BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The New York State Department of Labor announced Friday that they have accepted a recommendation from the Farm Laborers Wage Board to lower the current 60-hour threshold for overtime pay to 40 hours.

The rate will be lowered by January 1, 2032, allowing 10 years for the transition to take place.

This is a process that began in 2020, with the board gathering testimony from farm owners, workers, advocacy groups and academic researchers. Over the course of those two years, the state enacted three new tax credits to help farm employers transition. The Investment Tax Credit was increased from 4% to 20% for farm businesses, the Farm Workforce Retention Tax Credit was increased to $1,200 per employee and a new refundable overtime tax credit was established for overtime hours paid by farm employers.

From now until 2032, it was recommended that the overtime threshold be reduced by four hours every two years beginning in 2024, giving agriculture businesses time to adjust.

“I thank the Farm Laborers Wage Board and all New Yorkers who provided insight and input during this inclusive process,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “I come from a farm community myself, so I know how important the agricultural sector is to the New York State economy. Based on the findings, I feel the Farm Laborers Wage Board’s recommendations are the best path forward to ensure equity for farm workers and success for agricultural businesses.”

However, some are against the decision.

“This is a difficult day for all those who care about New York being able to feed itself. Commissioner Reardon’s decision to lower the farm labor overtime threshold will make it even tougher to farm in this state and will be a financial blow to the workers we all support,” New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said. “Moving forward, farms will be forced to make difficult decisions on what they grow, the available hours they can provide to their employees, and their ability to compete in the marketplace. All of this was highlighted in the testimony and data that the wage board report and the commissioner simply ignored.”

For more information on the process and next steps, click here.

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