California Farmers Attack Overtime Bill

California farmers and farm operators are lobbying against an overtime bill that some claim will hurt the agricultural industry and could limit available hours for farm laborers.

For the past several years, California Democrats have sought to seriously reform agricultural production and labor relations in the state. Legislators in Sacramento, for example, pushed for farmworkers union reforms, fighting to lower the burden on farmworkers seeking to unionize. The same legislature pushed to reform farmworkers’ rights by expanding heat protection requirements.

The latest move by the California government would seek to change overtime legislation. Current regulations allow for 60-hour workweeks Monday through Saturday. The new law would give workers laboring for more than 40 hours time and a half.

Many farmers argue that this legislation would end up cutting available hours, which could make it difficult to harvest crops. Farmers unable to hire enough workers to gather crops would see significantly reduced profits.

According to an official at the California Farm Bureau, “Eventually the consumer is the one that is paying the prices for all of these increases of doing business, because the costs have to be passed on to the consumer. And when these consumers reach the point in which they don’t want to pay, it’s going to dry up business. If we have to rely on other countries for food like we do for oil, this country is going to be in a world of hurt.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer