Tague Rails Against Proposed Cuts to Agritourism Funding, Advocates for Helping Both Farmers and Food Banks

Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I-Schoharie) is vocalizing his concerns regarding proposals within the Assembly Majority’s one-house budget and the effects they will have on agriculture in New York state. As the ranking member of the Assembly Committee on agriculture, Tague fears cuts to agritourism funding could be harmful to rural communities throughout upstate New York and slow their economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I am deeply concerned with the proposal in this year’s budget to take $4 million out of agritourism funding, which is the last thing rural, upstate communities need after everything they’ve been through in the last year,” said Tague. “In the county of Schoharie alone between $25 million to $50 million within the economy is generated through agritourism and sales of agricultural products alone. To stop supporting such a vital industry to so many communities as they attempt to recover from effects of this pandemic would be nothing less than a slap in the face to rural upstate New York, and I am hopeful I can work with Chair Donna Lupardo and my respected colleagues in the Agriculture Committee to see that this critical funding is restored.”

Tague also argued that continuing to fund the Nourish New York program alone will not go far enough in addressing food insecurity in New York state, and instead proposes the passage of the “NY Food Insecurity, Farm Resiliency and Rural Poverty Act.” The measure, which Tague sponsors, would assist farmers and food banks in purchasing necessary materials and equipment for their operations, along with the logistical aspect of food distribution, and production and purchasing.

“While the proposal to make Nourish New York permanent is well-intentioned, I do not think it is wise to think we can solve the problems of food insecurity without addressing the other logistical and agricultural issues that affect the production and distribution of food in New York state,” said Tague. “As I’ve always said, with no farms, we have no food, and that’s exactly why my ‘NY Food Insecurity, Farm Resiliency and Rural Poverty Act’ is a complete and comprehensive solution to this issue that helps both farmers and food banks in their mission to keep our state fed.

“By providing grants to farms and food banks to improve their infrastructure and equipment, transport goods, and help new, disabled and veteran farmers either get their start or remain involved in agriculture, as well as providing for purchasing assistance for regional food banks to buy NY agricultural goods, this bill would address all aspects of the food security issue while providing much-needed assistance to our New York farmers and the rural communities in which they live.”