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Hochul proposes subsidy for farm owners, $130 million annual cost on taxpayers

Gov. Kathy Hochul is proposing a subsidy to cover costs associated with new farm worker overtime laws that could cost taxpayers up to $130 million annually.

Despite the proposal included in the governor’s executive budget, people in the agricultural industry are claiming the reduced overtime threshold would still leave small farmers “cash-strapped,” according to Albany Times-Union.

In January, the state’s Farm Laborer Wage Board voted to lower the threshold from 40 to 60 hours over the course of a decade. The tax credit would provide a subsidy for farm owners to cover additional costs associated with the lowered overtime threshold.

Despite around the change to farm worker overtime laws has been fierce, pitting workers’ rights advocates against the agricultural industry.

“While we appreciate the governor’s proposal, we hope to continue the conversation with her to find the best possible outcome,” said New York Farm Bureau spokesman Steve Ammerman in an email. “Ultimately, we are asking for her to maintain the 60-hour threshold so a tax credit would not be needed.”

The fate of the proposal is now in the hands of state Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. She has until mid-March to make a determination.