Albany proposal means to help young NY farmers with tax breaks, student loan forgiveness

David J. Valesky

March 18, 2014

By Teri Weaver |

on March 04, 2014 at 1:50 PM, updated March 04, 2014 at 2:10 PM

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, today introduced legislation that would put $30 million in state taxpayer money toward helping young New Yorkers replace an aging generation of farmers.

The "Young Farmers NY" legislative package includes a college loan forgiveness program, new tax breaks and an easing of property transfers -- all measures designed to encourage young people to choose agriculture as a career, according to Ritchie, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida, also supports the proposal.

According to the federal government, the average age of New York farmers is 57.1 years. For every farmer 35 or younger, there are two in New York that are 65 or older.

The legislation includes proposals that would create:

  • The Young Farmer Farm Preservation Tax Credit to provide eligible farmers with up to 10 percent of the sale or rental price of land or land or equipment to a new farmer. Estimated cost, $5 million.
  • A Young Farmer Revolving Loan Fund to provide $5 million for start-up loans for land and equipment purchases by new farmers. Estimated cost, $5 million.
  • Young Farmer Innovation Grants to allocate up to $50,000 for new farmers to reward new technology or production innovation. Estimated cost, $1 million.
  • Farm Savings Accounts, similar to college or retirement accounts that grow tax-free. Estimated cost, $5 million.
  • A Young Farmer Apprenticeship Program through BOCES programs. Estimated cost, $500,000.
  • A Young Farmer Student Loan Forgiveness Program to forgive student loans for as many as 10 agriculture-degree graduates each year who agree to work full-time in agriculture a minimum of five years. Estimated cost, $100,000.