Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I-Schoharie) has spearheaded the drafting of a letter with his Assembly and Senate Minority Colleagues imploring Gov. Hochul and Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon to reject a further reduction in the farm laborer overtime threshold from 60 hours to 40.
Tague, the ranking Minority member of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, has been working with farmers, farm laborers, and other agricultural professionals for months to educate policymakers about the cataclysmic effects the implementation of such a threshold reduction would have on the agricultural industry as a whole, and why it would force countless farms throughout the state to close for good.
In speaking with farmers, Tague has heard overwhelming opposition to this proposal, as the nature of farm work is incredibly unpredictable, weather-dependent and difficult to complete within a plannable 40-hour work week. Given the small profit margins most farms operate on in the present, the large increase to labor costs due to a reduction in the overtime threshold may prove to be too much to bear for many farmers, especially small and family farms.
“The fate of farming and agriculture in New York State rests in the hands of two people, Gov. Hochul and Commissioner Reardon,” said Tague. “They alone have the power to block the disappointing decision of the Farm Laborers Wage Board to lower the threshold. The time has come for them to decide if they stand for our state’s farmers or the political interests that rammed this proposal through the bureaucratic process. If we have no farms, we have no food. I implore the governor and labor commissioner to do the right thing and not bite the hands that feed us.”