Goal is to strengthen agriculture and family farms
Growing the state's agriculture industry and helping New York's family farms prosper is the goal of the "Grown in New York" plan, unveiled Tuesday at a Capitol news conference by members of the Senate's agriculture committee, as well as leaders of the New York Farm Bureau. The plan is designed to strengthen the state's $5.2 billion agriculture industry by expanding markets for New York-grown products, improving the bottom lines of family farms, and investing in the future of farming.
"Agriculture is New York's leading industry, and Senate Republicans have been at the forefront of efforts to bolster agriculture and help farmers grow," said Sen. Patty Ritchie (Heuvelton). "Over the past two years, we have worked to restore budget cuts to vital marketing, research, and educational programs farmers depend on to strengthen their bottom line. 'Grown in New York' is the Senate Republican plan to build on that success and help farmers grow and build for the future."
Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (Elma) said, "Agriculture is New York's most important industry and one of its most diverse, impacting every individual and family in the state. The 'Grown in New York' plan will help ease the tax burden on family farms, and eliminate the costly bureaucratic redundancies and red tape that continue to stifle growth. This is a dynamic and forward-thinking approach that recognizes the immense economic potential of agriculture and agri-business for New York state, and will allow this important sector to expand and thrive for generations to come."
"Our 'Grown in New York' plan will dramatically strengthen New York's critically important farming and agriculture sectors for years to come by reducing taxes on farmers and helping farmers expand their markets, boost productivity and increase their profitability," said Senate Republican Leader Dean G. Skelos. "The plan would also help keep farms in the family, remove burdensome and duplicative regulations, and ensure the future success of New York farmers."
New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton added, "New York Farm Bureau has long held to the proven belief that when you grow New York's farms, you grow New York's economy. The efforts put forth today by Senate Republican Leader Skelos, Senate agriculture committee Chair Ritchie and their conference colleagues will do just that. We appreciate their hard work to lower the high cost of farming to help ensure the next generation of farmers can continue the time-honored tradition of providing healthy, local food to the people of this state and the world."
The "Grown in New York" plan would:
•Reduce taxes on farmers;
•Eliminate the burdensome 18-a energy tax surcharge;
•Curtail red tape and outdated regulations;
•Improve farmers' access to customers by expanding farmers markets and food hubs;
•Put more New York-grown products in schools and government facilities;
•Encourage the growth of New York's maple and wine industries;
•Put idled farmland back in production; and
•Improve farm safety.
Jobs and Progress
The Senate Republican plan is for a stronger agriculture economy.
•Strengthening family farms by reducing taxes on farmers;
•A 2 percent property tax cap for farms; and
•Reduce energy costs on farms by rejecting the governor's effort to extend the 18-a energy tax, and restoring the 18-a assessment back to its pre-2009 level.
Helping New York Farmers Expand Their Markets, Boost Productivity, Increase Profitability
•Dairy: Support the governor's review of a state regulation that limits the size of some dairy farms;
•Maple: Support legislation to cut burdensome regulations and expand opportunities for maple producers;
•Farmers markets: Urge state Department of Agriculture and Markets to commit additional resources to updating its database of New York farm markets, and make information more easily available to the public;
•Food hubs: Support the governor's plan to create new "food hubs" located in growing regions of the state to facilitate access to New York City markets;
•"Buy from the Backyard": Support this program that sets a goal of at least 20 percent of food purchases by state and local government agencies to include locally produced items;
•Remove tariffs: Encourage the federal delegation, as well as Canadian officials, to remove a severe tariff that restricts New York wines from being imported into Ontario;
•Farm breweries: Support increased funding to assist farmers in adding new crops like malt and hops for use in New York's burgeoning small batch and locally produced beer breweries;
•Biofuel crops: Support tax incentives for farmers to produce and use alternative, crop-based fuels; and
•Rescue abandoned farmland: Provide incentives to return forest and abandoned fields to active farm producing.
Keeping Farms in the Family
•Increase estate tax threshold for farms from $1 million to $5 million;
•Create farm savings accounts for young people to purchase farms and to help farmers cover unexpected expenses and losses related to farming; and
•Support continued funding of farming education and enrichment programs such as Future Farmers of America and 4H.
Removing Obstacles to Success and Cutting Red Tape for Farmers
•Cut needless red tape for farmers, who are subject to regulation by more than 20 different federal, state and local agencies. Duplicative red tape prevents farmers from spending more time working in their fields.
Investing in the Future of Farming
•Seek additional budgetary support for maple promotion, the Farm Viability Institute, dairy profits teams that help farmers improve efficiency, and funds to help berry and apple growers recover from damage from storms and invasive species.
Dine: 'Pride of New York'
•This bill would expand the current "Pride of New York" program by creating the "Dine: Pride of New York" program, allowing restaurants serving food and food products produced in New York state access to promotional materials in order to increase their exposure to consumers and promote the sale of locally grown food.
Protecting Farmers from Tractor Rollovers
•The Senate is proposing to restore funding for the tractor rollover program that provides help to New York farmers to purchase and retrofit tractors with rollover protective structures. The program rebates 70 percent of the cost of purchasing and installing the ROPS, up to $765. Tractor accidents are the No. 1 cause of fatalities on the farm.
Support for Dairy Producers
•New York does not set the price of milk that its dairy farmers produce, and the senators stressed the critical need for the federal government to maintain strong support for key federal programs, such as the dairy production margin protection program and dairy market stabilization, to stabilize the milk pricing system and to support a strong dairy industry.