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Recently, the New York Farm Bureau held its 2013 State Annual Meeting in Syracuse where members come together to learn, interact and discuss issues important to New York agriculture.

The Farm Bureau is headed by Elba native Dean Norton. He spoke during the event about successful state and county Farm Bureau programs the last year.

One of the biggest successes was the signing of the agricultural tax cap.

“This will help control rising property taxes on all of our farms regardless of size or convention,” Norton said. “This was an issue where we had common ground and by working together we achieved great success. In all, the New York Farm Bureau ushered 20 bills to the state legislature this year, working with key leaders including Governor Cuomo…We are currently meeting with the governor’s staff and the Department of Budget to ensure that next year’s agricultural agenda is just as good as this year’s agricultural agenda.”

Another big topic of discussion was farm labor and how changing working conditions would have a significant effect on the sustainability of family farms.

The Farm Worker Labor Bill passed in the heavily Democratic state Assembly this year with the support of many downstate law makers.
It would institute overtime benefits, a mandatory day off and collective bargaining rights.

An additional key issue facing farmers this year and the next is the lack of a federal Farm Bill.

“We are facing a possible second year without a new Farm Bill in place,” Norton said. “We have been strongly advocating for immigration reform that will give our farmers a stable workforce that they need to operate and grow.”

Norton closed by saying these successes and challenges show how important membership in the Farm Bureau is.

 Here's video via the Farm Bureau of Norton's full comments.

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