(Albany, NY) The Senate today will pass a series of bills to support farmers and the agriculture industry across New York State. The legislation being advanced by the Senate Majority broadens the presence and promotion of farmers’ markets and New York farm products, provides services and assistance for farmers and agriculture workers, and increases education efforts to encourage the continued growth of the agriculture industry.
“The agricultural industry is crucial to the state economy and we must provide farmers with the support they need,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “The bills advanced by the Senate Majority will help struggling farms, encourage more New Yorkers to pursue agricultural jobs, and help increase access to locally grown food. I commend Senator Jen Metzger, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, and the bill sponsors for their close attention to addressing the challenges faced by New York farmers and the state’s agriculture industry.”
The legislation advanced by the Senate Majority includes:
- Farm Workforce Retention Credit Increase: This bill S.6773 sponsored by Senator Jen Metzger will increase the amount of the Farm Workforce Retention Credit for tax year 2021 to $800 per employee (an increase of $200), and propose the permanent extension of a $1,200 credit for tax year 2022 and beyond.
- New York Craft Beverage Permit: This bill S.6653 sponsored by Senator James Skoufis will establish a temporary craft beverage permit, which allows New York state special spirits manufacturers to apply for temporary 24-hour permits.
- Increased Farmers’ Markets in Parks: This bill S.5822A sponsored by Senator Jen Metzger will allow more farmers’ markets in state and local parks, increasing the number of available locations for farmers’ markets and improving New Yorkers’ access to locally grown foods.
- Farming Hotline: This bill S.4655 sponsored by senator Jen Metzger will create a “one stop” hotline for farms to access information and resources that assist in establishing and expanding their businesses. Information includes grant opportunities, agricultural research, marketing possibilities, and other agricultural resources.
- Young Farmer Apprentice Program: This bill, S.3873A, sponsored by Senator Rachel May will authorize BOCES to establish an agriculture program for students. This program will encourage, educate young farmers, and help sustain New York’s agriculture industry.
- Agricultural Custom Operator Protections: This bill S.5437 sponsored by Senator Jen Metzger defines agricultural custom operator and provides them with the same protections afforded to farm owners in agricultural districts.
- Farm Product Holiday Promotions: This bill S.2069 sponsored by Senator Jen Metzger authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Markets to assist in the promotion, marketing, and sale of York State agricultural holiday products.
- Regional Farmers’ Market Expansion: This bill S.251 sponsored by Senator Tim Kennedy will allow the Department of Agriculture and Markets to establish or expand existing regional farmers’ markets. Focus will be placed on areas of the state where consumers have poor access to high quality and reasonably priced fresh food and farm products.
- New York Farm School and School Garden Fund: This bill S.3804A sponsored by Senator Rachel May will create a fund, which will provide schools the resources to build school gardens, purchase gardening equipment, and educational materials. Revenue from this fund will give students hands on experience in agriculture and promote consumption of local products.
Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Bill Sponsor, Senator Jen Metzger said, “Hard-working New York farmers deserve our full support, and today the Senate is passing a package of legislation that will help reduce their costs, expand markets for their products, make access to technical support easier, and help nurture the next generation of farmers. As Chair of the Agriculture Committee and representative of a district with many hundreds of small and mid-sized family farms, I recognize the vital importance of agriculture to our economy, our rural communities, and our long-term food security, and this package of legislation will help address the very real challenges facing New York’s farms. I want to thank Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins and my Senate colleagues for their support of five of my bills before the Senate today, including legislation that would increase the Farm Workforce Retention Credit and provide needed relief to New York farms struggling to compete with higher costs.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator Rachel May, said, “Young people are the future of our agricultural industry. I am proud to advance legislation that provides young people with more support and opportunities to engage in careers in farming. This slate of legislation demonstrates the Senate Majority’s continued commitment to our farmers and rural communities across the state.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator Tim Kennedy, said, “New Yorkers deserve better when it comes to accessing quality, healthy food, and with the passage of this legislation, it is our hope that we’re not only creating stronger partnerships for our farmers, but that we’re addressing the food deserts that continue to persist statewide. This package of bills places a renewed focus on attaining locally grown, nutritious food, and ultimately will help both New York’s producers and consumers live healthier and more productive lives.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator James Skoufis, said, “We need to create every opportunity for small businesses, especially farmers, to sell their products. Under current law, producers of specialty spirits such as farm distillers, cannot make their products available at any event. Unlike beer and wine, there is currently no permit process under New York law for distilled spirits. New York State is fortunate to have many local farmers who contribute to our economy and we should empower them to continue to do so.”
Senator Alessandra Biaggi said, “As one of the leading fresh fruit and vegetable producers in the country, New York State must take proactive steps to sustain the long-term growth of our agricultural industry. This package of legislation will provide farmers with the resources they need to thrive in an evolving economy, expand access to locally grown foods, and create programming to groom the next generation of farmers and agricultural innovators. I thank Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins and the bill sponsors for their leadership – I am proud to join them in moving these bills forward.”
Senator David Carlucci said, “Its vitally important that we support our farm workers in New York State because the agriculture industry contributes to our economy, creates jobs, and allows our state to be more sustainable. We need to offer farmers the resources necessary to grow a profitable business, and also encourage more young people to enter the agriculture field. I am proud to support legislation that will benefit New Yorker farmers, their families, and our young people.”
Senator Jim Gaughran said, “New York’s agriculture is a major economic driver for our state and these bills will help promote local economies and our state’s access to fresh, locally-sourced products. I thank Leader Stewart-Cousins for prioritizing New York businesses and fresh, local products in putting forward these important bills.”
Senator Pete Harckham said, “Farmers across New York struggle today with a wide range of economic hardships, and because they are the backbone of many of our rural communities it makes good sense to find new ways to help them remain viable and competitive. By expanding local markets for the agricultural sector and offering programmatic support through this package of legislation, we can ensure that the next generation of hard-working farmers continues to make a respectable living while providing fresh products for our residents.”
Senator Brad Hoylman said, “New York is home to more than 33,400 farms ranging from urban farms in Manhattan to dairy farms in the Finger Lakes. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Jen Metzger, our Senate Majority is passing meaningful legislation to help our state’s agricultural sector. I’m proud to be voting for these important bills which will help workers, farm owners and consumers thrive in New York.”
Senator Kevin Parker said, “Agriculture plays a significant role in New York’s economy; farmers provide food for our tables and economic opportunities for New York residents. It is therefore vital that we continue to create and pass legislation that will give the farmers of New York continued and expanded access to the economy, so that farming can be financially beneficial today and for future generations.”
Senator Jessica Ramos said, “Last year we rectified a wrong in New York State labor law by granting farm workers basic labor rights that they were excluded from for far too long. Increasing and extending the farm workforce retention credit is critical to ensuring that New York State agriculture is able to adjust to these new laws and thrive in a competitive marketplace. Furthermore, the creation of the New York Farm School and School Garden Fund will impact the lives of countless students by creating much needed green spaces for interactive environmental student learning.”