The future of agriculture locally may be in the hands of a three-member board. The decision they make will impact our farms immediately. The decision to be made – should the overtime threshold for farm labor move from 60 hours to 40 hours? The answer – no. According to a study from Cornell’s Dyson School and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (commissioned by New York State), 72% of workers stated they would not remain in their current job; 70% of guest workers stated they would seek work in other states, and owners of half of fruits and vegetable farms and two-thirds of dairy farms would redirect their operations.
We cannot afford to lose more farms in New York. We cannot afford to lose those family businesses that have been a part of our communities for generations. The economic impact starts with the farms, but the effect is far-reaching, long-lasting, and likely irreparable to our communities. The answer is simple – do not change the threshold. This decision is supported by the New York Farm Bureau, the Grow NY Farms Coalition, and chairs of the Agriculture Committees in the Assembly and Senate.
This is a moment for responsive government leadership. We need the wage board to get this decision right and support the needs of our farmers and the voices of its workers.
Note: I am running for the NYS Assembly. Oneonta is currently in the 121st district, and the redistricting process may link Oneonta and Little Falls in the same district.