report of the standing committee on agriculture

Senator Patty Ritchie, Chair December 2013

2013 Senate Committee on Agriculture Members
Senator Patty Ritchie

Senator Patrick Gallivan Senator Thomas F. O’Mara Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer Senator James L. Seward Senator Catharine Young

Senator Terry W. Gipson (Ranking Member) Senator Velmanette Montgomery Senator José M. Serrano Senator Cecilia F. Tkaczyk Senator David J. Valesky STAFF

Theodore T. Kusnierz, Chief of Staff/Committee Director Patricia McMurray, Committee Clerk Sheila O’Sullivan, Counsel James Salamy, Legislative Director BreAnna Avery, Legislative Assistant

December 2013 Senator Dean G. Skelos Republican Conference Leader Senator Jeff Klein Independent Democratic Conference Leader The Capitol Albany, NY 12247

Dear Leaders Skelos and Klein: It is my pleasure to present the annual report of the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture detailing the activities of the Committee in 2013. As you know, agriculture is the leading industry in New York State. Our 36,000 family farms work daily to generate over $5.7 billion worth of agricultural products annually. They accomplish this by utilizing 23 percent of the state’s land area, or 7 million acres, to produce a diverse array of food products. In an effort to address a number of key agricultural issues, the Committee reported 30 bills, of which five were signed into law, and eight await action by Governor Cuomo. Highlights of the 2013 Legislative Session include approval of a 2% cap on annual increases in agricultural assessments and adoption of a budget that significantly increased funding for key agricultural programs. I wish to thank my colleagues on the Committee for their support and commitment to important agricultural issues throughout 2013, which allow our family farms to keep New York a leading agricultural state. Sincerely,

Senator Patty Ritchie Chair, Senate Agriculture Committee

2013 Annual Report of the Senate Agriculture Committee
Farming is changing. Increased consumer demand for quality, fresh, local, diverse and interesting foods is creating new opportunities for farm businesses, while rising expenses for feed, fertilizer, labor and fuel continue to add to the challenges already hardworking farmers face. New York farmers are seizing these opportunities—discovering new products and markets to satisfy consumer tastes—and rising to the challenges to keep New York’s Number One industry growing and vibrant. The State Senate Agriculture Committee is working more closely than ever with farmers and industry to remove obstacles to New York’s growing farm economy, and helping secure agriculture as a way of life in communities across our state.


• Number of family farms in New York—36,352 • Average farm size, in acres—194 • Value of farming to NY’s economy—$5.2 billion • Number of maple taps in NYS—2 million • Number of farmers markets—600 Leading NY Farm Products Dairy Apples Corn Cabbage Beans Squash
(Source: USDA Census of Agriculture)


Senate Agriculture Committee Highlights for 2013
Ritchie Renamed Chair of Agriculture Committee
In January 2013, Senator Patty Ritchie once again was named Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and, for the third year in a row, was named to the New York Farm Bureau’s “Circle of Friends.” Raised on her family’s dairy farm, and representing a largely rural district, Senator Ritchie has long been familiar with issues facing farm communities and farm families. Senator Ritchie first was elected to the Senate in 2010, and named Chair of the Agriculture Committee in 2011.

Priority One: Tax and Regulatory Relief
Recognizing that the high cost of taxes and government regulation create a stranglehold on hardworking farmers, the Senate Agriculture Committee once again raised tax and regulatory relief to the top of its legislative agenda in 2013.

2% Ag Tax Cap
A highlight was enactment of a two percent cap on annual agricultural land assessments. According to the Farm Bureau, New York farmers currently pay an average $38.41 per acre in land taxes, compared to just $12.34 nationally. And assessments were increasing as much as 10 percent every year. The tax cap, sponsored by Senator Ritchie and signed into law by the Governor, puts a stop to runaway assessments, and helps strengthen farmers’ bottom line.


Cutting red tape
The coalition steering the State Senate made a priority this year of identifying crippling government red tape that raises the cost of doing business, with a special panel of Senators named to find 1,000 outdated and unnecessary rules and regulations that could be targeted for elimination. Senator Ritchie hosted one of the panel’s very first public hearings in Watertown, focusing on agricultural regulations that should be included in the panel’s findings. An action report is due in early 2014.

Senate “Grown in New York” plan
The State Senate’s commitment to agriculture was reinforced with the introduction of the only comprehensive plan to assist farmers, and help strengthen New York’s rural economy. Backed by the New York Farm Bureau and other agriculture groups, the “Grown in New York” plan included specific legislative proposals—including legislative proposals— including lower taxes and less red tape, increased budget funding and ideas to return idled farmland—to expand markets for New York products, improve farmers’ bottom lines and invest in the future of agriculture. Many components of the plan were enacted into law.

