New York is now joining several states that are changing the way farm workers are compensated for their time. 

The state's labor commissioner on Friday, September 30 approved a recommendation to phase in a 40-hour threshold for farmworker overtime over the next decade. Right now, farmworkers in New York qualify for overtime pay only after they have worked 60 hours in a week. 

Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon called the plan “the best path forward” for farmworker equity and success for agricultural businesses. 

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News
Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News

Washington, Minnesota, Hawaii and Maryland have also granted forms of overtime entitlements to agricultural workers. California, an agricultural giant, this year began requiring farms to pay overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours in a week. 

The changes have excited workers, who say they sorely need the extra money, but alarmed some farm owners, who say extra labor costs could wipe out thin profits. 

Some labor movement advocates fear workers' hours will be capped. 

New York state government created a tax credit intended to defray the cost of overtime for farm employers. 

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Republican, Conservative Congresswoman Claudia Tenney released a statement following the Friday recommendation calling the decision “misguided” and saying the decision will lead to “lost wages for workers, increased costs for farmers and higher prices for consumers.” 

The activist group: “Upstate United” also issued a statement blasting the decision, saying “There is no doubt that Commissioner Readon’s disastrous decision will lead to fewer family farms, smaller paychecks for farm workers and higher costs for consumers.” 

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