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LETTER: Overtime changes threaten agricultural community

Posted 9/1/22

A New York State Farm Labor Wage Board is submitting a report that will ultimately hurt the important men and women who work on our farms. Just two years ago, the state enacted sweeping farm labor …

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LETTER: Overtime changes threaten agricultural community

Posted

A New York State Farm Labor Wage Board is submitting a report that will ultimately hurt the important men and women who work on our farms.

Just two years ago, the state enacted sweeping farm labor protections, including an overtime threshold of 60-hours for farm workers. This supported the uniqueness of agriculture, particularly during peak harvest seasons, where farm work can’t be confined to a 40-hour work week. It also understood that most New York farms cannot pass along rising labor costs to customers, especially when inflation is already high, and expect to remain competitive in the marketplace against food from other states and countries that have much lower wage rates and no overtime for farm workers.

The wage board recommendation to now lower the overtime threshold to 40 hours would force farms to reduce employee hours to contain costs, thereby reducing farm worker income. A Cornell study found 72-percent of farm workers would then seek work elsewhere if they can’t get the hours and income they want here. This will only compound the labor shortage, making it harder to produce local food and support our local economies.

We ask New York State to support the farm community and stay at 60.

-- John Collins, president,
Oneida County Farm Bureau, Rome

-- Jill Williamson, NYFB County Support Office, Auburn 

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