Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey (R,I,C-Peru) today announced that she is working hard to retain North Country farms. “Agriculture and family farms are the backbone of our economy and a staple of the North Country that none of us want to see disappear. I am strongly supporting measures in Albany that will help retain area farms, and will help farm families grow and prosper,” said Duprey.
“I have talked directly to generations of farm families in the district, including young farmers and 4-H clubs, to discover ways to increase interest in agriculture and assist young farmers who are just starting out. The New York Farmer Recruitment and Retention Act of 2007 is the finalization of those talks and ideas,” Duprey said.
Duprey voted in favor of the legislation, but the Assembly Majority voted down a measure to advance the bill by a vote of 82 to 52. “Family farms are vital to the North Country. This legislation would make it easier for retiring farmers to pass their operations on to the next generation and keep the family farm. Generations of family farms, in the midst of the dairy crisis and rising day-to-day costs, are simply being ignored due to Albany’s political bickering,” Duprey said.
“We cannot deny that the North Country’s farming community is aging, and it has become increasingly difficult to attract young people to farming and encourage younger generations to take over family farms,” Duprey said. According to USDA data, New York lost 2,500 farms between 2000 and 2006. “That is why I am supporting the creation of an Agriculture Scholarship and Loan Forgiveness Program for full-time farmers, as well as the creation of incentives for young people to enter the profession,” Duprey noted.
Specifically, the measure Duprey supports would:
- Direct the Board of Regents and State Education Department (SED) to investigate and study undergraduate agricultural programs with the goal of identifying programs which encourage entry into agricultural production;
- Establish agriculture production scholarships for students who agree to be agriculture producers in the state for five years after graduation;
- Establish the Producer’s Loan Forgiveness Program;
- Direct the Board of Regents and SED to establish and implement an outreach program to encourage elementary and secondary school students to enter the agricultural field;
- Direct the commissioner of Agriculture and Markets to report to the governor and the Legislature on reducing taxation on land used in agricultural production; and
- Appropriate funds of approximately $1.5 million.