Ag Overtime Updt

Ag Overtime Updt

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. With springtime upon us, and harvest season fast approaching, farmers are hoping there is enough labor to get the work done this year.

U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse says the removal of the ag overtime exemption, that took effect on January 1, will certainly play a role …

NEWHOUSE … “Even the workers did not want this new restriction on their ability to earn, but the majority party in Olympia decided this was the right thing to do and it’s making it very difficult for our producers to get the work done.”

A seasonality exemption, Newhouse says was unsuccessful in the last legislative session …

NEWHOUSE … “The legislature was working on some adjustments, some exemptions for harvest periods and those kinds of things and that’s where I’m concerned that we may be able to get through the regular part of the season, but when it comes to harvest time, it’s, you know, 24-7 kind of dynamic where people are working around the clock in some cases on farms to get the crops in in a timely way. And, putting a 40-hour restriction per week on that is just not practical.”

Newhouse says it kind of makes you wonder …

NEWHOUSE … “Sometimes you think that the state of Washington does not want an agricultural industry by putting out these kinds of regulations and rules and laws and it’s very frustrating. We have to communicate that and we have to do all we can to get these laws into position that will work for our industry.”

There is worry that some of the workers may not return to Washington this year, opting instead to work in other states where overtime is not an issue.

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