New York Farm Bureau recently unveiled its 2011 agenda, demanding a reversal in the state’s unfavorable business climate through mandate reform, lower taxes and adoption of the Farmers Regulatory Relief Act.

“If Albany is serious about turning around the declining state economy, a good place to start is through agriculture,” said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau.

“We have been overtaxed and overregulated for too long” Norton said. “It’s time to jump start the economy by focusing on our food and farming system as an integral part of a revitalized New York.”  

“We have a solid game plan on how to turn things around and we hope Albany listens to us,” Norton said.

Farm Bureau endorses Governor Cuomo’s call for a 2.5 percent property tax cap and a mandate relief program. Rural school districts must also have the ability to roll back mandates and scale back contributions to pensions.

Farm Bureau also called for adoption of the Farmers Regulatory Relief Act, which would:
•  Eliminate Mass Transit Authority payroll tax
•  Repeal Article 18- a surcharge on electricity bills
•  Base LLC fees on net farm income
•  Eliminate MTA registration fee on farm vehicles
•  Eliminate wholesaler reporting requirements for wineries.

Farm Bureau also came out in support for the revitalization of Hunts Point Terminal Market in the Bronx, with a focus on boosting marketing opportunities for New York products. The Hunts Point market, which is in disrepair, is the primary entry point for produce into the New York City marketplace.

Norton said, “This market has the potential to open up more opportunities for New York consumers to eat New York grown products.”

Other priorities this year include making sure funding for food safety, economic development and market promotion remain in the state budget.

Farmers are also seeking a dedicated percentage of the state’s Manufacturing Assistance Program to food and farm processors, which will create jobs.

Farmers also want the Power for Jobs program renewed and reworked to allocate more low cost electricity to the agriculture industry. Energy costs are one of the highest costs in farming and the current program cuts out many farmers.

“We have a lot of work to get done in Albany this year,” Norton said. “But we are confident that legislators and the Governor will recognize that farm families in this state are a vital cog in the economy and that more must be done to help them thrive and survive.”