The following letter to the editor was originally published on September 12, 2022. The article…
Study finds New York farms and farmworkers will exit agriculture and state
The following statement can be attributed to Grow NY Farms:
“The Cornell University report makes it clear. Any lowering of the overtime threshold will unquestionably harm New York’s food supply and agriculture community. The independent report, funded by New York State and presented to the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, highlights exactly what farmers and farmworkers have long been warning of —lowering the overtime threshold will leave farms and farmworkers with no choice but to reconsider working and farming in New York State. The facts are undeniable. Those in favor of lowering the threshold are not listening to a majority of farmworkers, as this report has spoken directly with the men and women working side by side with us on our farms.
“Governor Hochul, we know you have New York’s best interests at heart. Please continue to prioritize our food system and support New York’s farmers and farmworkers. The 60-hour overtime threshold cannot be lowered.”
The report conducted by Cornell University examined the effects of the 60-hour overtime threshold on different farm operations in New York State and the impact a 50-hour threshold and a 40-hour threshold will have on the agriculture community. Critical findings from the report on the potential effects of 40-hour overtime threshold are:
- Two-thirds of Dairy farms interviewed indicated they would move out of milk production, direct future dairy investment to other states, invest outside of dairy, or exit agriculture entirely.
- Half of fruits and vegetable farms interviewed indicated they would shrink enterprises or exit the industry.
- Seventy-two percent of guest workers indicated that they would be less likely to do their current job if hours were capped at 40 per week
- Seventy percent of guest workers indicated that they would consider going to another state without capped hours if hours were limited in New York.
- It’s important to note that a majority of farm employment on fresh fruit and vegetables farms is filled by guest workers.
The Cornell University report findings are in line with findings from the recent Farm Credit East report forecasting insurmountable economic challenges for farms if the overtime threshold is lowered to 40 hours.
The full Cornell University report can be reviewed here.