The Senate made New York Agriculture a priority for legislative action in 2013


A commitment to NY farmers
The state budget is another key indicator of government’s commitment to agriculture and, for the third year in a row, Senator Ritchie and the Senate Agriculture Committee led the effort to stop funding cuts and support key programs that help strengthen farming Senator Patty Ritchie helps and agriculture through celebrate first fruits of this year's bumper apple crop. For the third marketing, research and education. For the first year, the Agriculture Committee stopped cuts in funding for marketing of time in a number of years, apples and other farm products. the budget included actual increases in funding from the prior year. Examples of this funding includes support for programs aimed at improved animal health, research groups like the Farm Viability Institute, marketing assistance for apple, maple, berry and turf growers, among others. The budget also included funding to help farmers take advantage of new opportunities in the growing craft brewing, wine-making and distilling segments of the agriculture economy. Recent legislation seeks to tear down barriers to growth in this industry.

Keeping it local
Major new legislation to promote use of government’s buying power to boost local farms was approved by both houses of the Legislature. The Senator Ritchie-sponsored “Food Metrics” bill encourages state agencies, including prisons, colleges and hospitals, to use local sources for fresh products like dairy, vegetables and meats both to improve nutritional value of their meals and support local farmers. The bill was a top priority of American Farmland Trust.


Protecting pets—and people
Responding to a growing incidence of wildlife rabies, and in the wake of budget cuts by some local governments, Senator Ritchie and the Senate Agriculture Committee led the effort to restore state budget funding for Senator Ritchie met with members rabies treatment and of her local Agriculture Advisory Council. Comprising farmers and ag prevention programs. Funding included support experts, the Council provides insight into current farm issues. for Cornell’s wildlife baiting program and, in Central and Northern New York, to provide six rabies clinics that inoculated more than 1,000 family pets to help prevent spread of the disease which, while rare, is always fatal in humans. Some communities of the state are seeing the highest rates of wildlife rabies in several years. The State Budget also included funding to continue efforts to reduce the risk to humans from Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a serious disease that’s spread by infected mosquitoes, and has killed five Central New Yorkers over the past three decades. Funding included in the Agriculture budget provided additional assistance to local mosquito control efforts in infected counties, educational initiatives and reduced cost vaccines for horses.


Listening to farmers
Senator Ritchie continued her efforts to recruit working farmers as experts in identifying opportunities to grow and strengthen agriculture in New York by hosting forums in three counties she represents—Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence—with members of her Agriculture Advisory Council. Ideas raised in these discussions have become the foundation for a number of pieces of legislation considered by the Agriculture Committee.


Legislation Considered by the Committee
The New York State Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture held six committee meetings during the 2013 Legislative Session to consider 99 bills which were referred to the committee. The committee acted on 38 bills, by “reporting” them to the Senate floor or to the next committee of jurisdiction. Of that total, 30 passed the Senate, five were signed into law, and eight bills await action by the Governor (as of December 1st). The Senate Agriculture Committee continues to focus on measures that will reduce regulations and cut red tape in an effort to allow farmers to grow and expand markets, while lowering the cost of doing business for producers and agricultural professionals in New York. The following pages include the dates, times and locations of the committee meetings which were held this year. In addition, each bill is listed with the name(s) of its prime sponsor(s), a brief description and legislative action during the 2013 session. Tuesday, February 12, 2013, at 9:00 AM, Room 411 LOB S.583-D (Gallivan, Avella, Ball, Gipson, Grisanti, Maziarz, Ranzenhofer) – prohibits people who are convicted of animal cruelty from working in positions that place them in direct control of animal care. (Passed Senate) S.1952 (Ritchie, Avella, Bonacic, DeFrancisco, Gallivan, Gipson, Griffo, Marchione, Maziarz, O’Brien, O’Mara, Ranzenhofer, Seward, Valesky, Young)/A.165 (Magee) – amends the agriculture and markets law in relation to agricultural assessments by reducing the cap on the amount of change that may occur in the value of the base agricultural assessment value from ten percent to two percent of the value of the preceding year. (Chapter 385, L. 2013)
S.1980 (Carlucci, Gallivan, Gipson)/A.1959 (Magee) – creates a regulatory mechanism

so that home wine making centers can be established in New York, just as they have been established in many other wine producing states such as California, Washington, and Oregon. This will facilitate the ability of home wine makers to pool their resources and share equipment and storage facilities to produce quality wine for home consumption as is currently allowed for under federal regulations.
(Passed Senate)

