County officials: Maui farm fines from feds unfair

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - County officials say it's unfair for the federal government to fine Maui farms for wage violations because most farmers aren't aware of the rules.

The U.S. Department of Labor last year fined four upcountry farms and one farm labor contractor because investigators found field workers weren't being paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The department also cited farms for other violations, including unsafe transportation for workers.

The Maui News reported Monday representatives from the Maui County Office of Economic Development and the Maui County Farm Bureau say the investigation was unfair when most farmers on the island aren't informed or educated about federal standards.

Economic Development Coordinator Teena Rasmussen notes the labor department doesn't have a Maui district office and hasn't done enough outreach.

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