Reforms could threaten the future of family farms in New York State
(WHITNEY POINT, NY) Senator George Borrello, the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate District 52 Candidate Rich David joined farm owners Scott Glezen of Glezen Farms and Lester Price at Price Farm in Whitney Point to call on Governor Kathy Hochul and State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon to reject the farmworker wage board recommendation to lower the overtime threshold for farmworkers from 60 hours to 40 hours.
Their call to maintain the current overtime rules comes as the agriculture community awaits a final decision from the Governor and Labor Commissioner on whether to accept the Wage Board’s January recommendation to lower the threshold to 40 hours a week over the next decade. The Wage Board’s decision was in direct contrast to the overwhelming amount of data, research and testimony presented over the past year, which found that a lower threshold would hurt the earning power of farm workers, devastate and ultimately downsize the state’s already-declining farm industry.
“New York’s agricultural sector is an invaluable part of our economy and one that is already operating under some of the most burdensome costs and regulations in the nation,” said Senator Borrello. “Total farm labor costs as a percentage of farm income in New York are approximately double the national average. Even before farmers had to cope with the new challenges of the Farm Labor Act and the transition to the 60-hour overtime threshold, they were under financial strain. Lowering the threshold to 40 hours would force many out of business, which would be tragic for many farm families and for our state,” said Senator George Borrello, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“The agriculture economy plays such a critical role in our Upstate communities. That’s why it’s so important to create an atmosphere where these businesses can be successful while overcoming the market forces that have put so many family farms and larger operations in jeopardy.” said Rich David, Candidate for the 52nd Senate District. “We fear this will be another unforced error by state leaders that will bankrupt these businesses. We can’t let unelected bureaucrats in Albany who have no idea how to operate a farm pass down these burdensome mandates.”
“We’ve been in business for almost a half century and there’s been challenges along the way as a small family farm,” said Lester Price, owner of Price Farm. “ It’s not always easy work but we love what we do. It’s my hope that our elected officials will listen to our needs and advocate on our behalf as we serve our communities.”
“When will our leaders in Albany stop taking agriculture for granted? We have to remember that there is no food without farms. Importing food products from overseas will hurt everyday New Yorkers who rely on us and hurt those who make a living doing the challenging work we do,” said Scott Glezen, owner of Glezen Farms. “Our farm is constantly battling high input costs and this bad policy will only make them go up. My family is urging the Governor to reject this new proposal.”
Statewide advocacy groups have also urged the Governor to maintain the 60-hour overtime threshold including the Grow NY Farms Coalition, the Business Council of New York State (BCNYS), the National Federation of Independent Businesses of New York (NFIB), and Upstate United.
“There is simply no question about it: raising the threshold would be a losing scenario for everyone involved, which is why any further changes must be rejected. I urge the governor and the labor commissioner to let the facts and common sense prevail over the harmful agenda of the New York City activists pushing for a lower threshold. The future of farming hangs in the balance,” concluded Senator Borrello.