S.2146 (Valesky, Avella, Gallivan, Gipson, Kennedy, Marchione, Maziarz, Montgomery)/A.2702 (Magee) – establishes the Dine: Pride of New York program for restaurants using and serving New York state produced foods and food products. (Passed Both Houses)


S.2152 (Valesky, Gallivan, Grisanti, Maziarz)/A.2701 (Magee) – creates the Strategic Farm and Food Product Development Coordinating Council to further promote the use of New York grown products. (Passed Both Houses) Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at 9:00 AM, Room 411 LOB S.2147 (Valesky, Gallivan, Maziarz)/A.728 Rosenthal – authorizes and directs the Commissioners of Agriculture and Markets and Economic Development to assess New York State’s capacity for regional food production and develop strategies for increasing the output and integration of localized food production. (Vetoed, Veto Memo 234, 2013) S.2372 (Klein, Grisanti, Hassell-Thompson, Montgomery, Savino)/A.3743 (Cook) – expands the powers and duties of the Office of Community Gardens within the Department of Agriculture and Markets. (Passed Both Houses) S.2677 (Young, O’Mara, Ranzenhofer)/A.5742(Magee) – clarifies that the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets and the NYS Soil & Water Conservation Committee shall be the authorities that establish the need for technical expertise on farm environmental and conservation best management practices. (Passed Senate) S.3693 (Ritchie, Valesky)/A.166 (Magee) – clarifies that silvopasturing* acreage in forested land qualifies as eligible lands for agriculture assessment. (Passed Senate) *Silvopasturing is the scientifically-based, ecologically-sound practice of livestock grazing in wooded areas which can yield numerous benefits for farm operations. Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at 9:00 AM, Room 411 LOB S.1361 (Little, Bonacic, Marchione, Ritchie) – eases burdensome contracting requirements currently in place, to gain permission from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to harvest timber on state lands. (Passed Senate) S.1649 (LaValle, Golden, Ranzenhofer, Savino)/A.4885 (Ortiz) – requires manufacturers and distributors of dietary and nutritional supplements to clearly indicate on their packaging whether the product has been tested by the FDA. (Committed to Rules) S.2305-A (Ball, Addabbo, Carlucci, Golden, Grisanti, Lanza)/A.4516-A (Tedisco) – requires each violator of “Buster’s Law” to register his or her name and address with the division of criminal justice services. (Passed Senate)


S.2438 (Klein, Grisanti, Hassell-Thompson, Kennedy, Valesky)/A.6628 (Ortiz) – establishes provisions to combat the incidence of adult and childhood obesity; provides for direct marketing of fresh vegetables and fruits in areas with a high incidence of adult and child obesity; directs Cornell Cooperative Extension Program to offer obesity and respiratory disease prevention programs. (Passed Both Houses) Tuesday, April 23, 2013, at 9:00 AM, Room 411 LOB S.2332 (Klein, Ball, Gipson, Grisanti, Hassell-Thompson, Marchione, Parker, Ritchie)/A.5218 (Ortiz) – establishes a voluntary program to assist and facilitate the ability of schools districts and institutions of higher learning to donate excess unused food from their school meal programs to voluntary food assistance programs for the poor and disadvantaged. (Passed Senate) S.2621 (Young, Gallivan, Ranzenhofer)/A.1487 (Gunther) – removes farm pond dams from required monitoring by the DEC and gives the responsibility to the state soil and water conservation committee for development of guidelines and best management practices for the classification, operation and maintenance of farm pond dams. (Committed to Rules) S.2798 (Ball)/A.6805 (Sweeney) – removes duplicative reporting requirements and provides cost savings while reducing the workload on cervid* farmers and the Department of Environmental Conservation. (Committed to Rules) *The Cervidae family includes white-tailed deer, mule deer (such as black-tailed deer), elk, moose, red deer, reindeer (caribou), fallow deer, roe deer and chital. S.3537-D (Grisanti, Avella, Boyle, Espaillat, Gipson, Hoylman, Serrano)/A.1657E (Rosenthal) – requires the establishment and implementation of a training program for dog control officers. (Passed Both Houses) S.4299-A (Ritchie, Gipson)/A.7555 (Magee) – adds Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) to the list of entities eligible for participating in farmland protection implementation activities funded through the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Program (AFPP) and authorizes SWCDs to cooperate with municipalities through inter-municipal agreements. (Chapter 150, L. 2013) S.4302-A (Ritchie, Grisanti, Marchione)/A.7759 (Santabarbara) – streamlines the license process for chain store food processors. (Chapter 260, L. 2013)


