The future of agriculture locally may be in the hands of a three-member board. The decision they make will impact our farms immediately.
The decision to be made — should the overtime threshold for farm labor move from 60 hours to 40 hours? The answer — no. According to a study from Cornell’s Dyson School and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (commissioned by New York State) 72 percent of workers stated they would not remain in their current job; 70 percent of guest workers stated they would seek work in other states. Owners of one-half of fruit and vegetable farms and two-thirds of dairy farms would redirect their operations.
Otsego County farmers and their representatives wait anxiously as New York’s Department of Labor inches toward establishing its overtime work threshold for farm workers across the state — a decision that could come soon.
Assemblyman Chris Tague (R), whose district includes a broad swath of the county and a former dairy farmer himself, isn’t optimistic about the outcome.
“I was disappointed when I listened to Governor Hochul’s State of the State message last week,” he said. “When she started talking about increasing tax credits for farmers to offset operating costs, to me, that was a private message that the Wage Board will drop the overtime threshold.”
The New York State Department of Labor announced that a virtual hearing to discuss the overtime threshold for farm workers will take place on Tuesday, January 4, at 3:30 p.m.
The main topic of discussion will be whether the required hours of overtime for farm workers should be lowered from 60 to 40.
Members of the Farm Laborers Wage Board which include New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher, and former president of the New York State AFL-CIO Denis Hughes, will be present at the meeting.