Assemblyman Jeff Gallahan (R,C-Manchester) is voicing concern for the well-being of small farms in New York state following a 2-1 decision on Friday by the Farm Laborers Wage Board to lower the farm laborer overtime threshold from 60 hours to 40. Gallahan has joined members of the agricultural community in voicing his opposition to this proposal throughout the last several months, as farms operate on weather and crop-dependent schedules that make planning a 40-hour work week unrealistic.
“Farms operate at the mercy of the elements, and when a storm is coming, it’s an all hands on deck effort to save the harvest and prevent a farm’s financial ruin,” said Gallahan. “During peak points of the season, working more than 40 hours is a given if a farm’s crops and animals are to be properly tended to, and given the slim margins most farms operate on currently, the increase in labor costs this would bring could force farms we’ve known and loved for generations to close their doors. If the increased labor costs weren’t enough of a burden on their own, the lowering of the threshold will put our farmers at a distinct selling price disadvantage compared to farms in neighboring states, leaving them unable to compete. If we lose our farms, we lose our farm labor jobs. I fear this decision will hurt not only farmers, but the very farm workers it was intended to benefit.”