Economic Development and Business Organizations Urge Gov. Hochul to Maintain Overtime Threshold at 60 Hours for Family Farms in New York State
Albany, NY – The Grow NY Farms Coalition today announced that the Business Council of…
Phone Calls Were Made to the Governor’s Office on Thursday, March 3, 2022
More Than 150 Agriculture and Business Organizations, and Family Farms Join the Grow NY Farms Coalition and Ask the Governor to #StayAt60
Albany, NY – Farmers and farmworkers from across New York State made calls to Governor Hochul’s office on Thursday, March 3 to ask the Governor to maintain the overtime threshold at 60 hours. They voiced concerns over skyrocketing inflation and tight margins, and explained why perishable products, caring for live animals 24/7, and unpredictable weather and a warming Northeast climate make a 60-hour overtime threshold necessary for an industry that’s unlike any other.
To date, more than 150 organizations representing New York’s agriculture industry, including the New York Apple Association, New York Association of Agricultural Educators, New York Farm Bureau, New York State Vegetable Growers Association, Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance, Northeast Dairy Producers Association, and other family farms and ag-related businesses, have joined the Grow NY Farms Coalition.
Farmers and farmworkers across New York State testified at public hearings to keep the overtime threshold at 60 hours. The Farm Laborers Wage Board voted two-to-one on January 28, immediately following the conclusion of the last public hearing, and recommended lowering the overtime threshold to 40 hours a week over the next decade. This two-to-one vote occurred despite more than 70% of testimony made by farmers and farmworkers asking for the threshold to stay at 60.
Research conducted by academics and industry experts was presented to the Farm Laborers Wage Board, and links to those presentations, which include data and science-based research, are included below:
Cornell Research Report: Click here to watch a video presentation by Cornell University E. V. Baker Professor of Agricultural Economics Chris Wolf.
Cornell Testimony: Click here to watch a video presentation by Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development Director Dr. Richard Stup.
Farm Credit East Report: Click here to watch a video presentation by Farm Credit East.
Additionally, and as explained in detail by industry professionals, experts, and researchers during testimony – New York’s agriculture industry, growing seasons, and climate cannot be compared to California or other states. Yet, the unintended consequences of overtime and limiting hours seem to be universal. Speaking recently with Good Fruit Grower Magazine, nearly two dozen farmworkers shared how limited hours have affected their lives out on the West Coast.
And in Kern County, California, farmworkers and growers explained how they too are dissatisfied after overtime changes were implemented.
Domain Velasquez, a farmworker in Jefferson County said, “My team is very happy working in agriculture and we enjoy working with the cows. We all want 60 hours of work. I know the farm will have to cut hours and my people will leave the state for more work. We have good wages, housing, and bonuses. If the farm cannot continue, I will be forced to find another job and move my family. The proposal for fewer hours will not be good for anyone. We want hours to stay at 60 hours.” Click here to watch a video of Velasquez testifying before the Wage Board.
Mike McMahon, a fifth-generation farmer, and partner at EZ Acres in Cortland County said, “I called Governor Hochul to ask her to keep the overtime threshold at 60 hours. The already negotiated threshold allows family farms to care for livestock, plant and harvest crops when the time is right, and provide the hours of work our employees are asking for. Our elected leaders must support the state’s diverse agriculture industry, which works with our Departments of Ag & Markets, Health, and Environmental Conservation to ensure our people, animals, and land receive the highest quality care. We need to support the viability of our own rural communities here in New York. It’s a matter of food security – we don’t want to rely on food and goods being imported through the volatile and less regulated international markets.” Click here to watch a video of McMahon testifying before the Wage Board.
Natasha Stein Sutherland, a ninth-generation dairy farmer, and partner at Stein Farms LLC in Genesee County, said, “Our employees want to work more than 40 hours a week and we want to pay them for it, but we cannot absorb time-and-a-half for 10 or 20 hours for every team member. New York farmers harvest commodities like milk, fruit, and vegetables, which means we cannot pass increased costs onto consumers like every other industry. We are price takers, not price setters. Mother Nature dictates when fruits and vegetables come ripe, and they must be harvested as soon as they are ready. Farms also cannot rely on puny tax reimbursements that may or may not be paid back months later. I called Governor Hochul to tell her that the threshold must stay at 60 hours, so we can continue farming, retain our skilled workers, and continue feeding New Yorkers.” Click here to watch a video of Sutherland testifying before the Wage Board.
Visit www.GrowNYFarms.com to learn more, and for a full list of organizations and family farms asking Governor Kathy Hochul to #StayAt60.