Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21) today led Congressman Lee Zeldin (NY-01), Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-22), Congressman John Katko (NY-24), and Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) in submitting a comment letter to New York Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon opposing the proposed rule to lower the overtime threshold for farm workers.
This letter was submitted during New York State’s Department of Labor’s 60-day comment period as it undergoes its rulemaking process to implement Hochul’s Farm Laborers Wage Board’s recommendation to lower the overtime threshold from 60 to 40 hours per week.
In the letter, the lawmakers point out that the Farm Laborer Wage Board ignored over 70% of testimony from farmers and multiple scientific reports. Additionally, they warned against how this decision would devastate the agriculture landscape of New York State by making it less competitive and citing that the proposal would cost farms an increased 42% in labor costs, approximately $264 million per year.
“I am proud to stand up for our New York farmers and oppose Kathy Hochul’s wage board’s reckless overtime proposal that jeopardizes the future of agriculture in New York State and the livelihoods of our hardworking farmers,” Stefanik said. “Upstate New York is home to thousands of dairy farmers, apple growers, and maple producers, who work tirelessly to provide for our communities but are being forced to bear the burdens of poor decisions made in Albany. I will continue to bring the concerns of our farmers to the highest levels and continue to oppose the lowering of the overtime threshold at every turn, because if we have no farms, we have no food.”
“Lowering the farm workers overtime threshold from 60 to 40 hours would be a crushing burden on New York’s agricultural industry and our food supply, increasing labor costs up to $264 million per year. I’m proud to join my Republican colleagues from New York’s Congressional Delegation in standing up for our state’s farmers,” Zeldin said.
“Lowering the farm laborer overtime wage threshold is woefully misguided and ignores testimony from countless farm workers, farmers, and consumers who are concerned about the proposal’s devastating impacts. As I travel around New York, I hear constantly from those who are worried that the proposal could lead to lost wages, higher prices, and the demise of countless family farms. That is why I am once again asking State Labor Commissioner Reardon to reject this terrible proposal. I will always stand with New York’s family farms,” Tenney said.
“It is abundantly clear that this rule will have dire consequences for farmers across New York State,” Katko said. “Albany’s out-of-touch plan to move forward with reducing the overtime threshold, especially at a time when farmers are already contending with inflation and severe workforce challenges, is simply unconscionable.”
“The decision to lower the overtime threshold for farms in New York State was made with intentional ignorance to the overwhelming testimony and advocacy of farmers, agricultural industry advocates, and elected officials. This decision was nothing more than a blatant partisan sell-out to New York City liberals who do not understand farming. By making this decision, Governor Hochul and her administration will sign the death warrant of New York agriculture as we know it. I urge the Governor and Commissioner Reardon to reject this decision immediately and uphold the 60-hour threshold. Should they continue with their plan, labor will leave our state and farms will undoubtedly go bankrupt after supporting our economy and health for countless generations," Jacobs said.
"New York Farm Bureau thanks Rep. Stefanik and her colleagues in the New York congressional delegation for continuing to highlight the impact that a lower overtime threshold will have on New York’s farms, farmworkers, and our food system. The data is clear that a lower threshold will make it more difficult to produce and market our products and recruit and retain employees," said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.
Stefanik has repeatedly opposed the Farm Laborers Wage Board Decision and previously sent a letter to the Wage Board to postpone any consideration of reducing the overtime threshold for farmworkers. In February, Stefanik led the charge and called on Governor Kathy Hochul urging her to reject the New York State Farm Laborers Wage Board’s decision to lower the overtime wage threshold. She is a supporter of the Protect Local Farms Act (H.R. 8756) to prevent the New York State Farm Laborers Wage Board's recommendation to lower the overtime threshold from 60 hours to 40 hours per week from taking effect.
New Yorkers can submit comments to firstname.lastname@example.org on New York State Department of Labor’s proposed farmworker overtime regulation until December 11, 2022.
Read the full letter here.