Under a bill (A.6465-A) sponsored by Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee (D-Nelson), those who operate all terrain vehicles on a farm operation without the consent of the owner will face larger penalties.
"Our farmers’ entire life is based on the crops, produce and other goods they spend hours and hours every day planting, tilling and growing," Magee said. "To the extent that there are those who choose to damage that work by running their ATVs roughshod over the fields of our farmers, this bill rightly penalizes them."
Currently, the illegal operation of an ATV can carry a fine of up to $250 but under this bill those who continue to drive ATVs on agricultural lands that have been clearly posted as "no trespassing" and without the permission of the land owner can face a fine of up to $500 and be imprisoned for ninety days.
"While I firmly believe that the vast majority of ATV owners are responsible and conscientious there are, unfortunately, those renegade few who choose to disregard the law and operate these vehicles on farmers fields and lands without regard for the farmers crops or animals," Magee commented. "To be clear, that is who this bill is targeting."
Among the damage that can be caused by the illegal repeated use of ATVs on farmlands are severe soil erosion as these vehicles dig up ground and create large ruts in farm access roads and natural water drainage areas. Likewise, erosion and rutted access roads in turn can cause significant damage to farm equipment, damage to crops and lead to further soil erosion. In addition to the physical dangers and economic damages imposed on growers due to the improper use of ATVs on farmlands, there are also dangers posed to ATV operators.
"This bill just makes sense as it recognizes the fact that our farmers invest thousands of dollars in their fields, pastures and cropland and those who willingly ignore posted signs and destroy this investment should be held to a higher degree of accountability," Magee concluded.
The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Senator William Larkin and was supported by the New York Farm Bureau and the Adirondack Council.