A harvest of failure

File PhotographThe farm overtime policy recently adopted by the state Department of Labor is intrusive on the basics of free enterprise. This policy will force many small family farms to close, leaving power in the hands of agricultural conglomerates.

The New York State Department of Labor’s decision to cap farm workers overtime to 40 hours by 2032 is a wrongheaded option that will harvest only a crop of problems in the future. Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon confirmed the final farm labor overtime regulations were adopted from the Farm Laborers Wage Board’s report and recommendations in September.

The gradual, phased-in reduction in the overtime pay threshold begins Jan. 1, 2024, with the threshold set at 56 hours. The process will continue with the overtime threshold limit reducing by four hours in alternating years until reaching 40 hours in 2032. The new regulations will ensure equity for farm workers, who are the very backbone of our agricultural sector, Reardon said. Implementing a gradual transition gives farmers time to make the appropriate adjustments and advance New York State’s continued commitment to workers while protecting farms, she added.

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