ALBANY, NY (WENY) – Next Tuesday the Farm Wage Board will make a recommendation to reduce the overtime threshold from 60 hours to 40 hours. And local members of the farming community worry about what this could mean for them.
“Farming is the engine behind the many communities across New York and the United States,” said Lindsay Wickham, County Farm Bureau Relations & Development Manager at the New York Farm Bureau. “If we keep getting pinched in New York state, especially where the cost of business is already so high, and we add on additional labor costs to farms it’s gonna be devastating.”
Farms continue to face challenges with the impact of inflation and they are worried that capping overtime could add more financial pressures including higher production costs, the ability to be competitive in the market, and having access to labor. And local lawmakers have said they share New York state farmers’ concerns.
“This is going to add substantial costs to farming when New York already far exceeds the average cost of farm labor,” said Sen. Tom O’Mara.
O’Mara added that if Gov. Kathy Hochul does not reject this reduction recommendation, the consequences could impact more than just farms. It could impact the economy overall.
This issue could even push farmers out of the state of New York. According to a recent study from Cornell University, seventy percent of workers indicated they would consider going to another state without capped hours.
“It’s definitely a bigger picture than just repercussions facing farms, it will impact the greater rural economy throughout the Elmira area,” said Steve Ammerman, Director of Communications at the New York Farm Bureau.