Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) is joining his Minority colleagues, members of the Farm Bureau, farm workers and farmers in calling on Gov. Hochul to keep the farm overtime threshold at 60 hours. Members of the Farm Laborers Wage Board are expected to deliver a final recommendation on Sept. 6; however, 70% of public testimony delivered in front of the board was in support of keeping the current threshold at 60 hours.
The numbers show a devastating picture for our farmers if Gov. Hochul acts on lowering the overtime threshold from 60 to 40 hours. A Farm Credit East study predicts that annual costs to farmers statewide will increase by $129 million, farm labor costs will increase by 42%, and net farm income will decrease by 20%. A Cornell University study showed that 70% of migrant workers would seek opportunities in other states to increase their earning potential if the threshold were lowered.
“Farmers have faced historic headwinds and one of the most unfriendly business environments in the country,” said Palmesano. “The Wage Laborer Board has failed to consider that before the Farm Labor Act was passed in 2019, farm labor costs in New York as a percentage of net farm income were already 63%, compared to just 36% nationally. Our farmers have been at a competitive disadvantage for years.”
More than 98% of farms in our state are considered family farms. These operations have been run through the same families for generations, and with a decrease of the overtime threshold, we are in danger of losing them forever in our various communities.
“I have said it before, and I will continue to remind Gov. Hochul, if there are no farms, there are no farmworkers. If there are no farms, there is no food. Let’s be clear, the fate of the family farm in New York rests squarely in the hands of Gov. Hochul,” said Palmesano.
Palmesano is urging residents to call the governor’s office at 518-474-8390 and Labor Commissioner Reardon’s office at 518-457-9000 to ask them to preserve the family farm in New York State and not reduce the overtime threshold. It is important to remind them, NO FARMS, NO FARMWORKERS. NO FARMS, NO FOOD.