Assemblyman Brian Manktelow (R,C,I-Lyons) and members of the Minority Conference held a press conference at Windmill Farms in Ontario, New York to discuss their concerns about the recent changes to the farm overtime laborer threshold, which was recently approved by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Following the decision, farms will slowly begin transitioning from a 60-hour overtime threshold to 40 hours, which has created a coalition of farmers, agri-business owners, and agricultural advocates across the state who are opposed to the change as the fear for the future of New York’s family farms becomes increasingly high. With this change, farmers will no longer be able to afford to pay for supplies or the salaries of their farmhands and will either shut their doors or resort to less intensive labor crops. Either option will be detrimental to the industry and communities.
“As a previous farm owner, I understand the financial stress another farmer goes through daily, especially now. I will continue advocating for local farmers and I am proud my colleagues stood with me today to fight for their future. The overtime threshold will not only be devastating to farms but also to our communities and the workers whose lives will be affected if the farms cannot survive. The Farm Laborers Wage Board and Gov. Hochul have heard kickback on this for months but failed to listen to the farm owners and workers who are begging to be heard. They are the ones doing the work and the ones that deserve to be recognized,” said Manktelow.
“I'm proud to stand with my colleagues to share the detrimental impact of reduced overtime hours on our local farmers and communities across upstate New York,” said Assemblyman Josh Jensen (R,C-Greece). “I've heard from farmers in my district, and across the state, who say the proposed farmworker restrictions will have a devastating impact on small farms and communities, as well as on workers who will have their hours restricted and local residents who will see less local produce at their supermarket. As the backbone of our upstate economy, New York should be creating an environment where local farmers can thrive and prosper, not placing additional burdens on their backs.”
“It’s infuriating that the livelihoods and economic freedoms of agricultural workers is now upended by a bunch of city-based legislators who have likely never stepped foot on a farm in their lives,” Assemblyman John Lemondes (R,C,I-Lafayette) said. “The disservice done to farmers, who are now going to be even further economically disadvantaged, is a great injustice, and the worst example of aggressive, uninformed state oversight I have ever seen. Agriculture is this state’s number-one industry, and they’ve just hamstrung it generationally. This does not just impact farmers, it will now impact consumers through higher food prices.”
“The reduction in the farm laborer overtime threshold shows how out of touch the wage board and governor are with farmers and every day New Yorkers. The weekly trip to the grocery store is a dreadful thought for families across our region and increased labor costs will further increase food prices. The implementation of this decision over 10 years will mean a slow bleed to New York farms as they fail to compete with neighboring states without these burdensome regulations. The wage board, labor commissioner and governor have all ignored the overwhelming majority of feedback rejecting this reduction from farmers and farm workers. It seems as if they are determined to see New York farms fail, maybe to cover them in solar panels to power the governor’s dream of New York being an electric vehicle-only state by 2035,” said Assemblyman Jeff Gallahan (R,C-Manchester).