ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)– The final farm labor overtime threshold regulations have officially been adopted according to the New York State Department of Labor.
Starting January 1, 2024 the overtime threshold for farm workers will decrease from 60 hours to 56. The number of overtime hours allowed will continue decrease until it reaches 40 hours in 2032.
New York State’s Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon stated, “These new regulations ensure equity for farm workers, who are the very backbone of our agriculture sector. By implementing a gradual transition, we are giving farmers time to make the appropriate adjustments. These new regulations advance New York State’s continued commitment to workers while protecting our farms.”
However, not everyone sees it this way. Some farmers worry their workers will leave the state to work at other farms instead.
“Many in particular who work through the H2A Guest Worker Visa Program– they are looking for more hours. If they can get those hours in other states and to them that could mean more income for themselves and their families, they are gonna make that choice,” said Steve Ammerman, a spokesperson for the New York Farm Bureau.
According to Ammerman, it’s already hard to find farm laborers and this could make it even more difficult.
When asked if farmers are doing anything now to prepare, Ammerman said, “I think they are going to be making some big decisions about what they grow and how they grow it— Looking at their overall budgets and where they can make adjustments. So there is a little bit of time to prepare for that, and come January 1, we will see what those decisions look like.
While the bureau is not in favor of the overtime threshold being lowered, it does support some of Governor Hochul’s budget proposals such as an investment tax credit for farmers that will be refundable for 5 years.
“I do think this is the governor trying to help ease the pain and look for other outlets as well as the other lawmakers who support these initiatives as well,” said Ammerman. “Also it is important that this is over and done with— the overtime threshold. We now need to explore other avenues to support our farmers and support agriculture in New York to make sure it remains a viable industry in the state.”