ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Thursday, the Senate Democratic Majority advanced legislation supporting farmers and the agriculture industry across New York State.
“New York’s family farms and agriculture industry are crucial to the economy and communities across the state,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “Throughout the pandemic, we have seen how local farms can help New Yorkers who are living in food deserts access healthy foods. These bills will help increase access to locally grown food and assist struggling farms. I thank the bill sponsors for their strong support of New York’s agriculture industry and farmers.”
“New York is an Ag state, so strengthening our agricultural sector benefits all of us,” Bill Sponsor and Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Michelle Hinchey said.
The legislation passed by the Senate Majority include:
- New York State Council on Food Policy: This bill, sponsored by Senator James Sanders Jr., creates the New York State Council on Food Policy. The Council will develop and track guidelines and programs that promote locally grown food products and set goals for procurement of locally grown foods by state agencies.
- Agricultural Custom Operators: This bill, sponsored by Senator Michelle Hinchey, extends statutory protections for farmers to contractors hired by farmers to work on farmlands with an agricultural district.
- Expansion of Regional Farmers Markets: This bill, sponsored by Senator Tim Kennedy, directs the Department of Agriculture and Markets to facilitate the establishment of regional farmers’ markets in order to directly market NY grown products. This will benefit those with low access to high quality and reasonably priced fresh food and farm products, especially in areas that are “food deserts.”
- New York State Animal and Plant Fiber Program: This bill, sponsored by Senator Rachel May, establishes the New York State Animal and Plant Fiber Program, which includes animal and plant fiber products grown in New York in the New York State Grown and Certified program.
- One-Stop Farming Hotline: This bill, sponsored by Michelle Hinchey, establishes a one-stop farmer hotline operated by the Cornell Cooperative Extension for farmers, agricultural professionals, and others to access information and referral services regarding programs that assist in establishing and expanding farm and agricultural related businesses.
- Establishes a Carbon Farming Tax Credit: This bill, sponsored by Senator Kevin Parker, establishes a tax credit for farmers that adopt practices to limit carbon emissions and promote carbon sequestration. This bill will help combat climate change.
- Nourish New York Program: This bill, sponsored by Senator Michelle Hinchey, makes the Nourish New York program permanent and ensures that certain surplus agricultural products are provided to food relief organizations at competitive wholesale prices. This helps both farmers and those experiencing food insecurity.