A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
It was recently reported that agricultural receipts in New York came in at $6.36 billion in 2014, a $1.7 billion increase over 2010 and a $667 million increase over 2013.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Services, New York is home to 36,000 farms and roughly 7 million acres are dedicated to farming.
Our agriculture industry is not only profitable but it is incredibly diverse.
Our climate and landscapes along lakesides, rivers, hills, and valleys allow farmers to specialize in crops that range from fruit to dairy.
Few states can boast the array of agricultural products that New York offers.
The locavore movement has buoyed sales of crops like fruits, vegetables, craft beer, wine, honey, eggs, poultry and dairy products.
Amid a global marketplace, many consumers are increasingly seeking homegrown produce and products made with homegrown ingredients.
High milk prices and associated commodity costs also contributed to the increases.
From 2010 to 2014, agricultural receipts in New York grew 36% outpacing the national average growth of 32%.
Some of the highlights of the latest United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Services Farm Income and Wealth Statistic’s report included poultry and eggs.
Cash receipts for these products increased by 63% to $206 million since 2010.
Peaches saw an 80% increase of $12.6 million and honey is up 59% with cash receipts reported at just under $9 million.
Cattle receipts were up 132% to $415 million.
Farmers, growers, and producers need policies that support them in the competitive marketplace in order to stay in business and market their products to consumers.
Efforts like Taste NY and Pride of New York help to link local producers and growers with consumers.
These are good efforts and help some local farmers and producers to brand their products and market them to consumers.
More recently, New York has enacted several laws that encourage the growth of craft breweries in the state.
These laws, among other things, provide tax credits to small breweries and allow farm breweries to open restaurants and conduct tastings of NYS labeled beer.
These new laws also supports hops growers, a key beer ingredient, by requiring that New York state labeled beer contain locally-grown hops and other ingredients.
These changes are encouraging more craft brewers and locally-grown hops.
Since the enactment of these new laws, the number of craft breweries has grown from 95 in 2012 to 207 in 2014, according to the New York State Brewer’s Association.
As an outgrowth of this industry, it was recently announced that Sunoco in Volney was awarded a $700,000 New York State Regional Economic Development Grant to build a new barley malting facility that will make it the largest malting facility in the Northeast.
The $9.1 million facility will have the ability to produce about 2,000 tons of malt annually.
This will be good not just for the immediate area which will benefit from construction jobs and full-time employment but for the growing NYS craft beer industry which will be the consumers of the malted barley produced at the facility.
Sunoco plans to have the facility up and running by the fall of 2016.
I supported the application for the grant and I am pleased to learn they received the grant dollars.
Agriculture has a strong multiplier effect.
According to economist at Cornell, for every dollar spent on agriculture output, an additional 43 cents is generated for non-agriculture industries.
I’m pleased to see our farmers being supported but there is still more we can do to make them more competitive in the marketplace.
As with all small businesses, farmers struggle with the high cost of doing business in NYS.
We need to continue to lower taxes and fees and reduce regulations that are adversely affecting farmers.
We should use the craft beer industry as an example on how to better support business and incentivize investments in this state.
If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other state issue, please contact me.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.
You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.