ALBANY — Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Agriculture, provided testimony Monday at a Farm Laborers Wage Board hearing. The hearing was conducted to discuss whether the current overtime threshold of 60 hours for farm workers should be lowered and, if done, whether the reduction should be phased in. The Assemblywoman implored the Wage Board to not lower the 60-hour per week threshold at which workers accrue overtime.
“New York’s agriculture industry was already in a weakened state before COVID, and is in an even more perilous state now,” said Assemblywoman Lupardo. “Lowering the overtime threshold would further stress an already weary system and inadvertently penalize workers who in some instances, are actually earning less money than they were before. Some of these farm workers have already left to work in other states, causing New York farms to experience additional labor shortages.”
A silver lining from the pandemic, Lupardo pointed out, is the heightened consumer awareness of the entire food supply chain, including the essential workers who help produce our food. In her testimony, Assemblywoman Lupardo shared her hope that this issue could be revisited in the future, but she said that day “would require farmers receive a fair price for what they produce; one that actually matches their costs. It would also require consumers being willing to pay for what it actually costs to produce the food they serve to their families. And there would also be a fundamental shift in attitude about the dignity of farm work, and about the people who often come here at great personal risk to perform tasks many Americans are unwilling to do.”
To read the Assemblywoman’s full testimony, click here.
–The Office of Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo
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