Priority Issues for 2014
The New York Farm Bureau Board of Directors has established the following state and national Priority Issues for 2014. See NYFB's complete state and national priority issue booklets as PDF files.
Also view NYFB's budget analysis of the Governor's 2014-15 Executive Budget Proposal.
Table of Contents for Policy Book 2014 Policy Book
Fueling the Economy
Goal: To put it simply, farms fuel the state’s economy – especially in the many rural regions of the state. In many communities, farms are the largest employer in the area. They also support other business employment, such as equipment and seed dealers. With the proper investment and needed changes, farming can lead the state back to economic health.
• Increase the state estate tax threshold for farms
• Support for a refundable investment tax credit
• Support a pilot program where beginning farmers receive tax incentives to start a farm in New York State. For example, incentives could be similar to those provided in the newly enacted Start-Up NY program.
• Establish a bonus depreciation program for farms in New York. The program would accelerate depreciation on farm investment in a manner similar to the federal bonus depreciation benefit
• Support for reform of New York’s regulatory environment and promotion of a “one-stop” on-farm enforcement program that limits the number of enforcement inspections by state agencies
• Support basing LLC filing fees on net income instead of gross income
• Support repeal of the Article 18A utility tax surcharge
• Oppose mandatory GMO labeling of food
• Support safe drilling for natural gas in all formations in New York State
• Support linking a percentage of the state’s excise tax on wine to permanently supplement funding for the Wine and Grape Foundation
• Support reform of New York’s Inherent Risk law for equine operations
Wise Investment in Agriculture
Goal: State funding for agricultural promotional, research, and economic development programs have been reduced by over 50 percent over the last 5 years. This lack of investment has taken a considerable toll on rural infrastructures, both on farms and off.
While farmers understand that need for balancing state financial resources, it is impossible to stem budgetary shortfalls on the backs of the agricultural industry while still keeping the promise of renewing investment in the industry and rural economies. New York State must ensure that food and livestock safety programs, along with other promotional, research and economic development programs are properly funded in the final 2014-2015 state budget.
• Support for funding for critical food safety, animal health and agricultural promotion and economic development programs in the Agriculture and Markets budget.
• Support for funding of Environmental Protection Fund programs that provide cost-sharing of critical farm water quality and farmland protection projects that allow farms to reinvest in their farm business.
• Focus on funding the Agricultural Environmental Management Program, in light of impending Chesapeake Bay TMDL implementation and state CAFO permit regulatory changes.
• Increase funding for Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
• Establish Freedom of Information Law protections for farms enrolled in state government programs, such as the New York State Cattle Health Assurance Program.
A Healthy “Farm to Market” Transportation System
Goal: Growing a quality local farm product is only half the battle. The other, equally important, part of the effort is getting that product to market efficiently and at low cost. Any time transportation costs increase, any profit a New York farm may make is reduced. Similarly, any regulation or statute that makes it hard for a consumer to access our farm products simply drives the consumer to make easier or less expensive food options, which counter-intuitively, most likely will not be local options. Changes must be made to provide simpler and less expensive opportunities to meet farm transportation needs and provide local, healthy and affordable food to urban and rural consumers in New York.
• Support immediate investment in repair of critical road and bridge infrastructure to maintain quality access to farm fields and consumers in order to alleviate farm access issues, such as municipalities lowering weight limits on bridges instead of addressing the structural problem
• Address state transportation law to ensure full conformity with new federal transportation law for agricultural vehicles
• Oppose any increases to tolls on the New York State Thruway
• Establish a Farm EZ-Pass
• Support legislation removing the “blue card” requirement for farm trucks
• Support allowing agency action to establish new and expanded wine trails in New York State
Local Food/Local Farms
Goal: “Go local” has become the rallying cry for the local food movement which is driving food and agricultural policy decisions at the supermarket and at the State Capitol. Increasing consumer demand has opened new direct market opportunities for the farm community and has the potential to leverage local farm sourcing in institutional procurement. NYFB looks to strategically establish and grow state programs that directly and indirectly support local and regional food systems and the producers that comprise them.
• Support regional food hubs
• Support a state tax credit for donations of locally grown food by farmers to Food Banks
• Support the “Buy from the Backyard Act”, S.2468 Libous/A.8038 Peoples, which requires state agencies to buy 20% of their food from NY producers and processors