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The following letter to the editor was published in the New York Daily News on Sunday, August 28, 2022.

Don’t forget about the pressures on small farms
New Paltz, N.Y.: Re “A farmer who’s for fair pay for farmworkers” (op-ed, Aug. 22): Lowering the farmworker overtime threshold will drastically hurt my small organic farm and the six people I employ. It all comes down to economics and what my employees say that they want and need.

I compete against farms from across the Northeast in the green markets of New York City. My costs are up across the board. On the flip side, I can’t simply raise my prices and not lose business to farm stands in the market from states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey that have significantly lower wage rates and no overtime. I have talked about this with my longtime employees, four of whom said they would leave if I must reduce their hours in order to control the high costs of farming. It won’t be a punishment, nor is it out of lack of respect for all that they do, but simply because we look at our income and expense sheets to inform decisions that help us stay in business.

Todd Cavallo’s article fails to take any of this into account. He also suggests that a 10-year phase-in and tax credit will be beneficial. However, it pains me that the phase-in proposal, while intended to help give us time to adapt to the threshold changes, will just incrementally reduce hours and earnings for farmworkers over that timeframe.

Any change to the overtime threshold must be done at the federal level to make it an even playing field for family businesses.

Kira Kinney

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