State Budget Invests in Hudson Valley Farmers
Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-Columbia, Dutchess) announced the 2017-18 state budget includes key initiatives that will directly impact Hudson Valley farms including funding for a first in the nation carbon farming proposal that she developed, as well as funding for the farm to food bank tax credit which was rejected in last year’s budget cycle.
Agriculture has historically been one of the primary industries in the 106th Assembly District and it will continue to play a significant role in the economic future of the Hudson Valley. Many time-tested farming practices also have environmental benefits. To promote the continuance of these practices, like planting cover crops or no-till practices, Barrett secured funding in the final budget for a study to establish incentives for climate smart farming practices. Commonly known as “carbon farming” these practices store carbon in the soil and mitigate release of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The model for this provision was her Carbon Farming Act (A3281) and she will be actively engaged in the carbon farming study to ensure that all farmers are provided financial incentives like tax credits for engaging in climate smart practices.
“Promoting carbon farming in New York achieves the mutually beneficial goals of improved soil health and agricultural production while also propelling us towards our climate smart targets; it’s a win-win for the farming and environmental communities alike,” said Barrett. “And it would make New York the first to create a model for climate smart agricultural practices that supports our hardworking farm families across the state.”
The Hudson Valley is home to both large and small-family farms and both have long been suppliers of the area's food pantries. Last year, legislation that would have provided a tax credit for donations of wholesome food to a food bank or other emergency food programs by eligible New York farmers was vetoed (A.10584 of 2016). The veto was met with widespread disappointment and became a priority for Barrett to be included in the 2017-18 budget. With her outspoken advocacy, along with others in her conference, the measure was successfully enacted and the new budget includes a twenty-five percent tax credit, up to $5,000 dollars, for qualified farmers who donate food to eligible food pantries.
“Hunger is a real issue for too many families in our region and our local food pantries do all they can to supply them with fresh food. This tax credit delivers a twofold benefit because farmers are able to cover the costs associated with donating food and - more importantly - our food pantries remain stocked with nutritious, locally grown food available to those in need,” added Barrett.
Additional agricultural funding in the budget supported by Barrett includes:
- $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund including $154 million for open space programs and $19 million for climate change mitigation;
- $2,120,000 for the NY Farm Viability Institute;
- $1,020,000 for the NY Wine and Grape Foundation;
- $842,000 for Cornell University’s Future Farmers of America Program;
- $800,000 for NY FarmNet’s Farm Family Assistance Program;
- $750,000 for the NY State Apple Growers Association;
- $380,000 for Cornell University’s Agriculture in the Classroom Program.