Palmesano Reacts to Farm Workers’ Overtime Regulations Taking Effect

Statement by Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C-Corning)

“Farming as we know it in New York changed this week, and not for the better. With the new farm labor overtime regulations now in effect, family farms throughout the state will suffer. Lowering the threshold for overtime hours from 60 to 40 hours is wrong for New York farmers and farmworkers. At the hearing held by the Wage Board more than 70% of the testimony by both farmers and farmworkers was in support of keeping the overtime threshold at 60 hours.

The numbers paint a grim picture for our farmers. A Farm Credit East study predicts that the negative impact to farmers statewide will be devastating, with farm labor costs increasing by 42%, and net farm income decreasing 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. The Cornell study also showed that a whopping two-thirds of dairy farmers would consider leaving the industry entirely.

New York farmers have historically faced one of the most unfriendly business environments in the country. The Wage Laborer Board failed to consider that even 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.

More than 98% of farms in our state are considered family farms. These operations have been run through the same families for generations. Now with a decrease of the overtime threshold, we are in danger of losing more of our family farms forever.

As I have said so many times before, NO FARMS, NO FARMWORKERS. NO FARMS, NO FOOD. Today marks a truly sad day in the history of Farming in New York,” said Palmesano.