Senate Okays Farm Relief Bill

James L. Seward

May 22, 2007

The state senate gave final legislative passage to a bill sponsored by Senator James L. Seward (R-C-I/Oneonta) that would provide relief to farmers from the potential high costs and red tape imposed by a new state regulation.

Senate bill 3022 would exempt permanent farm buildings on working farms from the state's property maintenance code, which would subject barns and other farm structures to various new and unprecedented inspections. Seward noted that agricultural buildings are already exempt from the state's building code, and that the bill simply extends that existing exemption to other agriculture-related buildings.

"The bill is a common sense effort to recognize that the property maintenance code was intended to address 'upkeep' of buildings like commercial offices and residential dwellings, not barns, silos and chicken coops," Seward said. "Farm buildings are unique and should be exempted from complying with regulations that make no sense when applied to agriculture. For instance, if the property maintenance code were applied to barns they couldn't store hay because it is a flammable substance. No farmer could afford to stay in business, given all of the other pressures on farming today, if he has to install sprinklers and perform the kinds of upgrades that the property maintenance code would require."

The bill is supported by the Farm Bureau. It is sponsored in the assembly by Assemblyman William Magee, chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee.

"It also provides mandaterelief for counties and towns, which would have to perform the inspections required under the code," Seward said.