Press-Republican

October 23, 2013

New York caps farm assessments

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

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.”

FARM BUREAU SUPPORT

The New York Farm Bureau has long advocated for the cap. Farm Bureau President Dean Nor ton thanked Cuomo for his continuing commitment to farms across the state.

“The 2 percent agricultural assessment cap has long been a priority for New York Farm Bureau. It is a big step forward in reducing the increasing property-tax burden that has limited our farmers’ ability to grow,” he said in a news release.

“It will also help young and beginning farmers as they endeavor to provide locally grown food, fuel and fiber. Today is a victory for all farmers, and this shows what can happen when we all work together for the betterment of agriculture.”

New York Apple Association President Jim Allen thanked Cuomo and the Farm Bureau for bringing the measure to fruition.

“Signing this legislation is yet another example of Governor Cuomo’s support of New York state agriculture and his commitment to help farmers in NYS continue to grow to make NYS a leader in agriculture,” he said in a statement. The cap will benefit apple growers that operate over 54,000 acres of apple orchards in the Empire State,” he said. 

Mike Durant, New York state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said Cuomo has sent a strong message to family farms with his signature.

“Agri-business contributes mightily to the health of New York’s economy, and the rapid escalation of property taxes was threatening to permanently alter the sustainability of our family farms,” he said in a press release.

“We applaud both the unanimous approval by the legislature and commitment by the governor to help sustain and grow this vital segment of New York’s economy.”

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com