Senate Passes Bills to Help New York Farmers Expand to New Markets

May 20, 2013

The New York State Senate today passed three bills to help farmers succeed by improving agricultural marketing efforts and better connecting farms to consumers across the state. 

The “Buy From the Backyard Act” (S978), sponsored by Senator Thomas Libous (R-C-I, Binghamton), requires state agencies with food contracts to buy at least 20 percent of their food from New York sources. The bill expands upon an existing law that encourages state agencies to purchase local food products. Mental health facilities, prisons, universities, and state institutions that have food contracts would be required to purchase at least 20 percent that is grown, produced, harvested or processed in New York State. 

“If every household in New York spent just $15 per week on local food, we could pump $5.5 billion into New York State’s economy,” sponsor Senator Tom Libous said. “And that’s just households. The Buy From the Backyard Act will help state agencies join in supporting our farmers and stimulating the economy. We’re investing taxpayer dollars right back into our state.”

Two pieces of legislation sponsored by Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) would help optimize the ways farmers can best connect with customers, suppliers and distributors. A bill passed by the Senate today (S2147) directs the state to develop a long-term strategy for sustaining farming and food production by expediting and encouraging consumer trends towards the consumption of locally and regionally grown foods.
Another bill passed today (S2152) creates the strategic farm and food product development coordinating council to promote beneficial relationships. The Council would connect farmers with processors, wholesalers, distributors, and state institutional entities such as schools and prisons in order to promote the use of New York-grown products in New York. 

“New York State has significant high-quality agricultural assets that are widely known to produce excellent products,” said Senator Valesky. “From both economic and health perspectives, it makes sense to connect our own in-state markets to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to local products. This legislation will enable us to do this efficiently and effectively.”

The bills have been sent to the Assembly.