Oaks: Farmer Recruitment and Retention Should Be A Priority

Legislation provides incentives for young people to enter the farming industry
April 18, 2007

Assemblyman Bob Oaks (R,C-Macedon) today voted in favor of a “motion to discharge” to move the Farmer Recruitment and Retention Act of 2007 out of committee and onto the Assembly floor for a vote. Unfortunately, the Majority voted down the motion. The bill, if enacted, would attract young adult workers to the farming industry.

“Farmers are the backbone of New York state and I am proud to support new incentives to help strengthen our commitment to the state’s rich farming tradition,” said Assemblyman Oaks. Despite losing today’s motion, Oaks said “I will continue to fight for this legislation and other measures to strengthen investment in agriculture and recruit new farmers to the industry.”

According to the USDA, between 2000 and 2006, New York lost 2,500 farms. The average age of a farm operator is 54, and in 2004, less than 1,000 students were awarded degrees in agriculture by New York state colleges.

This legislation, introduced by a Minority colleague, Assemblyman Cliff Crouch and sponsored by Assemblyman Oaks, would have provided incentives for young farmers to stay in farming and increased investment in our agriculture industry by establishing the Agriculture Producers Scholarship for any student who would study agriculture production in New York state. Lastly, the act would have created a Producer's Loan Forgiveness Program to reduce the amount of education loans for farm operators who fulfill an obligation to operate a farm on a full-time basis for at least five years in New York state.