Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I-Schoharie) today held a press conference in Albany where lawmakers, farmers and agricultural advocates urged Gov. Hochul and Commissioner of Labor Roberta Reardon to reject the implementation of a reduction in the farm laborer overtime threshold. For months, Tague has joined agricultural professionals in raising awareness of the consequences this decision would have on agriculture to policymakers, as farmers throughout the state have warned the threshold reduction could force countless farms across the state to close entirely.
Citing unpredictable and weather-dependent work schedules, the inability of farmers to effectively raise the prices of their produce to distributors, and the fierce competition farms face from operations in other states who are able to keep their prices lower due to more hospitable business environments, Tague and the event’s other speakers warned a decision to lower the farm laborer overtime threshold could prove to be a fatal one for agriculture as it’s known today in New York state.
“If our farms are left to die, existing solely as memories of better times in our state, it will be because of the conscious decision of our governor and labor commissioner to let this ill-conceived policy take effect,” said Tague. “They alone have the power at this point to reject the recommendation of the Farm Laborers Wage Board and listen to the chorus of farmers, agricultural professionals and farm laborers who’ve united against this dangerous proposal. If we lose our farms, our farm laborers will lose their jobs, so I urge Gov. Hochul and Commissioner Reardon to stand with our farmers and not bite the hands that feed us.”
“New York’s farmers are already dealing with one of the worst business climates in America. Putting any more strain on our agriculture industry is going to force already-struggling farmers to close shop, lay off workers or relocate for better opportunities,” said Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I-Pulaski). “We are calling on the governor to do what’s right by New York’s farming community and wholly reject the change as proposed. If enacted, the irreparable damage caused to family farms and the farming industry will fall squarely on the governor’s shoulders.”
“If the proposed changes to the overtime threshold go through, there is no doubt that farmers will need help from the state to survive,” said Nate Chittenden, co-owner of Dutch Hollow Farm in Schodack Landing. “Why do you want to create a subsidy that New York taxpayers will have to pay? Give our farms a chance to compete.”