New York State Assembly, Albany, New York 12248

2002 Legislative Newsletter
from the
NYS Assembly

Sheldon Silver, Speaker square William Magee, Chairman square Summer 2002

" The Assembly Agriculture Committee is enthusiastically looking for innovative ideas and programs that will not only assist our farmers and agribusinesses in surviving, but thriving – let’s make sure that New York remains the AgriEmpire State. "

  • Bill Magee
    Assembly Agriculture Committee

Questions or Comments?
Contact the Assembly Agriculture Committee at:
Room 641 - LOB
Albany, N.Y. 12248
Telephone: 518-455-4807

A Message from the Chair

The Assembly has long recognized that we cannot talk about the economy of Upstate New York without talking about agriculture. The fact is, without agriculture there is no economy in Upstate.

Whether in terms of the bounty of nutritious products that our farmers produce or the billions of dollars they contribute to our economy, one of the Assembly Agriculture Committee’s primary goals is simply to ensure that the two percent of people producing the food are not forgotten by the ninety-eight percent eating it.

We are working to grow agriculture as a business in New York, and we are working to promote the benefits of farming to all New Yorkers. Farming adds dollars to our economy, it preserves the open spaces we all enjoy and it protects the rural character of our communities.

This newsletter is meant to bring you up-to-date on the agricultural happenings in Albany, the issues most affecting all of our farmers and agribusinesses, and the committee’s efforts to make sure that our farmers not only survive, but thrive.

Bill Magee
Chair, Assembly Agriculture Committee

Assembly Takes Steps to Manage Deer Population

There is a possibility that the deer population could increase by over 30 percent in one year. With car-deer accidents causing $120 million annually in damage, and with an estimated $70 million in destruction to crops and another $60 million in damage to residential shrubs and flowers annually due to this burgeoning number of deer, the Assembly has taken a leadership role in trying to find new and better ways to manage the deer population.

As part of that effort, the Assembly has passed a bill (A.11166) which would give the Department of Environmental Conservation greater flexibility in managing the deer populations.

The bill includes granting hunters the ability to transfer deer management permits, changing of the beginning of the deer season, allowing hunters who have filled their tags to remain in the hunting party, and giving the DEC the authority to establish open seasons and bag limits.

This bill is awaiting action by the Governor.

Committee Happenings

Project MOO
"mooving" along

photo Chairman Magee and Scott Rapasadi of Aramatic Refreshment Services in front of a sold out milk vending machine on Dairy Day.
With milk making up only a small percentage of the beverages being sold from vending machines, it would seem that milk vending machines are a natural and untapped market that would improve the outlook for our dairy farmers and provide our school children and others with a nutritious and healthy alternative to soda.

Recognizing that, Chairman Magee along with the State University of New York at Morrisville have developed a program known as Project MOO (Milk Out in the Open) to place milk vending machines in schools.

The initial program placed MOO machines in three schools in Madison and Oneida Counties, with SUNY Morrisville students conducting taste testings and focus groups to determine the viability and profitability of milk vending machines. As a result, it was determined that students, overwhelmingly, will purchase vended milk, with one of their favorite flavors being chocolate.

With the number of milk and dairy based beverages and sports drinks continuing to increase there is little doubt that milk vending machines will become a common sight all around every town.

Making vended milk
a better sell

Making another try at improving the market for vended milk products in New York State, Assemblyman Bill Magee has introduced legislation similar to that previously vetoed that would provide an incentive for vending companies to get into the vended milk market.

The bill – A.11097 - specifically exempts vending companies from duplicative and burdensome state regulations while maintaining their strict adherence to the state sanitary code. The ultimate goal of this bill is to create a strong partnership with vending companies in order to create a larger market for vending milk from machines. In the end this will aid our dairy farmers, consumers and overall economy.

This bill is awaiting action by the Governor.

Federal Farm Bill benefits
New York dairies

Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee joined with others across the state in lobbying United States Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, as well as the Congressional delegation, for a farm bill that was beneficial to New York dairy farmers.

The result is the Federal farm bill, which includes provisions to establish a three and a half year National Dairy Program. This program will provide assistance to dairy farmers through monthly payments equal to 45 percent of the difference between $16.94 and the Boston Class I price on the first 2.4 million pounds of milk. There are estimates that this could translate into an additional $15,000 in revenue annually for the average dairy farm in New York State.

Agricultural districts improved

There is no doubt that agricultural districts have proven to be an important tool for our farmers and the Assembly is working to improve their effectiveness in helping our farmers do what they do best — farm. Included in the bills the Assembly is working on to enhance the agricultural districts program are:

  • Assembly bill 10427, sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Magee, which allows for the inclusion of viable agricultural land within an agricultural district prior to the established review period. This bill is awaiting action by the Governor.
  • Assembly bill 10307, sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Magee, which seeks to assist smaller farmers by reducing the size of the parcels of land that can qualify for an agricultural assessment. This bill is awaiting action by the Governor.

Farm vehicles get
easier to repair

Under a bill (A.5865) that has passed the Assembly, registered farm vehicles will now be allowed to be driven up to twenty-five miles to a repair shop or garage for normal maintenance or necessary repairs. As it is now, farmers must pay to have the vehicle towed to a repair shop for service and repairs. This bill is awaiting action by the Governor.

