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Action Alert: Strengthening Organic Enforcement Proposed Rule

The USDA National Organic Program’s (NOP) Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on August 5, 2020. Read the proposed rule here.

This proposed rule significantly updates the USDA organic regulations to strengthen oversight and enforcement throughout the organic supply chain. It proposes changes that implement provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill and addresses recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board and the USDA Office of Inspector General.

NOP has published a six-part series that explains the proposed changes in a user-friendly format:

Public review and comment is encouraged! The deadline for public comment: October 5, 2020 at 11:59pm Eastern.

Visit the SOE web page for links to the Federal Register announcement and instructions on how to submit comments.

Action Alert: Submit Testimony to the Farm Laborers Wage Board

Under the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act signed into law in 2019, farmworkers became entitled to overtime premium pay starting on January 1, 2020, for any work that they perform in excess of 60 hours per week, and for work performed on their designated day of rest.

As part of that act, the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) is required to convene a wage board to hold hearings and make recommendations as to overtime work and, specifically, the extent to which the overtime threshold for farm laborers can be lowered below 60 hours per week and whether any such reductions should be phased in through a series of successively lower thresholds.

NOFA-NY Members have not taken an official position on the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act since it was passed into law, and we recognize our members may have differing opinions on the overtime provision. However, we encourage our members, farmworkers, and farm owners to submit testimony to the wage board to ensure implementation of this new law is informed by your on-the-ground experience.

Written testimony will be accepted by the Wage Board until October 31, 2020. Virtual hearing were held in August 2020. Hearing minutes are available in English and Spanish on the NYS DOL website.

Here’s what we recommend you include in your letter:

  1. Short description of the farm you manage or work on
  2. The number of employees on your farm (full-time, part-time, hired, volunteer, seasonal, and/or year-round)
  3. How many hours per week employees work – do they work over 60 hours? If so, how much is that costing the farm in additional wages? If not, does the farm not need more than 60 hours of work, or did the farm change hiring practices to avoid having to pay overtime?
  4. Do you think the regulations should remain as written, at 60 hours?
  5. What change in the labor regulations would you be willing to accept? (For example, overtime pay for hours works over 40 hours per week? Over 48 hours per week? Other?
  6. Any other input you think would be helpful to the wage board

If you choose to submit testimony, please consider cc-ing NOFA-NY’s Policy Advisor, Liana Hoodes (policy@nofany.org) on your email.

NOFA-NY sends action alerts when an important issue is coming up for a vote either at the State or Federal level in an effort to encourage members and concerned citizens to contact their representatives. To receive action alerts by email, sign up for our eNews on the right side of this page.

Contact Your Legislator

Calling or emailing your elected representatives is an easy yet powerful way to make your voice heard! Find your federal and state representatives below. 

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Find Your Senator

New York State
Find Your State Senator
Find Your Assemblymember

For New York State residents:

Charles E. Schumer (D–NY)
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Kirsten Gillibrand (D–NY)
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510