Senator Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C, Elma) and members of the Senate Minority Conference have sent a letter to the Farm Laborers Wage Board, urging board members to vote against the reduction of the overtime threshold beyond the current 60 hours established in the Farm Laborer Fair Labor Practices Act (FLFLPA) of 2019.
In January, the wage board will revisit the issue and make a determination on whether to lower the threshold to 40 hours.
“In representing one of the most agricultural districts in the state, I have learned that farms do not have a standard eight-hour workday and cannot accommodate a rigid factory-like schedule. Everyone who works in agriculture understands this, including farm workers,” Senator Gallivan said. “Farmers across the state have legitimate concerns about the proposed reduction and the negative impact it will have on their small businesses. Many family farms are already struggling economically. We need to support them and the entire agriculture industry which is so vital to New York’s economy.”
Ninety-six percent of farms in New York State, most of which are family-owned, are unable to cover the costs of paying overtime. A threshold reduction would result in less hours for employees to work and smaller paychecks. With farms being local economic engines, this Albany mandate would have devastating effects on communities across New York State.
In their letter, the legislators cited a recent study conducted at Cornell University. The study found that if the overtime threshold was lowered to 40 hours, two-thirds of dairy farmers would make significant changes to their operation, including leaving the industry or investing out of state and half of fruit and vegetable farmers indicated they would decrease their operations or exit the industry.