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New York Farm Bureau announces state legislative priorities

New York Farm Bureau announces state legislative priorities

The organization’s goals include a doubling of the minimum wage tax credit

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter
Farms.com

An increased minimum wage tax credit, increased spending at Cornell University and funding for farm programs are among the state-wide items the New York Farm Bureau is focusing on in 2018.

The organization announced its state objectives today during a conference call where president David Fisher outlined the economic situation facing New York producers.

“The value of agriculture products in New York have dropped yet again to five billion dollars in 2016, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service,” he told reporters this morning. “That is more than a billion dollars less than it was in 2014.”

Net farm income for the state in 2016 was $568 million, about a third of where net farm income was in 2013, he added.

New York recently increased its minimum wage, depending on the number of employees and where they work. By 2021, the minimum wage across the state will be $15 per hour.

New York farm employees earn about $13 per hour. And farm employers can receive a $300 tax credit per employee to offset labor costs. The total minimum wage tax credit for farms in the state is about $30 million.

The New York Farm Bureau is advocating that number be doubled to $60 million.

“(The organization) would like to see that tax credit doubled from $300 this year to $600 per employee,” Fisher said. “By 2021, the final year of the (minimum wage) roll out, the $600 tax credit would double to $1,200 (per employee).”

Changes to the State budget are also part of the organization’s plan going forward.

The Executive Budget for fiscal year 2017 in New York includes a $23.5 million decrease to the Department of Agriculture from 2016.

The Environmental Protection Fund will receive additional funding to help with water quality and farmland conservation programs. But some programs related to research, technical assistance and product promotion may not receive any government funding.

“We know this will be a tough budget year as the state grapples with a potentially $4 billion deficit,” Fisher said.

The New York Farm Bureau will also work to ensure the next generation of farmers have access to the best educators and research techniques possible.

The organization is looking to secure $2 million to serve as funding to attract faculty and researchers to Cornell University. And another $3 million to help update infrastructure at the school’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“This support is vital for our agricultural community. The information and expertise that comes out of Cornell to our farms helps us plan for the future, implement best practices on our farms and address pressing pest and weather-related challenges that can be harmful to farms that aren’t prepared,” Fisher said.

Other organizational goals include helping schools promote local food and supporting efforts to combat tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease.