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Willamette Valley farmer speaks out in support of overtime pay for farmworkers

As a second-generation farmer operating a family-owned nursery in Linn County, I understand the challenges that small farms in Oregon are facing.

Despite the need for hard work and creativity in our industry, that does not justify denying farmworkers fair compensation for overtime. I support the legislation being considered in the Oregon Legislature that would end the overtime exemption for farmworkers.

COURTESY PHOTO: ANDREA JOHNSON - A bill that would end the Oregon agriculture industry's exemption from higher overtime wages is headed for floor votes in the House and Senate.

Ever since my father started our farm with a couple of greenhouses in our backyard, he made treating workers fairly a priority. During our harvest season, we need workers to stay until the job is done. Yet we also recognize that farm work is hard, physical labor and workers should be compensated for their extra time and effort.

Many other industries have peak seasons and their workers rightly receive overtime. Why shouldn't we do the same for our essential farmworkers?

Our farm has offered overtime pay for decades — and we're not the only ones. We're proof it can be done while keeping our business profitable. I urge lawmakers to pass farmworker overtime and send a powerful message to Oregon's farmworkers that we see you, we value you, and we're going to do what is right.

Ben Verhoeven

President, Peoria Gardens Inc.

Albany


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