Friday, January 23, 2015

Ag Budget Shows Gains, Reductions

Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his budget presentation Wednesday.


Alcoholic beverage tax exemption. Extend the wine tasting sales and use tax exemption to other alcoholic beverages. Currently, wine tastings are exempt from the sales tax. The budget extends this exemption to include beer, cider and liquor. The beer, wine and spirits industry has created nearly 1,600 jobs since mid-2011.

Diesel fuel business tax refund. Allow petroleum business tax refunds for farm use of highway diesel motor fuel. Farmers who purchase taxable highway diesel fuel will be able to request a refund for the portion used for farm use. This will relieve farmers of the need to maintain separate tanks for taxable and non-taxable diesel fuel.

Fees will be repealed in the Department of Agriculture and Markets, saving New Yorkers $40,000 annually beginning in 2015. They are:
** Commercial Feed License Fee. This $100 license fee is collected from manufacturers of commercial feed on an annual basis.
** Farm Product Dealer’s License Fee. This $20 license fee is collected annually from farm product dealers.
** Food Salvage Fee. This $100 license fee is collected from Food Salvage Dealers every two years.
** Liming Brands License Fee. This $20 license fee is collected from suppliers of liming materials every two years.
** Refrigerated Warehouse Fee. This $200 license fee is collected from refrigerated warehouses every two years.
** Rendering Plants Fee. This license fee is collected from operators of disposal plants on an annual basis. The annual license fee for disposal plants is $100, plus an inspection fee of $10 for each vehicle. The annual license fee for transportation services is $25, plus an inspection fee of $10 for each vehicle.
** Rendering Transportation Fee. This license fee is collected from rendering (i.e. animal remains) transportation facilities on an annual basis. The fee amount is $25
per service and $10 per vehicle.
** Seed Potato Inspection Fee. This regulatory fee of $34 is collected annually for the inspection of both seed potato plants and seed potato tubers for the NY Seed Improvement Project.
** Soil and Plant Inoculants Fee. This $40 license fee is collected every two years for the purpose of selling product brands which contain microorganisms for inoculation purposes.
** Farm Grower Permit Fee. This is a $40 fee charged to agriculture growers who apply for a one-year permit which allows the grower to employ more than five non-H2A migrant farm workers.
** Farm Labor Contractor Permit Fee. This is a $200 fee charged to farm labor contractors that apply for a one year permit to transport and provide non-H2A
migrant farm workers to a grower.

Broadband Internet. A $500 million New NY Broadband Fund is established to significantly expand the availability and capacity of broadband across the state. This program will build on the Connect NY Broadband Program and expand the creation of ultra-high-speed network and promote broadband adoption through a multi-pronged approach. This is important to farmers because many rural areas do not have broadband Internet capabilities.

Southern Tier and Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program. A total of $50 million from the Special Infrastructure Account will assist farmers and other related businesses in the Southern Tier ($30 million) and Hudson Valley ($20 million) with maintaining and growing their businesses. Money would be used for strategic farming initiatives, including preservation of farmland, to ensure farms in the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley remain intact and vibrant for generations to come.

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. The college would receive an additional $19 million multi-year investment to expand and upgrade infrastructure and teaching facilities at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine to accommodate larger class sizes.

Department of Agriculture and Markets: Total funding for Ag and Markets is decreased by $12 million, primarily due to the discontinuation of one-time local assistance program funds ($6.9 million) and the completion of capital spending.

State Fair Revitalization. In addition to capital funding and other sources, the state fairgrounds in Geddes west of Syracuse will receive $50 million from the Special
Infrastructure Account to improve the experience for visitors by making enhancements at the fairgrounds and in the surrounding area.

Expand Access to New York Grown Agricultural Products. The budget include $1.1 million for the “Taste NY” program. This program is branding and expanding New York’s food and beverage industry by making the wide variety of foods and beverages grown and produced in the state readily available and recognizable to New Yorkers and the public nationwide. Taste NY products are available in more than 25 retail locations statewide, and more than 5.9 million people in 2014 attended the 55 events at which Taste NY participated.

FreshConnect farmers’ market program. The budget includes $350,000 for the FreshConnect farmers’ market program, which benefits farmers and consumers alike by awarding competitive grants to create and expand farmers’ markets in underserved communities throughout New York.

Hops. To increase the availability of locally grown hops for the state’s growing craft brew industry, the budget continues $40,000 for a program to evaluate and
test hop varieties in New York.

Commission to Study Protecting Dairy Farmer Profits. The state will create a commission to evaluate dairy prices and programs that would help maintain dairy farm profitability, including options to encourage dairy farmer participation in a Federal Margin Protection Program. The federal government recently unveiled a program to address the pricing hazards dairy farms face, and offers protection against losses due to declining milk prices. The commission, chaired by the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture & Markets (now Richard Ball), will develop recommendations intended to encourage farmers to purchase this coverage protection offered through the USDA. The commission will submit its recommendations to the governor by May 1.

Maintain Core Agriculture and Markets Local Assistance Funding. Funding for core agricultural programs that protect health and safety, provide education, and support the promotion of New York state products will continue, Cuomo said. But as in past years, he has cut funding to some programs and eliminated funding for other programs.

Here is a list of some of the state ag programs and how much Cuomo has put into the budget for them:

Northern New York Agricultural Development -- $0, down from $600,000 in the 2014-15 enacted budget
Wine and Grape Foundation -- $713,000, down from $1 million in 2014-15 enacted budget
Local fairs -- $340,000, down from $500,000
New York Apple Growers -- $206,000, down from $750,000
Maple Producers Association -- $0, down from $150,000
North Country Low Cost Vaccines -- $0, down from $25,000
Farm Viability Institute -- $400,000, down from $1.5 million
New York Christmas Tree Farmers -- $0, down from $120,000
Agricultural Child Care (migrant) -- $6.521 million, down from $7.521 million
Dairy Profit Teams -- $150,000, same as last year
Dairy Profit Teams through the Farm Viability Institute -- $0, down from $220,000
Cornell’s Pro-Dairy -- $822,000, the same as last year
Berry Growers Association -- $0, down from $320,000
Ag in the Classroom -- $80,000, same as last year.
FFA -- $192,000, down from $350,000
Tractor rollover protection -- $0, down from $150,000

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