If farmers are working part time, why do we need an overtime law? »Publications» Washington Policy Center
There is an old adage: “You will need a doctor and a lawyer at least once in your life, but you will need a farmer every day.” Some lawmakers in Washington state have forgotten this lesson.
In the just ended session, lawmakers passed an illegal capital gains income tax. While supporters have claimed it will only affect the super-rich, the definition will impact farmers as well. Recognizing that this was a political issue, lawmakers created talking points to justify taxing farm families. The message they offered is enlightening.
Among the possible talking points to support the adoption of a capital gains income tax was the following statement: “If farmers and ranchers are able to make more than $ 250,000 in profit each year while working less than half the time, they can afford to pay 7%. on all profits over $ 250,000. “
The farming community has spent much of this legislative session working to save the jobs of their employees and businesses from overtime pay mandated by the state in Senate Bill 5172. The bill targeted employers and requires all farmers and ranchers to start paying their employees time-and-a-half as of January 1, 2022 for every hour worked beyond 55 hours. Then, in 2023, the time and a half will be applied to 48 hours and 40 hours in 2024.
If, as the talking point claims, farmers, ranchers and their workers spend âless than half the time,â why did our state need this overtime legislation so urgently?
The farming community has seasonal fluctuations in hours worked, but no one could reasonably equate these fluctuations with work âless than half the timeâ. During peak spring and harvest periods, farmers and their employees often register work weeks of 65 hours or more depending on the needs of the day. Farmers face similar demands during the calving and picking seasons.
Even during the “slow” winter months, food producers continue to work, but they focus on continuing education, meetings, conferences, tax preparation and other “office” tasks. that were intentionally postponed.
Among these clerical tasks, one must determine the amount of operating credit that will be required for the following year. Despite the idea that the farming community is wealthy, cash is often hard to come by, and large numbers of farmers and ranchers depend on annual operating loans from banks and credit unions.
Our state is unique in its ability to support a wide range of food production. Washington State farmers and ranchers grow or raise over 300 food products, making us one of the most diverse agricultural states in the country. Our farms and ranches generate more than $ 20 billion in annual economic income and provide more than 164,000 jobs for the people of Washington.
Yet, farmers, ranchers and their workers are treated as if their voices, their efforts, do not matter. Whether it’s going to the local farmers market, buying asparagus at the grocery store, or scooping up a sirloin to throw on the grill over the weekend, there is one person who participated. every step of the way to get that item to a consumer. These are people with families, bills, and worries, just like the person sitting down to eat what the farmer or rancher has provided for them.
When lawmakers use disinformation to govern and craft laws that negatively affect farming communities, all communities suffer the consequences of those choices.