New York Farm Bureau Releases 2024 State Priorities
Marist Poll finds strong belief of economic value that New York’s family farms provide to New York State.
New York Farm Bureau released its 2024 state legislative priorities during a press call today that address the needs and challenges of the state’s diverse agricultural community.
The leading agricultural organization in this state also released survey results conducted by Marist Poll last November that found 83% of New York State adults believe that family-owned farms within the state provide either a great deal (49%) or a good amount (34%) of value to the state’s economy as a whole.
These numbers were reflected across the board of survey goers. Regardless of household income, political party, race and ethnicity, or education, the Marist Poll found a strong majority of New Yorkers think family-owned farms provide a great deal or a good amount of value to New York State’s economy. The margin of error was only 3.2-percent.
“We were pleased to see such strong support for our farms and the value our members provide to their communities and the state. These numbers reinforce that we must work together in Albany to create opportunities for New York agriculture that benefit us all,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.
President Fisher and NYFB Public Policy Director Jeff Williams highlighted the major issues based on member approved public policy positions.
Critical Budget Funding
The first priority is securing full funding for dozens of agricultural programs in the New York State budget. New York Farm Bureau has been in discussions with the governor’s office and the state legislature, and there is a lot of positive momentum out of the gate with the governor’s proposed budget.
This budget funds critical environmental, animal health, and research programs that farmers use and depend on to improve best management practices. This includes significant funding for agricultural programs in the Environmental Protection Fund, money to support workforce development and farm safety, and new funding to help modernize dairy infrastructure.
The NYS budget also promotes New York grown products across the state and world which helps businesses grow and generates additional economic activity for the state.
“The bottom line is the state budget is an investment into our state’s farms and local food production. We all benefit when we have a strong farming community,” said President Fisher during the press call.
Increase Food Access
NYFB is also prioritizing full funding for Nourish New York and the Healthy School Meals for All programs to increase access to locally produced food.
Nourish NY has proven to benefit both farms and people in need. It redirects fresh, locally grown food into regional food banks and emergency food pantries while also helping farms offset the costs to produce, harvest, package, and transport healthy food. It has been funded at $50 million in the past, and we looking to sustain that, if not increase funding for the program.
In addition, school meals’ funding saw an increase last year, and this year we are urging state leaders to fully fund Healthy School Meals for All. This would generate stable revenue for school districts and increase buying power for local food purchasing.
“It really is a win-win situation. It would expand access to local food for children, while providing school nutrition departments additional funding and streamlining connections with local food producers,” said Fisher.
Reliable and Affordable Electrification Policy
New York Farm Bureau has serious concerns with the continued push for electrification in the state to meet climate action goals. Farmers understand the need to take action to support our climate and mitigate the extreme weather that impacts our farms, but the organization is concerned that there is a great push for electrification before farms can successfully adopt it.
New York Farm Bureau supports electrification when reliable, battery-powered tractors & machinery exist on farms. But we are far from there. Not only do farmers need reliable, affordable equipment, farmers must be able to quickly charge machinery in the fields during crucial times, like planting and harvest seasons. Until these are realities, NYFB believes exemptions must be made for vehicles and machines where batteries do not supply enough power for the task at hand.
Plus, NYFB would like assurances that New York’s grid capacity in rural areas can support the level of electrical production and consumption that will be needed. If not, we must have additional exemptions for these areas if they cannot supply appropriate energy.
“We need common sense, reliable energy policy and not go too far, too fast. We must get this right for the sake of food production,” he said.
Extended Producer Responsibility Act
NYFB continues to have conversations with lawmakers on the proposed Extended Producer Responsibility legislation. This legislation looks to pass the cost and responsibility of recycling packaging away from the consumer and to the source of the product, in this case farms and food processors who need things like milk containers, wine bottles and food packaging to sell what they produce.
Recycling is better for the environment, which is why the state needs a stronger infrastructure for recycled plastic, especially in rural areas. Family farms are not able to take on an added burden that would upsend the recycling program in this state. This would eventually increase the cost of doing business and further drive-up consumer prices.
“Let’s incentivize recycling without raising business costs for New York’s food and beverage makers. Perhaps consider updating the bottle bill. In the end, higher costs for businesses can mean higher costs for their customers,” said Jeff Williams, NYFB’s Public Policy Director.
Direct to Consumer Shipping
NYFB is also prioritizing legislation allowing for direct-to-consumer shipping for all New York-produced farm beverages, including beer, cider, and spirits.
Currently, there is home delivery for liquor stores and wineries, but the state’s craft beverage makers do not have the same privilege to ship directly to their customers. There are several proposed bills in both the Senate and Assembly that address the issue. This would provide parity in the industry and a market opportunity for these businesses to reach new customers.
“We have had a good working relationship with the governor’s office and the legislature, and we look forward to continuing to partner together to address New York Farm Bureau’s priority issues. We believe that investing in New York agriculture and strengthening our food system has benefits for every New Yorker, no matter where you live. This is evident in the Marist Poll survey. Let’s expand opportunities and work through challenges to maintain that strong connection we have to diverse food and farm production in this state,” said Jeff Williams.
New York Farm Bureau is the State’s largest agricultural lobbying/trade organization. Its members and the public know the organization as “The Voice of New York Agriculture.” New York Farm Bureau’s mission is “Supporting today’s agricultural needs and creating member opportunities for tomorrow through advocacy and education.”