Tuesday, April 30, 2013, at 9:00 AM, Room 411 LOB S.2049-B (Young)/A.6804 (Magee) – prohibits the filling, emptying or use of any liquefied petroleum gas container, except by the owner or by a person authorized in writing by the owner. (Passed Senate) S.2560-A (Ball, Addabbo, Grisanti, Ranzenhofer) – expands the definition of aggravated cruelty to animals to include harm to animals during the commission of a felony. (Passed Senate) S.2566 (Ball, Adabbo)/A.4514 (Tedisco) – prohibits a person convicted of violating “Buster’s Law” from owning or possessing a companion animal. (Committed to Rules) S.2774-A (Carlucci, Avella, Kennedy, Ritchie, Valeksy)/A.3802 (Magee) – establishes the Shop: Pride of New York program for food sellers who sell foods produced in New York state. (Passed Both Houses) S.3753-A (Grisanti, Addabbo, Avella, Ball, Breslin, Dilan, Espaillat, Golden, HassellThompson, Hoylman, Krueger, Lavalle, Montgomery, Ritchie, Robach, Savino, Serrano, Squadron)/A.740-A (Rosenthal) – allows municipalities to regulate pet dealers as long as the law, rule, regulation, or ordinance is not less stringent than state law. (Passed Both Houses) S.3955-A (Griasnti, Ritchie)/A.1205-A (Paulin) – protects dogs and cats from abusive treatment by pet dealers by requiring that administrative hearings be held to determine whether a pet dealer license should be suspended or revoked after a certain pattern of failed inspections has occurred. (Chapter 256, L. 2013)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013, at 9:00 AM, Room 411 LOB S.2192 (Young, Bonacic, DeFrancisco, Gipson, Ranzenhofer) – allows the Departments of Agriculture and Markets and Transportation to investigate and resolve any unreasonable barriers to milk transportation in New York City and Long Island. (Passed Senate) S.3723-B (Flanagan, Ritchie)/A.5114-B (Paulin) – educates consumers about their rights concerning the source and location of a pet, name of broker, and veterinary treatments received, to deter violations, and extends the animal lemon law. (Chapter 251, L. 3013)


S.4260 (Ritchie, Farley, Gallivan, Gipson, Grisanti, Larkin, LaValle, Libous, Little, Marchione, Martins, Maziarz, O’Mara, Ranzenhofer, Seward, Valesky, Young)/A.6024 (Magee) – reduces farm-based taxes, fees, and regulatory burdens imposed on our state’s farms to allow the state’s vital agricultural economy to grow and to benefit family farms in New York State. (Committed to Finance) S.4332 (Young, Gipson, O’Mara, Ritchie, Valesky)/A.7063 (Magee) – at the request of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources – enhances a farmer’s ability to market farm, food and other products directly to consumers through encouragement of the development of retail farm operations such as roadside stands and on-farm markets. (Passed Senate) S.4382 (Lanza, Avella)/A.129 (Cusick) – directs the Department of Agriculture and Markets to inspect the condition of certain horse stalls in New York City. (Committed to Finance) S.4793 (Bonacic, Gipson) – directs the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets to include pickling within the purview of the “Home Processor” exemption regarding food processor licensing requirements. (Committed to Finance) S.4939 (Nozzolio) – authorizes a family member operating a family farm to build a home on the operating farm property, not to supersede existing municipal law. (Committed to Finance) Agriculture Bills Acted on By Rules Committee S.1484-B (Marcellino) – increases the maximum fine for the misdemeanor of abandonment of animals to $2,000. (Passed Senate) S.2665-B (Ball, Avella, Espaillat, Hoylman)/A.5113-A (Paulin) – authorizes a District Attorney, on behalf of an impounding organization, to file a petition seeking a security for the reasonable costs for caring for seized animals from individuals convicted of certain animal cruelty and animal fighting offenses. (Passed Both Houses) S.2688 (Young, O’Mara)/A.7851 (Lupardo) – provides that dogs engaged in hunting and training as authorized under Environmental Conservation Law, shall not be deemed to be running at large in violation of any local law or ordinance. (Passed Senate) S.4331 (Young, O’Mara, Ritchie, Valesky)/A.7008 (Gabryszak) – at the request of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources – increases from 50 to 100 acres, the acreage of farm woodland that qualifies as land used in agricultural production for agricultural assessment purposes. (Passed Senate)


S.4904 (Maziarz, Sampson)/A.7861 (Gabryszak) – requires notification to the owners and/or operators of a farm operation when information about their farm operation has been requested via the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) from a state agency or entity. (Passed Senate) S.5552-A (Valesky, Ritchie)/A.7572 (Magee) – increases the amount of New York State local food products purchased by New York State agencies, and provides procurement training to agricultural businesses. (Passed Senate)


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