In this episode, I talk with Cornell Professor Christopher Wolf.
He’s the co-author of a study on the potential effect of lowering the threshold for farm overtime in New York from 60 to 40 hours, as seems likely to occur in the near future. The report’s authors talked to fruit and vegetable and dairy farm owners, as well as farm workers.
The study found farm owners would likely compensate for the 40 hour threshold by hiring more workers and capping their weekly hours at 40 and/or move their farming operations to other states. California and Washington are the only states that currently have a 40 hour threshold.
Farmers said they would also add more labor saving technology. They are concerned that so-called H-2A migrant workers would be less likely to work in New York if they know their hours would be capped at 40.
I learned a lot about farm economics. The 40 hour threshold was approved by the state Wage Board and needs only approval by the state Labor Commissioner to become law. It would be phased in over the next ten years.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced a plan last week to provide subsidies for farm owners to offset the increased labor costs if the overtime change becomes law.