ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) - New York State Senator Tom O'Mara joined members of the Senate Republican Conference in urging the state to reject the lower overtime threshold for farm workers.

In their letter to Roberta, the state's department of labor commissioner, O'Mara and his colleagues wrote, in part, "While we hope that inflation returns to historical averages as quickly as possible, it is unclear if food prices will do so anytime soon due to lingering geopolitical forces affecting fertilizers and other agriculture petrochemicals prices. Doing anything that may increase the price of our food, or impact the stability of the food supply-chain (which we learned during COVID just how fragile it is), regardless of when the policies claim to start, would be extremely irresponsible."

O'Mara has been a strong opponent of the actions of the Farm Wage Board. He testified before the Board in January to express his strong opposition to lowering the threshold and continues to speak out against it.

O'Mara said, "The Wage Board has been moving in this direction from the start. Now Governor Hochul and Commissioner Reardon have the opportunity to finally reject it. They should listen to the thousands of farmers, farm workers, farm advocates, agricultural representatives, community leaders, and legislators, including me, in near-unanimous opposition. The message has been delivered from the industry's top advocates, including the New York Farm Bureau, the Northeast Dairy Producers Association, Grow NY Farms, and numerous others. Local, federal, and state representatives have made it known that we fear the undermining of an industry and, equally important, a way of life that has defined the regions we represent. If left to stand, it will change the face of New York State agriculture as we have known it for generations. It will risk the future of high quality, local food production. It will spark the loss of more family farms and the livelihoods these farms support across the industry and throughout hundreds of local economies. Now is no time to risk regulating and mandating an even more uncertain future for family farmers, farm workers, farm communities, and New York's agricultural industry overall."

The three-member Board, by a vote of 2-1, handed down its final recommendation during a virtual meeting on September 6th.

Governor Kathy Hochul now has 45 days to either approve or reject the board's recommendation.