New York farmers this month are bracing for a potential change in the state's overtime laws that could lower the hours worked threshold for when a worker qualifies for extra pay.
To potentially soften the blow in increased costs, Gov. Kathy Hochul this week proposed a refundable tax credit for overtime hours paid by agriculture businesses to their workers.
The $216 billion budget plan released by Hochul on Tuesday also included an investment tax credit of up to 20% for farm businesses, an expansive increase from the current 4%. For now, the New York Farm Bureau called the proposals a "strong first step" in the budget talks.
"Some of her proposals recognize longstanding New York Farm Bureau priorities, including the doubling of the workforce retention tax credit and support for market opportunities for farms, which include the Farm-to-School and Nourish NY programs," said Farm Bureau President David Fisher. "The governor is also looking to make significant investments in research and promotion, environmental programs, and climate initiatives that will assist farms with their ongoing efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change."
The Farm Bureau's leadership will meet next week to detrmine its budget priorities this year.
"Our members will be heavily engaged with lawmakers to make the case for investments and sound public policy in the final state budget that will support our family farms, food system and local economies," Fisher said.
Advocates for agriculture workers have called for the overtime increase, which would once again lower the threshold of qualifying for overtime from the current 60 hours a week, over the last year. Farmers, however, have contended the move would be a financial blow, especially for smaller producers in the state given agriculture is not a typical 9-to-5 job.
The Hochul administration delayed a decision on the overtime question last month and is now holding public hearings on the issue.