Other Farm Information & Initiatives

A boost for New York’s equine industry

Whether measured by the number of people boarding, breeding and racing horses, or by the increase in horse trails, it is absolutely clear that the equine industry in New York State is growing by leaps and bounds. This is only having a positive effect on the agriculture industry, as the horse industry contributes billions of dollars to the New York economy and employs thousands of people right here in our state. Among the bills the Assembly has passed to assist with the continued growth of the equine industry are:

  • Assembly bill 10424, sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Magee, which would expand the eligibility for horse farmers to receive the agricultural assessment by including awards from the Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund towards the farm income threshold. This bill is awaiting action by the Governor.
  • Assembly bill 10426, sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Magee, which would provide more uniform assistance for those engaged in commercial horse boarding operations by eliminating county legislative approval as a requirement for receiving the agriculture assessment. This bill is awaiting action by the Governor.
  • Assembly bill 10152, sponsored by Assemblyman Jake Gunther, which would prohibit the use of double decker trailers for the transporting and moving of horses. This bill is awaiting action by the Governor.

photo Chairman Magee with Art Hunt of Hunt Country Vineyards.
All that and a bottle of New York wine

With New York State ranking second in wine production in the United States and with over 150 wineries and almost 1,000 grape growers generating over $500 million annually in sales and $85 million in state and local tax revenue, the Assembly is assisting the wine and grape industries with becoming an even greater economic force both in New York State and — as New York produced wine has been gaining national and international recognition and attention — throughout the United States. Among the bills that the Assembly is pursuing are:

  • Assembly bill 8646, sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Magee, which allows for and clarifies the right of off premise winery tourist stores to continue to sell New York wine on Sundays. This bill is awaiting action by the Governor.
  • Assembly bill 5662, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Magee, would authorize New York wineries to conduct tastings of the brandy they produce. This bill is awaiting action by the Governor.
  • Assembly bill 11018 (Chapter 77 Laws of 2002), sponsored by Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, which creates the Niagara Wine Trail, and Assembly bill 11129, sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Magee, which creates the Lake Ontario Wine Trail in an effort to promote and grow the wine and tourist industries in those regions. A.11129 is awaiting action by the Governor.

Christmas may come early for tree farmers

Spurred on by Mrs. O’Conner’s fourth grade class at Cazenovia Elementary School — which was upset to learn that real Christmas trees were not allowed in their classroom — Assemblyman Bill Magee has introduced Assembly bill 10475, which would allow for the seasonal placement of real evergreen trees in schools and other public buildings. With at least 1,500 tree farmers generating over $10 million annually in sales, the passage of this bill would prove to be a great victory for New York tree farmers. This bill is being considered by the Assembly Rules Committee.

Additionally, Assemblyman Magee has introduced Assembly bill 3111 which seeks to enhance the outlook of Christmas tree growers by making them eligible for the Agricultural Property Tax Credit just as all other agricultural enterprises are. This bill is being considered by the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

Chairman Magee and Mrs. O’Conner’s fourth grade class at Cazenovia Elementary School lobbying in Albany for a bill allowing live Christmas trees in schools and public buildings.

Other Farm Information & Initiatives

photo Chairman Magee at the kick off for the Pride of New York Program at the Grand Union in Glenmont.

photo Chairman Magee, Speaker Silver and Bill Byrne of Byrne Dairy at Dairy Day festivities in Albany.

photo Chairman Magee and members of the Agriculture Committee touring I.L. Richer Feeds in Oneida County.

Time and again, surveys have shown that consumers would prefer to buy a "locally grown, locally known" product if it is comparable in both price and quality. This has never been more true than now as more and more food and farm products are being imported to both New York State and the United States.

As a long time advocate of promoting New York produced and processed food to New Yorkers, Assemblyman Bill Magee has worked tirelessly to ensure that farmers have access to programs that assist in marketing their products. As all farmers know, it doesn’t matter how much you can grow, but how much you can sell that will determine if you remain in business.

That’s why Assemblyman Magee joined with other Agriculture Committee members and the Department of Agriculture and Markets to kick-off the grand opening of the first major Pride of New York display at the Grand Union in Glenmont.

The Pride of New York Program is a voluntary program administered by the Department of Agriculture and Markets that works with New York producers and processors to promote and market the many farm products and agricultural commodities that are processed and produced right here in New York State.

Efforts to Improve the Cattle Health Assurance Program
With New York State being a leader in animal and livestock health and research — and in programs to assure a safe and wholesome food supply — the Assembly has passed a bill (A.8597) that strengthens the New York State Cattle Health Assurance Program (NYSCHAP) by giving it express statutory establishment so that NYSCHAP can continue to serve farmers and consumers for generations to come. This bill is awaiting action by the Governor.
AgriDevelopment and Energy Incentives

For too long, traditional economic development and energy incentive programs have not focused on agriculture, food processing and farming as an industry. To change this, the Assembly has introduced:

  • Assembly bill 9875, sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Magee, which would infuse up to $50 million in venture-type capital into the agriculture industry by allowing the first state sponsored real estate tax exemption to be offered in New York Statefor the investment of assets of the State Retirement System into farm and agribusiness operations. This bill is being considered by the Assembly Governmental Employees Committee.
  • Assembly bill 7386, sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Magee, would create the first ever in the state AgriDevelopment Zones — patterned after Empire Zones — which would provide a variety of economic, financial and other assistance to farms and agribusinesses located within a zone. This bill is being considered by the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.
  • Assembly bill 7214, sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Tonko, which would prohibit utility companies from imposing fees or penalties on a farmer who utilizes an on-site electric generation system. This bill is awaiting action by the Senate.
  • Assembly bill 10740, sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Tonko, authorizes the use of net metering for farms that operate a farm waste electric generating system, which could result in significant savings for farmers who use this technology to generate electricity. This bill is awaiting action by the Governor.

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