Senate Supports Agriculture, Passes Bills Benefitting Maple and Honey Producers

March 03, 2010

The New York State Senate showed strong support for New York’s agriculture industry and markets today, passing two bills (S6318, S6268) which will allow those agribusinesses dealing with the production of honey and maple to run their operations more efficiently and more profitably.
Agriculture is one of the state’s largest industries, selling $4.5 billion worth of products in 2007; about 25 percent of the state’s land is used for agriculture. While dairy farms largely dominate New York agriculture, however, the maple industry is second only to Vermont and honey producers generate over $5 million worth of honey annually.
Opening Maple Producers’ Doors
Expanding the definition of agricultural buildings to include maple production facilities and sugarhouses, the bill (S6318), sponsored by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Senator Darrel J. Aubertine (D-Cape Vincent), will enable maple producers to avoid unnecessary administrative barriers they currently face when building such facilities. New York State is consistently one of the top maple producing states in the country, and there is still more room for growth as the state has more tappable trees than any other state. Moreover, the legislation will also allow for public access as an agritourism activity by allowing maple producers to open their establishments to tourists in order to promote their products.
Ensuring Beekeeping Efficiency
Removing 2007 provisions requiring beekeepers to allow the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets to make surveys of their apiary (bee) yards is the focus of a bill (S6268) sponsored by Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida). The current provisions allow the commissioner to open and inspect any hive, colony, or package that he or she has reason to believe is containing bees or other objects relating to beekeeping. Regardless of the intentions of the provisions from 2007, they have not been utilized properly and by repealing them there is great potential for state savings. By removing unneeded regulations, beekeepers across the state will once again be free to run their agribusiness efficiently and profitably.
“Agriculture is the driving force of our state’s economy, especially Upstate, and critically important in our efforts to create jobs in this difficult economy,” said Senator Aubertine who also Chairs the Upstate Caucus and the Rural Resources Commission. “These bills clear up unnecessary regulations on two specialty agriculture industries and, in doing so, will enable the honey and maple producers to be more competitive and grow their businesses. It is important we build on our commitment to the state’s agriculture industries.”
“Agriculture plays a critical role in our economy, and this legislation is another step toward easing unnecessary regulation on agribusiness in New York State,” Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) said. “We need to continue to find ways to create a more friendly business climate and to eliminate duplicative efforts that cost taxpayers money.”
“It is about time that the Senate recognized the unnecessary regulations imposed on agribusinesses as this legislation should give maple and honey producers a considerable boost,” Senator William T. Stachowski (D-Lake View) said. “They are vital to the well being of our state and we need to do all we can to improve their efficiency and productivity.”
Senator Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point) said, “This is common sense legislation as the facts very clearly show that agriculture is a vital aspect of the well-being of our state. The legislation passed today saves our state, maple and honey producers from incurring unnecessary costs.”
“This bill will let us keep our bee yards proprietary and protect our ability to keep our bees with our colonies,” said Ted Elk, owner and operator of Many Flowers Honey Co. in Hammond. “It’s going to eliminate a lot of unnecessary and redundant paperwork for us and save us a great deal of work. I want to thank Senators Valesky and Aubertine for their leadership in addressing the needs of beekeepers and our industry.”