Governor can help ease the tax burden on family farms

From today’s Albany Times Union

New York’s family farms are anxiously awaiting resolution on an issue that is threatening their livelihood and a significant piece of the state’s economy. This past June, the Legislature rightfully and unanimously passed legislation that ensures the assessed value of agricultural land can increase no more than 2 percent in any given year.

Now it is up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s pen.

Agriculture contributes billions to the state’s economy and currently 23 percent of the state’s land area is used by farmers. Without a cap on the annual percent increase for agriculture assessments, many family farms will be forced to sell their land, permanently altering this valuable and necessary component of New York’s economy, especially in upstate. Imagine the prices for milk or produce if our family farms buckle under the pressure of taxes. Envision the upstate economy without agribusiness.

This legislation, sponsored by Sen. Patricia Ritchie and Assemblyman Bill Magee, would the tax burden on our family farms. The cap had been 10 percent.

New York’s economy remains stagnant and reinvigorating the upstate economy continues to get lip service but little action from Albany. The governor needs to understand the integral role our family farms play in New York’s present and future economy and address the threats they face. We understand the fiscal plight our schools and communities are facing. In fact, the National Federation of Independent Business continues to push for significant and comprehensive mandate relief to ease those burdens. Signing this legislation into law is paramount to upstate’s economy and will send a message to our family farms that Albany is working for them.

We strongly urge the governor to sign this legislation to preserve family farming in New York and the state’s economy.

Durant is the state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

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About Mike Durant

Mike Durant was named New York State Director of NFIB in May 2011. Prior to joining NFIB as the Assistant State Director in May 2010, Durant began his career in the New York Senate working in the Office of Member Services. From there, he served in a number of positions during former New York Governor George E. Pataki’s administration. As a Research Specialist in the New York State Office of Demographic Policy, Mike was responsible for drafting a redistricting proposal for Governor Pataki. In addition, Mike served as a Research Specialist for the Empire State Development Corporation, as well as the Associate Commissioner of Human Resource Management with the New York Department of Labor. Durant also spent four years working at the Questar III BOCES as a specialist focusing on the complex formulas that drive aid to school districts across the state while also taking a lead role in the state legislative/budget process as it related to education policy. These past positions have given Mike a deep understanding of the complex political economics of the State of New York. Active in the community, Durant has served on a number of boards in both the village of Ballston Spa and Town of Milton. Durant received his bachelor’s degree from Siena College in Loudonville, New York and resides in Ballston Spa with his wife and two children.
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