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October 23, 2013

New York caps farm assessments

PLATTSBURGH — The state of New York now has a cap of 2 percent per year on agricultural-land assessment increases.

The measure, passed unanimously by the State Legislature, was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday.

‘ECONOMIC DRIVER’

Michael Parker of the Parker Family Maple Farm said the cap is good news, as the assessment on their approximately 1,000 acres in West Chazy has increased about 50 percent in the last decade.

“That would help us retain ownership of our property and keep the price of the food we grow low,” he said.

And it also helps agriculturally based businesses in New York be competitive with those in neighboring states, where the property-tax burden is less. 

“Agriculture is a very important economic driver in the North Country. We need to help these farmers,” Parker said.

PARED FROM 10 PERCENT

According to the Governor’s Office, the base assessment for agricultural lands has nearly doubled in the last seven years. 

That, coupled with increases in municipal and school taxes, has created a difficult business climate for many farmers.

Prior to the new legislation, the annual increase in agricultural property assessments could be up to 10 percent. That left New York farmers facing the second-highest property tax burden in the country, at nearly three times the national average.

CHANGING REPUTATION

Cuomo said the new law will help ensure that agricultural lands remain in the hands of hardworking families for generations to come.

“Protecting our farmers from unsustainable tax hikes is part of our work to change our state’s reputation as the tax capital of the nation by controlling spending while reducing the tax burden on New Yorkers,” Cuomo said in a press release.

“Agriculture is big business in New York, and our state government is committed to doing everything we can to help this vital industry thrive and continue to create jobs and economic prosperity, particularly upstate.”

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