The New York Farm Bureau publishes the state’s legislative priorities for 2021 Information, Sports activities, Jobs
The New York Farm Bureau has published its legislative priorities for 2021, addressing the needs and challenges of state agriculture in New York, especially after a difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic still weighs heavily on all New Yorkers. The farming community came together in a variety of ways to contain the spread of the virus, protect employees, adapt to major market disruptions, and bring the food to all parts of the state. To stay vigilant, the New York Farm Bureau has made rural access to the COVID-19 vaccine a top priority. The New York Farm Bureau, along with its agricultural partners, urges New York State to enroll farm workers in Phase 1 B vaccination as soon as possible, and urges the departments of Health, Agriculture, and Markets to work together to develop a plan farming community to set up vaccination centers targeting our farm workers. The New York Farm Bureau also participates in the “Let’s Immunize NY” Coalition to Spread Awareness for the Safety and Effectiveness of Vaccination.
“We understand the vaccine has logistical and supply issues, but as we learned last year we must do everything we can to ensure our food supply chain is smooth and safe. It starts on our farms. “ said David Fisher, a Madrid dairy farmer and president of the NYFB.
NEW YORK STATE BUDGET
The state budget will also be an important focus for the New York Farm Bureau. The pandemic put pressure on the state’s financial health as lawmakers face a massive deficit. Overall, New York Farm Bureau officials said they were satisfied with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget plan, which will fund most programs at last year’s levels. The budget is responsible for many agricultural research, marketing, conservation, and animal health programs. They are essential to the success of the agribusiness in many ways. Cuomo is also committed to continuing the employee retention tax credit of $ 600 per employee to help manage rising labor costs.
The New York Farm Bureau is asking Nourish NY to be again fully funded with $ 25 million, as highlighted in the executive’s budget. When major disruption to the food supply chain began at the start of the pandemic, Nourish NY stepped in to coordinate a way to move food from farms to food banks, including in New York City. It compensates farmers for their products while reducing food waste.
“With budget negotiations approaching April 1st, we urge lawmakers to approach the budget in a wise and careful manner. Agricultural finance is a tiny fraction of total government spending, but farms feed all New Yorkers and are an economic engine that brings back government investment many times over. Cutting funding for these essential programs would create even greater barriers to government farms and the food system, which would later prove more costly to correct. “ said Fisher.
The pandemic has also re-exposed the need for greater investment in fast, reliable rural broadband. In his state address, Cuomo attached particular importance to this need. It corresponds to another priority of the New York Farm Bureau.
“Having access to reliable rural broadband benefits farms in many ways to do business efficiently, access market data and increasingly use high-tech equipment. But it is also our farming families who need good broadband when they have to work from home and go to school. “ said Jeff Williams, the public policy director for the New York Farm Bureau.
Another priority for the New York Farm Bureau is a renewed focus on science-based policymaking in the capital. Farm Bureau officials said this is imperative as New York State wants to adequately address the effects of climate change. The New York Farm Bureau advocates the Environmental Protection Fund, research, and other legislative programs that involve farms in mitigation, carbon sequestration, and soil health initiatives. Many of these things are already happening on the state farms, and further support will benefit all of New York. This includes the expansion of renewable energies.
As the state seeks a science-based approach to tackling climate change, attention for science needs to turn to other policy choices. Bills have been passed in recent years attempting to eliminate certain risk management tools such as pesticides. However, according to Farm Bureau officials, the legislation was not based on research data or existing safety protocols. New York state is one of only two states in the country that has a separate product registration review process that analyzes pesticide data and whether the tools should be used in New York. Many lawmakers have recently chosen to bypass this process and make policy choices. The same goes for laws that ignore solid veterinary practices and proven agricultural protocols for animal care legislation.
“We all want the animals to be cared for in the best possible way. To do this, we work with our medical community to ensure that good intentions do not compromise animal health and safety. “ Williams said.
Ultimately, the need for farm labor will continue to be a priority for the New York Farm Bureau. New York State and its farmers are national leaders in labor protection, safety programs, and staff training.
A state labor ministry wages board held back to decide whether to lower the 60-hour overtime threshold for farm workers. Going forward, the New York Farm Bureau is asking the state to review economic data for at least the next three years to really understand the impact of last year’s Farm Workers Act on farms and workers. The organization also encourages members of the wage committee to visit farms safely to speak to farmers and farm workers alike. And if the state is looking for a parity for the overtime threshold, it should override the automatic overtime requirement if an employee works on their voluntary rest day, even if they haven’t worked enough hours to meet the overtime threshold. No other industry has this labor demand in New York State.
“Ultimately, it’s imperative that we all work together to expand opportunities and capitalize on what we’re doing well in New York. We have one of the most diverse agricultural sectors in the country. It is worthwhile for each of us to maintain this strong connection with food and agricultural production. “ said Williams.
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