Norris Calls on State Labor Commissioner to Reject Plan to Reduce Farm Workweek

A Legislative Column from Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,C-Lockport)

Agriculture remains our number one industry in New York State. Our land and small family farms produce an abundant yield of crops and products, and we are very fortunate here to have such access to them. 

A few weeks ago, the Farm Laborers Wage Board recommended to lower the overtime threshold for farm workers over a ten-year period to 40 hours per week. This issue has been adamantly opposed by farmers and farm workers alike since it was first conceived at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic’s food shortages. Farm workers have even testified that if they cannot get the work, they need here in New York, they will relocate to states without such burdensome regulations.

I opposed the creation of this Board from the beginning and recognized the devastating impact it would have on our agricultural industry. Farm work is unique and unpredictable based upon weather and seasonal conditions. There’s the harvest and planting season, both necessitating longer hours and you make hay while the sun shines.

Despite these distinctive industrial circumstances, the board submitted this recommendation to the state labor commissioner for her final approval. I urge the commissioner to reject this recommendation to save our family farms.

You also have an opportunity to share your voice on this important issue, but the window is rapidly closing.

To submit a comment, you can email or write to New York State Department of Labor, W. Averill Harriman State Office Campus, Building 12, Room 509, Albany, NY 12240.

Though the state was required to publish notice of this public comment period in at least 10 newspapers in the state, they could have done more to get the word out. That’s why I want to make sure constituents of the 144th Assembly District are aware and have a chance to have their voices heard. She will decide in October.