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ALBANY, NY (WENY) — Monday Gov. Kathy Hochul convened an inter-agency task force to address challenges in New York farming communities–over two months after the Department of Labor reduced the statewide overtime threshold for farm workers.
Some members of the farming community said the task force will help farmers operate better. Jeff Williams, Director of Public Policy for New York Farm Bureau, said the task force essentially brings all of the state agencies together to help address the challenges farmers are currently facing.
“To bring all those agencies into the room to talk about ways to ease red-tape and costs on farms. So, regulatory relief is really what it’s all about,” Williams said.
The task force will initially focus on topics like transportation, labor, the environment, housing for workers, farmland protection, and expanding procurement.
Williams highlighted housing for workers. In the wake of the Department of Labor’s decision to reduce the overtime threshold from 60 hours to 40 hours, Williams said many farmers will have to bring in more employees which means they have to create more housing. He said this process can be very expensive and farm workers will need help.
Williams added that the cost of operating a farm in New York is higher than other states. He said the task force will help evaluate the generators of these high costs and how they can be addressed.
He hopes this will ultimately help farms grow.
“If we can save farmers money that means that’s more money they put in their pocket and not have to compete against Pennsylvania, for example, or Ohio,” he said.
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