Thursday, January 14, 2016

Agriculture Topics Addressed in State of the State Speech

Some of what Gov. Andrew Cuomo said about agriculture in Wednesday's State of the State address:

"This year I propose our most ambitious entrepreneurial partnerships that we are excited about.

The first deals with agriculture and food. As you know, agriculture is a critical part of our economy. As you also know, there is a growing health concern among consumers about the food we eat -- what is in it and how it was grown. There is a burgeoning market for safe, healthy food. 

However, consumer confidence is lacking. Many of the labels that are on those products are virtually meaningless and they have no standard and they have no legal definition. Labels like “all natural” or “no antibiotics” actually have no legal definition. Much of our quote-unquote organic produce comes from overseas. So consumer skepticism is justified. To reassure and inform consumers – and provide an opportunity for New York farms – we will initiate the first program to certify the bona fides of natural products.

The Departments of Health and Agriculture will define what are now vague standards and conduct inspections to certify those standards are being met. Labels like “all natural” will mean something. “No pesticides” will mean something. “Hormone free” will actually mean something. The Attorney General will police the program so consumers will know when they buy that product, they are getting exactly what that product says it is.

We are going to call it the 'NY Certified High Quality' program. It will be voluntary for our farmers to participate but we will advertise this program and its products nation-wide and we think there is a significant marketing asset for the farms that participate. It’s an exciting opportunity. It can help grow our farms. Better products for our consumers. It’s exactly what we need. Let’s take a moment and say thanks to Commissioner Ball, Dr. Zucker and Attorney General Schneiderman."

Cuomo also reiterated his push for a $15 an hour minimum wage, although this move is opposed by some in agriculture, including the New York Farm Bureau.

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