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Ag Overtime Impacts to Farms

The Oregon State Legislature convenes February 1st for the 2022 Short Session and a decision on ag overtime requirements will have far-reaching consequences for Oregon Wheat and Oregon agricultural businesses. The initial legislation on ag overtime (House Bill 4002) proposes a straight 40-hour ag overtime threshold phased in by 2027. We need your help to talk with your legislator to explain the devastating impacts of this proposed policy. Despite months of work to try and help legislators understand the unique needs of our industry, there was no movement to accommodate ag needs and the bill only proposes a limited duration tax credit.

Farmers and their employees work unique hours to plant, manage and harvest crops and keep our supply of agricultural products secure. The legislation ignores these needs and proposes a 40-hour threshold, phased in beginning in calendar years 2023/24 at 55 hours in a workweek, moving to 48 hours in 2025/26 and then to 40 hours in 2027 and beyond. If passed, it is expected to have significant adverse effects on farmworkers' incomes, Oregon's farm production, and Oregon's economy.

We need your help to reach ALL legislators before they take this devastating vote.

We know that a majority of our farmers will NOT be able to afford the increased payroll costs and will reduce employees, reduce shifts, cap employee hours, or be forced to modify benefits. Nobody wins with this poorly crafted policy!

Instructions:

The 2022 session is only 35-days long, which means producers have a limited opportunity to engage before this policy is voted on. We need your help to change the conversation at the state Capitol! Write your legislators today, and tell them that 40-hours is not workable. They need to know the direct impacts to your operation and to your employees’ paychecks! Customize the talking points below to tell your story.

Find contact for your state representative and senator here!

Message:

Please CUSTOMIZE your message to help your legislator know how your farm and employees would be impacted.

  • I farm in ________ County. I grow wheat (and_____list other crops if applicable___) and employ ________ individuals. These are people I care about and I do everything I can to compensate my employees fairly.
  • I am concerned about the impact that ag overtime would have on my farm and employees.
  • As a wheat farmer, I cannot increase the sale price of my crops when labor costs increase. Consumers in the global commodity market set our prices. Since I cannot pass on increased costs, I will be forced to limit the number of hours that employees work to 40 hours per week to avoid the added expense of overtime pay. The other unintended consequences of this legislation for employees will be ____________________ (ex. not be able to pay health care, provide free housing, provide free vehicle, pay end-of-season bonuses etc).
  • I do not want to do this, but that is the practical reality. As a family business, we can’t operate at a loss year-over-year. Mandating overtime after 40-hours demands wages that are not possible with the economics of agriculture and will result in reduced pay and opportunities for farm employees.
  • I actively manage my farmland to ensure it produces quality grain and sustains the health of the environment and soil. This work can be labor-intensive, particularly during seasonal periods like planting and harvesting. This bill will likely cost me ___________ in new labor costs that I can’t afford.
  • Farmers have been clear about the consequences of this policy, but I’m also worried that farm employees will see their paychecks reduced or jobs cut if overtime pay is required after 40-hours.
  • Only seven states have adopted ag overtime policies, and most have crafted policies to ensure some measure of flexibility to ensure that local farms can remain viable and that employees’ jobs and paychecks are protected. Several states have adopted policies to meet seasonal needs and others established higher overtime thresholds that help avoid some of the worst consequences.Failure to provide flexibility that acknowledges the needs for agricultural production risks the sustainability of thousands of family farms, ranches, and crop production and places farmworkers at a disadvantage, having the opposite effect of what is intended.
  • As someone who stands to lose their family business, I urge you to oppose HB 4002 as written which would create an inflexible 40-hour overtime mandate that simply won’t work for Oregon’s farms.

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