Does the Consumer Protection Board have adequate staff to achieve its mission
to protect, educate and represent New York consumers?
The Motor Fuel Marketing Practices Act is set to expire on October 21, 2008.
How many complaints has the Consumer Protection Board received since the
Act went into effect? How many investigations has the Board initiated under
the statute? Does the Board believe the Act should be extended, made
permanent, or allowed to expire?
Assembly bill 347-A would require home improvement contractors to register
with the Consumer Protection Board and obtain surety bonding or pay into a
consumer restitution fund. Does the Board have any comments on this
legislation? Can the Board provide an estimate as to how many staff would
be needed to administer the program envisioned by this legislation?
What protections, if any, does the Consumer Protection Board think the state
should implement to protect consumers who use paid tax preparers in New
Does the Consumer Protection Board support legislation aimed at improving
New York's "Rent to Own Program Law" (Article 11 of the Personal Property
Law), such as Assembly bill 66-B?
What new initiatives have the Department of Agriculture and Markets undertaken
due to the SFY 2007-08 budget? What new initiatives, if any, does the Department
anticipate for the SFY 2008-09?
How many new full time positions were created and filled and how many existing
vacant lines were filled in SFY 2007-08? Does the Department anticipate any staffing
changes in SFY 2008-09?
Given that the New York State Division of Budget is forecasting a $4.3 billion General
Fund deficit for the 2008-09 fiscal year gap what are the potential ramifications on the
budget for the Department of Agriculture and Markets? Is there an anticipation of job
reductions and, if so, in what divisions? Is there an anticipation of funding reductions
for agricultural programs?
There has been $40 million allocated for the construction of a new food laboratory.
What is the current status of this? Has a decision been made with regard to the location
of the new laboratory? What is the timeline for the construction of this new laboratory?
In last year's testimony the Department indicated that it was committed to awarding
$20 million to as many as 4 proposals to build and operate a cellulosic ethanol pilot
facility in New York State within 3 years. Later in December 2006, the Department and
NYSERDA announced a $14.6 million award to Mascoma Corporation, in partnership with
Genecor International, to build such a plant in Rochester. What is the status of the
construction of that plant, and is it on schedule to be in operation by December of 2009?
Is the Department considering additional proposals under this appropriation?
What impact has Chapter 97 of the Laws of 2007, which allows the Department to authorize
an additional 30 days for retail food stores to comply with the Food Safety Education
Certification Program, had on businesses that have applied for a new Article 20-C license
or license renewal? What percentage of retail stores have been granted such extensions,
and have such extensions improved the process for certifying designees?
Pursuant to Chapter 527 of the Laws of 2005, the Department was charged with establishing
a grants program whereby municipalities could apply for money to assist in the creation of
local farmland protection plans. How much funding has the Department made available for
these purposes? How many municipalities have applied for this funding and how many projects
have been approved?
Chapter 124 of the Laws of 2007 allows municipalities to apply for money to update local
farmland protection plans after 10 years. Has the Department received any applications
pursuant to this new Chapter, and are the funds appropriated for farmland preservation
through the Environmental Protection Fund in SFY 2007-08 sufficient for this additional
How many pet dealers are currently licensed as compared to this time last year? What
new measures have been taken by the Department in the past year to improve the process
by which pet dealers and breeders are licensed and inspected as required by law?
The USDA, in the licensing of pet dealers under their jurisdiction, provides a much different
definition of pet dealer. Would this definition assist your inspectors with the difficulties the
Department has with licensing these individuals? If this change were made, what level of
resources would the Department need to ensure compliance with these provisions?
What measures has the Department taken in the past year to increase both pet owner
and veterinary participation in the reduced cost spay/neuter program? Is the level of
reimbursement rates for veterinarians an obstacle to widespread participation in the
program, and what level of additional resources would need to be made available to
increase such rates, if necessary, to a level which would stimulate such widespread
Chapter 126 of the Laws of 2007 allows various municipal and nonprofit groups to apply
to the Department for state assistance towards promotional support of Farmer's Markets.
How many applications has the Department received from those groups for such support,
and are the funds appropriated for Farmer's Market support in SFY 2007-08 sufficient for
this additional purpose?
In response to the low dairy prices and large dairy farm losses in 2006, the SFY 2007-08
budget included a $30 million appropriation for direct aid to dairy farmers, calculated on
a per-hundredweight basis and capped per producer at 4,800,800 pounds of milk
produced in 2006. What percentage of eligible dairy farmers participated in this
program? What was the ultimate reimbursement per hundredweight for participating
Chapter 249 of the Laws of 2007 expands the Department's inspection powers over
beekeepers and apiaries in New York State to include surveys to determine the size
and condition of the state's honeybee population. Has the Department initiated such
surveys, how comprehensive are they intended to be, and are existing funds in the
SFY 2007-08 budget to conduct a comprehensive survey the entire state honeybee
The agribusiness child development (ABCD) program received approximately $4.6 million
in funding for early childhood education and social services for farm workers. Is this funding
adequate for the ABCD program to continue to operate annually?
The New York State Fair consists of approximately 400 acres and nearly 100 structures
including 24 main structures, most of which were built during the 1930's. For fiscal years
1996 to 2005, the Fair received over $6 million in funding for preventative maintenance and
rehabilitation projects. How would the Department rate the condition of the buildings at the
fairgrounds? Is there any consideration being given to providing capital funding to assist
with the upgrade of these buildings and their infrastructures?