Farm Bureau poised to push back against rising costs of farming
Farmers in Central New York and across the state will be watching Albany closely over the next few months to ensure their concerns are front and center, as the New York Farm Bureau released its priorities Tuesday for the legislative session.
Bureau President David Fisher said the recent minimum wage increase is only the beginning of their challenges.
"It just climbed a dollar an hour at the end of the year, and we'll likely hit 15 dollars upstate by the end of this year to match what's in New York City and Long Island. The overtime threshold will begin to drop as well next year. We can't keep making it more expensive to do business in this state, especially when other states are far behind our wage rates," Fisher said.
Dave Knapp, co-chair of the Onondaga County Agriculture Council said the price of business is making it hard for farmers to stay competitive.
"It really puts us at a competitive disadvantage as we're trying to market our products outside of New York state, or protecting our local markets from imports coming in from neighboring states and Canada," Knapp said.
He said the Farm Bureau knows that farms are under immense pressure. They’re feeling the pinch of higher transportation, energy and fertilizer costs. Diseases threaten to wipe out flocks and herds, and, Knapp said, there’s the fight to keep farmland for crops rather than solar farms.
"There's a lot of really, really rich soils that are being converted over to solar farms, and that affects the available land for farming. They're really asking the state to try and strike a balance," Knapp said.
Knapp said farmland preservation is critical to keeping agriculture strong. He said the state needs to give family farmers more of an incentive to pass their operations to the next generation, or at least make sure the land stays in agriculture if they decide to sell. Knapp said this especially important in the context of development spurred by Micron.
Farm Bureau officials noted that Gov. Kathy Hochul has been a strong ally of agriculture since her time in Congress, and expect that commitment to continue as she prepares to submit her budget proposal in the days ahead.