ALBANY – A bill to stop New York’s Farm Laborer Wage Board’s recommendation that will raise overtime costs for the agriculture industry was voted down this week.
New York State Senator George Borrello, a vocal opponent to the decision to lower the overtime threshold, introduced the hostile amendment.
“The farmers I’ve spoken with in my district are dedicated to their work, but are finding it harder to stay afloat financially due to a combination of market changes and burdensome policies coming from Albany,” Senator Borrello said in a statement. “With our agriculture industry poised for more pain because the unelected members of the Farm Laborer Wage Board recommended lowering the overtime threshold, I led a hostile amendment on the senate floor that would eliminate this board and its ability to further harm this vital industry.”
In January, the Wage Board recommended lowering the threshold from 60 hours per week to 40 hours per week. Borrello blasted the decision, citing pushback from farmers and agriculture producers who say the resulting hike in labor costs will decimate agriculture in New York.
“This is an agenda-driven measure by New York City legislators who don’t understand farm operations or the desire of farm workers to maximize their working hours during peak season so they can send money home to their families,” Borrello continued. “The Wage Board ignored the testimony of farmers, farm workers and a report from Cornell University warning that lowering the overtime threshold will result in less hours and money for farm laborers and threaten the future of farming in New York.
Senate did pass a series of bills Borrello co-sponsored to support farmers this week, including:
- The Locally Sourced Goods for Schools Bill (S.3974), sponsored by Sen. Tim Kennedy, to make it easier for school districts to buy local farm products for school lunches;
- The Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Act (S.4082), sponsored by Sen. Michelle Hinchey, to expand eligibility for the New York State Young Farmer Loan Forgiveness Program;
- The Farm Workforce Retention Credit Increase Bill (S.3502-A), sponsored by Sen. Hinchey, to double the farm workforce retention credit from $600 to $1,200 per farm worker for tax years 2021 through 2025; and
- The New York State Food Products Bill (S.6808-A), sponsored by Sen. Hinchey, to increase the purchase of New York farm products by state agencies and facilities.