Ag Overtime Progress Pt 2

Ag Overtime Progress Pt 2

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
From the Ag Information Network, I’m Bob Larson with today’s Fruit Grower Report. The ag industry has been hard at work in Olympia trying to get the importance of a 12-week exemption for ag overtime understood among the legislators.

Washington State Tree Fruit Association President, Jon

DeVaney says more lawmakers appear to hearing that message this year …

DeVANEY … “We made a lot of progress and you need to make your case before people can understand it. And I think this session has felt a little bit different than past sessions in that where agriculture has raised concerns the legislature has slowed down and taken those concerns under consideration rather than just pushing forward.”

DeVaney says the jump from $20 to $30 per hour is significant …

DeVANEY … “It’s a big step up in class, especially when you consider that for a lot of farms, tree fruit farms for example, labor is 60% of your production costs. So, that’s not a slight change in your overall cost of production.”

And, DeVaney says when you do the math …

DeVANEY … “If you increase your labor costs by 50%, and that’s 60% of your costs, you’ve greatly eroded whatever profit margin might have been left to you in a very difficult and competitive environment.”

But, does it still stand a chance? …

DeVANEY … “Yeah, it’s hard to predict the actions of the legislature. I think it would be difficult to do this year, but we’re making a lot of progress on getting the issue addressed.”

DeVaney says with next year’s 40-hour limit, it should be much easier to demonstrate the level of the burden on employers and production.

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