Lopez: Continuing The Fight For Upstate Farmers

June 1, 2007
Continuing his fight to support New York agriculture, Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R,C,I – Schoharie) has announced progress on two pieces of legislation he’s helped sponsor, which aim to reduce financial and regulatory pressures on farmers.

“Fighting for our farm families is my top priority, and I will not stop that fight,” said Lopez. “These bills will help alleviate some of the burden they continue to face by reducing current operating costs and preventing future increases.”

The first bill, (Assembly bill A-6866, Senate bill S-3253-A) which has passed the Assembly and Senate, will ensure that agricultural assessment value increases will not exceed 10% of the base assessment from the previous year. This year, New York farmers have been presented an increase of approximately 30% over the 2005 levels, despite higher energy costs and depressed prices for milk and other agricultural products. This bill will prevent such assessment hikes from occurring.

Recently the Department of State issued new regulations requiring that all non-residential buildings be inspected for compliance with certain aspects of the various New York building codes, particularly the Property Maintenance Code of New York State and the Fire Code of New York State. These codes are designed to ensure upkeep of certain types of buildings, such as commercial office spaces, which are very different from dairy barns. The second bill sponsored by Lopez (Assembly bill A-4367, Senate bill S-3022) will exempt agricultural buildings from these codes. Agricultural buildings are already exempt from the Building Code of New York State, and this legislation would extend that exemption to prevent unnecessary regulation on farmers.

“Farmers are already facing increased costs and low prices,” Lopez stated. “These unnecessary regulations burden the agricultural industry – a burden that they cannot afford.”