Kolb - Leading Agriculture into the 21st Century

September 24, 2007

Global position satellites, aerial imagery, future planning, high tech machinery, and scientific research and accuracy – believe it or not those are just some of the tools in today’s agriculture in Central New York and the Finger Lakes.

Agriculture continues to be the driving force of the Central New York and Finger Lakes economic engine and once again I am honored to be recognized as a friend of agriculture. Each year since first being elected, I have received the New York State Farm Bureau’s “Circle of Friends” award, which is given to legislators recognized for their support of New York’s farmers and the agricultural industry.

Farming has come a long way from the days of the horse-drawn plow. Today the agricultural industry consists of dozens of farms, high-tech agricultural research centers and area vineyards that provide thousands of jobs and bring many tourists to our region.

The agricultural industry has grown to become the largest industry in our state and on the cutting edge of technology. Locally, Senator Michael Nozzolio and I worked together to bring the Agriculture & Food Technology Park to Geneva. The 72-acre research and development park, is home to the Technology Farm, which is advancing technology to spur agriculture, food science and bio-based industrial companies for the benefit of not only agriculture, but all New York State residents.

In the 129th Assembly District we have three of the best agriculturally-based tourism attractions in New York State: the Canandaigua, Cayuga and Seneca wine trails. These trails are a gateway to our community, which enhance the visibility of the wine industry and provide visitors with an unparalleled experience that is unique to our region. As a legislator, I have worked to enhance the visibility of the wine industry by securing state grants and through initiatives like the one that created the New York State Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua. In the last two years, I supported and saw passage of legislation to ease restrictions regarding the shipment of New York wine, yielding excellent results, by expanding the market for New York wine makers.

These are just a couple examples of what has been done to help the agricultural industry. Most farming operations are typically very low-margin, making it vulnerable to the volatile prices of fuel and feed, as well as high property taxes. As a legislator, it is important to do all that is possible to help farmers by easing the burden of property taxes and implementing other reforms that help to ease the strain on low-margin operations.

I take great pride in working with my legislative colleagues to support agriculture and advance legislation to help promote this important industry. We work to provide tax relief, regulation changes and assistance to help our farming community remain viable and grow. For instance, in 2006 dairy farmers across this state suffered from a number of factors such as very high fuel, feed, energy, fertilizer and other operating costs. As a result many farmers incurred unprecedented losses, forcing many to leave the business. To help alleviate the burden, my legislative colleagues and I created a $30 million dairy subsidy to help dairy farmers stay financially viable. This program was able to help thousands of dairy farmers – many of which are family owned operations.