Lupardo & Hinchey Custom Operators Bill Signed by Governor

Bill will ensure Ag district right-to-farm protections extend to custom operators

Albany – Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo signed into law (A1889/S2135) for agricultural custom operators sponsored by Agriculture Chairs, Assemblymember Donna Lupardo and Senator Michelle Hinchey. The bill will extend some agricultural district right-to-farm protections to custom operators when they are performing agricultural practices on behalf of a farm operator or owner.

Previously, agricultural custom operators might not be eligible to appeal to the Commissioner of Ag & markets for right-to-farm protections for performing the same agricultural practices as the farm owner. As a result, there was a concern that activities performed by custom operators may not be subject to sound agricultural practice determinations by the Department of Agriculture and Markets. This jeopardized the ability of the custom operator to complete the agricultural practices they had been employed to complete and the farms overall capability to function.

Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Chair, Assembly Agriculture Committee said,“Custom operators are an essential part of many farm operations, helping farmers manage costs and providing flexibility in responding to their farm’s needs. This legislation will ensure that these operators are given some of the same protections farmers enjoy. We are committed to responding to the needs of New York’s agricultural community and are happy an agreement was finally reached on this important issue.”

Senator Michelle Hinchey, Chair, Senate Agriculture Committee said, “Custom operators are a critical component of our agricultural workforce, helping farmers save time and money by performing jobs that are essential to maintaining their operations and our food security. I was proud to work with Assemblymember Lupardo this year to advance legislation that extends long-awaited protections for these workers. I’m pleased to see this important bill signed into law and to now share the news with custom operators and the thousands of farmers across New York State who rely on their invaluable services.”

David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President said, “New York Farm Bureau is pleased that the custom operators bill is now law, affording these businesses the same benefits of the agriculture district law that support farms throughout the state.The work of customoperators helps farms save both time and money performing critical jobs like harvesting crops or spreading nutrients. This new law it will help keep nuisance lawsuits at bay and allow the important work to continue across the state. New York Farm Bureau thanks Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair, Donna Lupardo, and Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, Michelle Hinchey, for their leadership as well as the support of Governor Cuomo.”

Cris Wunder, New York State Agribusiness Association President said, "The New York State Agribusiness Association (NYSABA) applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing the Custom Operators legislation that the Chairs of the Agriculture Committee, Assemblymember Donna Lupardo and Senator Michelle Hinchey, guided through the legislature this session. This legislation expands agricultural district protections to cover businesses that perform critical operations on behalf of farmers like planting or harvesting crops, spreading manure and applying fertilizers. This legislation will ensure that critical farming practices done by others in the agricultural industry can continue without interruption and will keep our farming communities strong,"