Farm Bureau says NY budget good for agriculture

Staff Reports Posted 1 April 2015 at 12:00 am

New York Farm Bureau is praising the new state budget for directing $70 million in agriculture programs “that touch every farmer,” Dean Norton, NYFB president, said in a statement today.

He was pleased to see funding for many farm programs, and also to see that a minimum wage hike wasn’t included in the budget. Higher labor costs would put New York farmers at a competitive disadvantage to farms in other states and countries, Norton said.

He is happy to see increased support for the Environmental Protection Fund, which is responsible for enhancing water-quality projects, farmland protection and expanding conservation efforts on farms across the state.

“In addition, the budget funds critical research for a variety of commodities including dairy, fruit, vegetables, honeybees and maple,” Norton said. “We are also appreciative of money that supports new farmers, promotes the world-class products grown and made by our farms, and makes a substantial investment to upgrade services at the State Fairgrounds.”

The budget also makes commitments to infrastructure and expanded rural broadband, which Norton said have been top priorities for the organization.

“Safe roads and bridges are imperative for farmers to move machinery and product in an effective manner,” Norton said. “This funding will also go a long way in ensuring that there is reliable Internet all across New York. This is important for farms to access timely information and take advantage of new technology that improves efficiency.”

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, also is happy to see money in the budget to bolster local agriculture, including a $1 million initiative for the Beginning Farmers NY Fund to attract young people to the career of farming, a $4.2 million increase for local agriculture assistance programs, and a $500,000 loan fund for the Soil and Water Conservation Committee to create a revolving loan fund for drain tile installation on farms.

“Farmers constantly deal with threats to their businesses such as drought, heavy rainfall and destructive insects,” said Hawley, a former farmer who once led the Genesee County Farm Bureau. “These proposals will help keep our agriculture industry flourishing, entice young people to the industry, and allow farmers to obtain loans they will use to protect and enhance their crop production.”