ALBANY — Governor Cuomo’s proposed executive budget rests on many uncertainties facing our state’s fiscal future. Without additional federal support, agricultural programs and rural needs would undoubtedly suffer.
The Governor’s budget address highlighted two priority issues for New York Farm Bureau, universal and accessible broadband and $25 million in additional funding for Nourish NY. Many rural communities are still lacking affordable and fast broadband which in turn slows down business activity and family necessities that many New Yorkers take for granted. Nourish NY has proven to be a lifeline for people in need as well as for many of our farms. When there were major disruptions along the food supply chain at the beginning of the pandemic, Nourish NY stepped in to coordinate a pathway to move food from the farms to food banks, compensating farmers for their products and reducing food waste at the same time. The program must continue.
As we take a deep dive into the budget, we are pleased that Governor Cuomo has also extended the farm workforce retention tax credit of $600 per employee. Its purpose was to ease the burden of climbing minimum wage rates on the fragile farm economy. New York Farm Bureau will continue to monitor budget information as it rolls out, especially considering the mounting deficit the state finds itself in this year. We urge lawmakers to be careful how they spend money. The agricultural budget is a tiny fraction of overall state spending, but farms feed all New Yorkers and are an economic engine that returns state investment exponentially. Funding reductions for research, marketing, conservation programs and the like would place even larger barriers in front of the state’s farms and food system that would prove more costly to correct down the road.
–New York Farm Bureau
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