UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Towards the end of the summer, the New York Farm Laborers’ Wage Board made a recommendation to lower the overtime threshold.

Ultimately, New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) Commissioner, Roberta Reardon, decided to change the farm overtime threshold over the next 10 years.

“To put it to you really simple and straight, frustrated, we’re totally frustrated, us farmers, about the decisions that were made about overtime,” said Ben Simons of Simons Family Farms.

Ben tells me that this decision is not only going to make it more challenging to keep up with competitive pay but with the price of goods as well.

“When we’re at the marketplace we’re at a disadvantage because our labor rate is so much higher than the surrounding states to us,” explained Ben.

He also informed me that Governor Hochul is working on a program to reimburse farmers for the losses they suffer, via taxpayers’ money.

“So, they’re not only paying for the product in the grocery store, and now they’re paying for the product through their taxes,” he said, “And that’s just not fair.”

“It’s not fair to the marketplace, it’s not fair to the farmer, it’s not fair to the taxpayers, and it’s not fair to the employee.”

Senator Joseph Griffo agrees that this is a problem supported strongly by the people of downstate New York; something that could have been avoided had the survey that showed 72 percent of farm owners and workers did not want this happening.

“It shows you that there was a lack of true attention to the input that was provided which makes people think that this whole thing was a sham,” said Griffo.

“You solicited input, you asked people to provide data, and none of that was truly evaluated – and it’s a stacked deck, to begin with.”

He continued, “And in regard to who ultimately makes the decision – it’s really the governor because the commissioner who’s making the decision now serves at the pleasure of the governor.”

“So, for anybody to think that the governor is not tacit or directly involved in this is fooling themselves.”

Ben Simons informed me that he’s working on contacting Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, as well as Governor Kathy Hochul, to put a stop to this decision.

Also, Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon says she’s working towards a suspension.

“A suspension at this point is what we would look at to determine when everyone comes to the table and makes the decision together, then we would see what’s viable,” she said.