Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I-Schoharie) is imploring members of the Farm Laborers Wage Board, New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon and Gov. Hochul not to move forward with reducing the farm laborer overtime threshold from 60 hours to 40. The board is preparing to reconvene Sept. 6 to vote on its final report on the topic.
Tague has joined farmers, agri-business owners, and agricultural advocates in opposing this proposal for months, as they have warned that such a decision could jeopardize the viability of New York’s farms, which already operate on razor-thin profit margins. A report by Farm Credit East has stated that the total cost of lowering the overtime threshold to 40 hours, coupled with minimum wage increases, would result in a spike in labor costs by over 40% for the state’s farms.
“The lowering of this threshold would devastate not only our farms, but our rural communities as well, and the consequences of this decision would impact anyone who shops at a grocery store,” said Tague. “Even if some farmers are able to figure out a way to make ends meet while contending with their increased labor costs, many will have no choice but to grow crops that aren’t labor intensive, such as corn, and no longer grow crops that are, such as fruits. Any way you look at it, the lowering of the farm laborer overtime threshold would jeopardize the existence of agriculture in New York as we know it today, and it’s incredibly important that people understand that impact will be felt by producers and consumers alike.”
The wage board had recommended lowering the farm laborer threshold earlier this year but has not yet released a final report making regulatory recommendations. If they do recommend lowering the threshold in their final report, Labor Commissioner Reardon will then have 45 days to review the report and accept or reject their recommendations. If Reardon advances their recommendations, it would then be up to Gov. Hochul to decide whether or not they should be signed into law.
Tague is encouraging New Yorkers to reach out to Gov. Hochul and Labor Commissioner Reardon to demand they reconsider this decision and let them know just how important the continued viability of New York’s farms is to constituents and their communities.
Gov. Hochul office contact:
Online contact form: https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form
The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon office contact:
Department of Labor
State Office Bldg # 12
W.A. Harriman Campus
Albany, NY 12240