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Owasco farm under investigation for worker living conditions

Nicole Catalfano said she wanted to cry.

Four adults and five children have been living in squalor on a dairy farm in Owasco since December, and Catalfano helped them pack up their belongings Friday and leave.

With temperatures dropping and a light sprinkle falling, young women and children carried out hampers and trash bags filled with food and clothes through the mud and to a van. A few baby calves looked out from their hutches at a nearby fenced-in area, while Melrose Farm owner Joe Tidd and his wife looked on, shaking their heads in disbelief.

The house for migrant workers on Melrose Road looks like a barn structure turned into living quarters. The bedroom ceilings are so low that most people can't stand up straight, and stained mattresses without bedding lay plopped on a dirty floor. The upstairs bedroom is a converted attic with sloping ceilings to an apex. Walls, ceilings and floors are made mostly from particle board, and mold and dirt cake the floors, carpet and cabinets. A sickly sweet manure and urine smell permeates the rooms, which have sheets covering the windows.

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