Bills Sponsored by Senate Ag Chair Jen Metzger to Aid Farmers Signed into Law

Albany, NY…The Governor this afternoon signed into law two bills sponsored by Senate Agriculture Chair Jen Metzger (SD-42) and Assemblymember Aileen Gunther (AD-100) to support New York's family farms. The first (S8464A) ensures farmers negatively affected by COVID-19 do not lose their agricultural property tax assessments due to reduced sales. The second bill (S2069), signed in time for the fall holiday season, provides marketing assistance to promote products widely used in holiday celebrations that are produced by New York farms.

Nationally, many farms have seen a big decline in sales during this pandemic, and the bill introduced by Metzger will ensure that farmers can keep their agricultural tax assessment even if sales drop by half. Currently, agricultural operations are required to have at least $10,000 in gross sales over two years for farms over seven acres in size and $50,000 in gross sales for those under seven acres. The bill provides needed protections for New York's family farms during this challenging time.

“Our family farms have been hit hard during this pandemic, and face great uncertainty about what this year will bring in terms of sales," said Senator Jen Metzger, Chair of the State Senate's Agriculture Committee. “This bill provides assurance that farms can hold on to their agricultural property tax assessment even if gross sales fall short during this challenging time. Our farms are critical to New York's economic recovery and food security, and this law will help to keep our farmers on their land."

The second bill requires the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets to provide a listing of New York growers and producers of holiday products to New York vendors and to municipalities where these products are sold. Ag & Markets currently promotes other New York products, such as shellfish, wines, grapes and grape products, and the bill would extend this promotion program to a wider array of products. The Department will create a directory to provide a direct connection between growers and vendors who may currently be selling out-of-state products in stores, at festivals, on sidewalks, and in public venues around the state. Products in the listing may include Christmas trees, wreaths, pumpkins, flowers, turkeys, apples, and honey. 

“We can keep farming strong in New York by buying local," said Senator Jen Metzger. "As we approach the holiday season, this law will help ensure that New Yorkers have access to the bounty of high-quality New York products that are commonly part of our holiday celebrations, from pumpkins and turkeys to Christmas trees and wreaths." 

 Jen Metzger represents the 42nd Senate District, which includes all of Sullivan County and parts of Delaware, Orange, and Ulster Counties. Senator Metzger serves as Chair of the Agriculture Committee and sits on the Environmental Conservation, Education, Health, Energy and Telecommunications, Local Government, Women’s Issues, Domestic Animal Welfare, and Legislative Commission on Rural Resources Committees.