ son-in-law and the director of operations on the farm. “Next year, we qualify as a full-time equivalent so we will have to offer healthcare after this calendar, which is essentially a tax on our business in a whole.”

Healthcare is a big challenge for Minkus’ small business. Last year, Minkus and Dembeck managed around exceeding 50 employees because they weren’t certain they’d be able to afford offering healthcare. But Minkus couldn’t put off hiring for another year, although finding enough qualified labor is also an issue in his industry.

For Minkus Family Farms, competing with Canada’s shipment of onions into New York markets is a pressing concern. “They drive the price down, making it harder for the smaller growers in the area to compete with them,” explained Dembeck.

Minkus Family Farms became an NFIB member because they wanted their voice to be heard on issues like regulations, taxes, and healthcare, which all impact how the farm operates.

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