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Palmesano: New Farm Rules Will Hurt Family Farms

February 15, 2022

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) joined his Republican colleagues on Tuesday to once again call on Gov. Hochul and Labor Commissioner Reardon to not adhere to the Wage Board’s recommendation of lowering the overtime threshold from 60 to 40 hours. The lawmakers were also joined by Jeff Williams, New York State Farm Bureau Director of Public Policy, Brian Reeves, President of NYS Vegetable Growers Association and owner of Reeves Farm, Sarah Dressel-Nickles, owner of Dressel Farms and Nate Chittenden, co-owner of Dutch Hollow Farm. The 2-1 Wage Board recommendation by unelected bureaucrats could prove a death blow to the family farm in New York as we know it.

“Here in Albany, alongside my Republican colleagues, we have been sounding the alarm bell around the disastrous and short-sighted recommendation made by the Farm Laborers Wage Board. Lowering the overtime threshold from 60 to 40 hours would crush the farming industry in our state and more than 98% of our farms in New York State are family farms. This will simply devastate our family farms in New York.

“For two years farmers have faced unprecedented headwinds such as a global pandemic, 40-year high inflation, supply chain issues, rising costs of fuel and fertilizer and burdensome regulations out of Albany. They have been forced to operate at tight profit margins, many have even faced deficits.

“The industry leaders and farmers who joined us today echoed the sentiments of those who testified in front of the Wage Board, 70% of which was in support of maintaining the current threshold of 60 hours. The final decision falls squarely in the lap of Gov. Hochul. She will determine the fate of our family farms in New York. I hope she takes the words from today to heart.

“Gov. Hochul I hope you remember, if there are no farms, there are no farmworkers. If there are no farms there is no food; it is as simple as that,” said Palmesano.

From Assemblyman Joe Giglio: Farming is an incredibly unique industry, and in New York it is an especially challenging place to grow enough produce within a year to make ends meet, as we have a singular growing season that can last just over half of the year,” said Giglio. “Even moving to a 60-hour threshold hurt our farmers badly, and in speaking with farmers, I agree they have good reason to fear that the lower threshold could put their farms under for good. The loss of farms will come with a loss of farm labor jobs, so I implore Commissioner Reardon and Gov. Hochul to listen to our farmers to avoid jeopardizing the well-being of both farmers and the farm laborers this policy was intended to help.”