JAMESTOWN – Local Representatives in Albany are proposing legislation that would help farmers already struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a virtual press conference on Monday, State Senator George Borrello announced legislation that would give the state more time to study the effects of the recent overtime threshold change.
The change, part of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, required farmers starting on January 1, 2020, to pay farm workers overtime pay once they clock in more than 60 hours in the week.
Borrello says if New York’s Wage Labor Board decides to lower this threshold, it would cripple New York’s family farms.
“The COVID-19 crisis created fresh financial hardships for farmers and unprecedented disruptions to the food supply chain. Not only would it be terribly unfair to add to their difficulties right now, this season has been anomaly, so it would be a mistake to base any long-term decisions on this year’s experiences,” said Borrello. “For these and so many reasons, we need to hit the pause button on this premature effort to evaluate a brand-new law. While repeal of the law is the ultimate goal, our effort right now is to prevent further damage and bring common sense to this issue by delaying any decision on the 60-hour threshold until 2024.”
According to a survey conducted by the State Farm Bureau, around 43% of farms reported to have lost sales during the pandemic due to a decrease in product demands.
Currently, the Farm Laborers Wage Board has until December 31st to issue their recommendations on the overtime threshold.