(ALBANY, NY) – With the Legislature scheduled to return to the Capitol in just three weeks, the Assembly Agriculture Committee gathered Thursday for a budget hearing ahead of the new session. Representatives from various farm, food, and animal welfare organizations offered testimony on the impact of the 2019-20 State Budget and to highlight their priorities for the upcoming budget year.
“Every part of NY agricultural, from research to production, faces significant challenges,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee. “That’s why it’s important for us to hear firsthand from those working in the industry. Given how central agriculture is to our economy, we need to be very strong advocates for their interests.”
Thursday’s hearing touched on a wide range of topics including the farm to school program, workforce shortages, farmland preservation, farm worker childcare, infrastructure, and the care and protection of companion animals. Testimony gathered during the hearing will be used by the Agriculture Committee to examine the overall impact and implementation of this year’s budget as it develops the 2020-21 State Budget when the new legislative session begins.
Last year, the Department of Agriculture and Markets budget included approximately $53.2 million for local assistance and $117.2 million for state operations. It also provided $19.4 million in funding for capital projects, including the State Fair, local fairs, and companion animal shelters. While these numbers are impressive, many programs have not kept pace with inflation, increases in the minimum wage, and increased consumer demand for various products and services.
In addition to working on the new budget, the Agriculture Committee is also considering legislative priorities for the 2020 session. The committee will review three pieces of legislation that were recently vetoed by the Governor. The Agriculture Investment Taskforce bill would have created a group to study, evaluate, and develop budget and policy recommendations regarding farm sustainability (A8347/S6553). The second bill would have helped encourage a new generation of farmers by expanding the NYS Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program (A8101/S5715). The final bill that was vetoed would have created new regulations for the reuse of tires on farms (A8303/S6554).