Walsh: Listen To The Farmers, Don’t Lower Overtime Threshold

Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R,C-Ballston) joined her Minority colleagues on Tuesday to once again call on Gov. Hochul and Labor Commissioner Reardon to not adhere to the Wage Board’s recommendation of lowering the overtime threshold from 60 to 40 hours. The lawmakers were also joined by Jeff Williams, New York State Farm Bureau Director of Public Policy, Brian Reeves, President of NYS Vegetable Growers Association and owner of Reeves Farm, Sarah Dressel-Nickles, owner of Dressel Farms and Nate Chittenden, co-owner of Dutch Hollow Farm. Members of the agriculture industry warn of the economic devastation that would occur if Gov. Hochul decides to implement the lower 40-hour threshold.

“Here in Albany, we have been sounding the alarm about the short-sighted recommendation that came out of the Farm Laborers Wage Board just weeks ago. 70% of testimony given in front of the board by farmers and their workers was in support of keeping the current threshold at 60 hours.

“Today, we heard agriculture industry leaders and farmers echo the concerns we have been talking about in the press. With 98 percent of New York farms operating as small family farms rather than faceless conglomerates, our farmers are operating at razor-thin profit margins, if not deficits. The pandemic, 40-year high inflation, supply chain issues and burdensome regulations out of Albany have all contributed to a hostile environment for our farmers. Lowering the threshold will undoubtedly be a blow at a time when our farmers need us most.

“Join me, my colleagues, farm industry leaders and, most importantly, our great farmers in calling on Gov. Hochul and Labor Commissioner Reardon to reject the recommendation to lower the overtime threshold. The future of farming in New York depends on it,” said Walsh.