Sowing Seeds Of Growth For Our Farmers

By Senator Patty Ritchie
“God said, ‘I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.’ So God made a farmer.”

Delivered in a 1978 speech to the Future Farmers of America, these words uttered by legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey still ring true today; describing just some of the many virtues of our hardworking farmers.

Here in New York State, agriculture is our biggest industry; generating billions of dollars annually and supporting countless jobs.  As with any business, farmers, and others in the agriculture industry experience many challenges, including burdensome red tape and numerous regulations (not to mention the weather!). As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, it’s a priority for me to support our farmers and help their industry continue to flourish.

In an effort to do just that, my Senate colleagues and I recently hosted agriculture leaders from across New York State at forum that allowed them to share their thoughts on how to cut red tape and expand their industry.

The event, which also included Senator Patrick Gallivan, Senator David Valesky and Senator Kathleen Marchione, was the second in a series of industry-specific public forums on regulatory reform organized as part of the Senate Majority Coalition’s bipartisan effort to identify and eliminate at least 1,000 of the most costly government regulations that strangle business and job growth and drive up local taxes.

More than two-dozen agriculture leaders, including many from Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties, as well as several who are members of my own Agriculture Advisory Council, attended the forum, and topics discussed included:

Ensuring farms are able to secure agricultural labor

Supporting initiatives that further the availability of improved technology

Making power costs more manageable for farmers and others in the agriculture industry

Supporting initiatives that allow local farms to capitalize of New York’s growing yogurt industry

Making New York State regulations more compatible with Federal regulations

From long hours spent working in the fields and caring for livestock to harvesting crops and keeping a watchful eye on the weather, it’s often said that a farmer’s work is never done. In an effort to support our farmers, I plan to work just as hard to provide them with the relief they need to continue to cultivate our state’s biggest industry.