Aug 20, 2015
Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-Columbia, Dutchess) announced legislation she authored that ensures aging farmers have the support they need to continue their businesses has been signed into law.
Specifically, the bill would require the state to evaluate their support of farmers age 60 and older (Ch. 155 of 2015).
“From dairy farms and apple orchards to fields of grain, New York farmlands continue to play a major part in the state’s economy that we simply cannot ignore,” Assemblymember Didi Barrett said. “As our farmers age, they face challenges that threaten production. This legislation grants the necessary operational support ensuring the continued health of our agriculture industry.”
The measure would require the Department of Agriculture and Markets, in conjunction with the State Office for the Aging, to evaluate programs and services to ensure proper support for our farmers and workers in agriculture-related enterprises, such as production, processing, marketing and distribution of food, and would lower the support age from 62 to 60.
"At HVADC we’ve seen a significant increase in the demand for these kinds of services and continue to be approached by a number of aging farmers who are concerned about the future of their businesses. This bill is a critical component to taking care of our existing farmers and successfully transitioning New York State and Hudson Valley farmers to the next generation," said Todd Erling, Executive Director for Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corp.
"The average age for New York's farmers is 57 and climbing which underscores the value of this new law. It is necessary for the State to understand the needs and evaluate appropriate resources for this aging population. New York Farm Bureau thanks Assemblywoman Barrett for her attention to important issues facing agriculture and our rural economy," said Jeff Williams, Director of Public Policy for New York Farm Bureau.
Assemblymember Didi Barrett also fought for measures to help promote local agriculture and food production, including legislation that creates a tax credit for farm vehicles transporting goods on the Thruway to markets as well as legislation that encourages local municipalities to prioritize, identify, protect and transfer prime farmland to a new generation of farmers (A.2414 and A.2369). These bills have successfully passed the legislature and now await the Governor’s signature into law.
Additionally, Barrett helped secure $20 million in this year’s state budget to protect farmland in the Hudson Valley, as well as funding to help grow programs like Taste of NY, Beginning Farmers NY Fund, Farm-to-School grant and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.