Farmers push for tax breaks in Albany

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Farmers and the agriculture industry in New York were at the Capitol on Tuesday pushing for changes to state regulations and better promotion of local products.

Senate Republicans announced an initiative Tuesday that’s backed by the state Farm Bureau that would reduce taxes and eliminate an energy tax surcharge for farmers. The plan would also put more local products in schools and government offices and increase farmers’ markets.

“Over the past two years, we have worked to restore budget cuts to vital marketing, research, and educational programs farmers depend on to strengthen their bottom line,” said Senate Agriculture Committee chairwoman Patty Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, St. Lawrence County, in a statement.

Farm Bureau President Dean Norton said the proposal, called “Grown in New York,” would lower costs for farmers and help the industry grow. The New York Farm Bureau held its annual lobby day at the Capitol on Tuesday.

“Our Grown in New York plan will dramatically strengthen New York’s critically important farming and agriculture sectors for years to come by reducing taxes on farmers and helping farmers expand their markets, boost productivity and increase their profitability,” Skelos said in a statement.

The Senate Republicans’ plan would reduce energy costs on farms by rejecting the governor’s proposal to extend the 18-a energy tax on businesses. It is set to expire this year, but Cuomo wants to extend it for another five years. Businesses said it would cost them $3 billion over the five years.

The proposal would also increase farmers’ estate tax threshold from $1 million to $5 million, establish savings accounts for young people to buy farms and promote farming education to help young farmers in the business.

“Farmers deal with countless challenges every day and initiatives that ease their financial burden while enhancing safety are vital,” said Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, Otsego County, in a statement.

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