The New York State Senate today passed a state budget that provides millions to support and strengthen New York State’s leading industry – agriculture. The 2014-2015 state budget includes $8 million in new budget funding, the highest level in six years. Funding will go to farming programs and initiatives, as well as towards research, education, and agriculture promotion throughout New York State.
“As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I’m thrilled to see such significant investments being made in New York State’s largest industry—farming,” said Senator Patty Ritchie (R-C, Heuvelton). “One of the most important things that I believe this spending plan does is addresses the fact that our state’s hardworking farmers are getting older, and there needs to be more young people stepping into agriculture careers. By including my ‘Young Farmers NY’ plan in the budget, our state is giving the next generation the tools they need to strengthen family farming.”
The Senate Republicans’ Young Farmers NY Initiative is included in this year’s budget. This program is intended to encourage young farmers take over from the previous generation of farmers by easing some of the hurdles family farms in New York State are facing. This year’s budget helps to ensure a more promising future for many of our state’s family farms by fostering a smooth transfer of farmland to the next generation of farmers, preserving existing farmland, and helping young farmers overcome obstacles to give them a greater opportunity for a successful career in agriculture.
In addition, the agriculture and farming highlights include:
>Estate Tax: The budget increases the Estate Tax threshold from $1 million to over $5.25 million over a period of three years. This reform of the Estate Tax will encourage farm preservation from generation to generation. This will impact approximately 2,800 family farms throughout the state.
>Marketing New York Products: This budget works to expand marketing of New York’s products such as apples, berries, dairy, and maple by providing $1.3 million for product promotion.
>Beginning Farmer Innovation Grant Fund: This new program provides $615,000 for grants for beginning farmers. This money will encourage farming to continue in New York State, as well as help promote new farms to start up, and will be distributed on a competitive basis for the purpose of assisting innovative techniques and operations.
>Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Program: This new program includes $100,000 to help recent graduates ease the loan burden faced by new, young farmers.
>Future Farmers of America: This year’s budget includes increased funding for the Future Farmers of America (FFA) by $158,000 for a total of $350,000.
>Farming and Agriculture Research: This budget provides $3 million to Cornell Research and Extension, as well as $3 million in education and research grants.
>Farm Safety: The budget provides $1.6 million for farm safety such as tractor rollover protection grants.