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Farmers voice concerns about overtime threshold to state leaders

The Grow NY Farms coalition wants the state to keep the overtime threshold at 60 hours per week for the agriculture industry.

ALBANY, N.Y. — Several farmers from across the state made a stop in Albany on Wednesday to voice their concerns about a pending decision on farm workers.

The Grow NY Farms coalition wants the state to keep the overtime threshold at 60 hours per week for the agriculture industry. The group of farmers delivered letters to Gov. Kathy Hochul's office on Wednesday.

They say that reducing that overtime threshold to 40 hours would be devastating to the industry, especially during peak seasons, and could bankrupt their farms if they had to pay out that much overtime.

"And the idea that the farmers can pay for that overtime hours would be pretty much impossible," according to Daniel Zittel of Amos Zittel & Sons Inc. in the Southtowns.

"Just with our workforce, doing the quick math it, would cost us about a half a million dollars to maintain the same workforce and work them with 20 more hours of overtime, which is financially just devastating. It can't happen."

The state wage board will be revisiting the 2019 Farm Laborers Fair Practice Act this month to decide whether to lower the overtime threshold from 60 hours to 40 per week.

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