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State Shoots Torpedo At Its Farms, Then Wants Congratulations For Rescuing Farms

Does it strike anyone else as odd that New York is poised to require a 40-hour work week for farm workers while admitting that the majority of farms can’t afford its requirement?

Currently, farm workers are paid overtime after working 60 hours as part of a compromise worked out before passage of the Farm Laborers Fair Practices Act passed in 2019. Farmers have warned for years already thin margins of doing business will only get worse if overtime regulations were changed.

Farmers have said in the wake of a Farm Labor Wage Board’s 2-1 decision to recommend the 40-hour work week that their opinions and testimony weren’t properly heard and taken into consideration. But in our opinion the state is admitting the farmers’ concerns have merit and are plowing ahead anyway. In the 2022-23 state budget, legislators and Gov. Kathy Hochul increased the state’s Investment Tax Credit to 20% for capital farming expenditures, an increase from 4% for a personal income tax filer and 5% for a corporate filer. The state has also doubled the Farm Workforce Retention credit to $1,200 in the budget through 2025 and, most notably, created a Farm Employer Overtime Credit equal to 118% of the eligible overtime hours worked, providing a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for every penny spent on overtime pay if the state threshold is lowered. Eligible farmers can receive an advancement on the tax credit for the first six months of the year to help with cash flow.

For those keeping score at home, that’s the state saying it agrees with farmers who say increased personnel costs could drive them out of business. With which other industry has the state been so generous as to share the cost of the state’s onerous burdens?

We would have preferred a different path, of course. In our opinion, a better choice would be to leave the work week on farms at 60 hours a week and then not spend state taxpayer money to help keep struggling farms hurt by the state’s decision afloat. Only in state government can you metaphorically shoot a torpedo at a boat and then expect to be congratulated for rescuing passengers off the now-sinking ship.

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