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Governor must sign bill, preserve family farms

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New York’s family farms are anxiously awaiting resolution on an issue that is threatening their livelihood and a significant piece of the state’s economy.

This past June, the Legislature rightfully and unanimously passed legislation to reduce the cap on the amount of change in the base agricultural assessment value of land from 10 percent to 2 percent of the value from the preceding year. Now it is up to Gov. Cuomo’s pen.

Agriculture contributes billions to the state’s economy, and currently 23 percent of the state’s land area is used by farmers. Without a cap on the annual percent increase for agriculture assessments, many family farms will be forced to sell their land.

This will permanently alter this valuable and necessary component of New York’s economy, especially in upstate New York. Imagine the price of milk and produce if our family farms start buckling under the pressure of taxes. Envision the upstate economy without its current agri-business.

This legislation, sponsored by Sen. Patricia Ritchie and Assemblyman Bill Magee, would dramatically ease the tax burden on our family farms. New York’s economy remains stagnant, and reinvigorating the upstate economy continues to get lip service but very little action from Albany. The governor needs to understand the integral role our family farms play in New York’s present and future economy and address the threats they face.

We understand the fiscal plight our schools and communities are facing. In fact, the National Federation of Independent Business continues to push for significant and comprehensive mandate relief to ease those burdens.

But signing this legislation into law is paramount to upstate New York’s economy and will send a message to our family farms that Albany is working for them. We strongly urge the governor to sign this legislation to preserve family farming in New York and the state’s economy.

Mike Durant

Albany

The writer is state director of the national Federation of independent Business.

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