ALBANY - Growing the state's agriculture industry and helping family farms prosper is the goal of the "Grown in New York" plan, unveiled recently by Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I-Olean) and Senator Patty Ritchie (R-C, Heuvelton).
The Senators were joined at a Capitol news conference by other members of the committee, as well as leaders of the New York Farm Bureau, to announce a plan 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.
"All across New York State, from my district in Western New York, to the tip of Long Island, to the North County, the agricultural industry is a thriving and vital component of the economy, but we need to do more to support our farms," Young, Chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources and current member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said. "The average age of the farmer keeps increasing. According to national statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for every one farmer under the age of 25, there are five over the age of 75.
"We need to cultivate younger farmers," Young said. "It needs to be attractive for them to stay or enter in the agricultural industry. Also, we need to keep promoting biofuel crops through tax incentives. These crops produce green, locally produced energy and provide many jobs to Upstate New York. This package of bills will be a boon to our state's vibrant farms."
"Agriculture is New York's leading industry, and Senate Republicans have been at the forefront of efforts to bolster agriculture and help farmers grow," Ritchie, Chair of the Agriculture Committee, said. "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."
"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," Senate Republican Leader Dean G. Skelos said. "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 has long held to the proven belief that when you grow New York's farms, you grow New York's economy," New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton said. "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 Senate's 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.