Press-Republican

Opinion

October 31, 2013

Editorial: Good for farmers; now, those mandates

Last week, Gov. Cuomo signed into law a bill requiring local governments to increase the assessment on agricultural land in the state by no more than 2 percent a year.

In our view, farmers have enjoyed a number of government protections in New York but still bear a hefty burden in trying to continue to make a decent living and provide food for everyone’s table.

We just hope New York officials are sure there is enough revenue for local governments to do business as they continue to limit resources while continuing costly state mandates.

We have no argument on the farm issue. Farmers are the prototype of the hard-working American, toiling dawn till dusk and often beyond, in all kinds of elements, hoping desperately that the weather will allow a worthy crop.

Some farmers drive Cadillacs; others must cobble the aging family car in the same way they must coax additional years out of their agricultural machinery.

The biggest fear we must all have is not for the current farmers, who remain as committed to their livelihood as we are to their produce, but to the next generation. How can young people be persuaded to enter such a domineering career as farming? Surely, not by taxing them out of prosperity.

Right now, an astonishing 25 percent of New York state land is farmed. That is a percentage that must be maintained.

The state has taken prudent action to help farmers be rewarded for their extraordinary efforts and be assured we all realize that the state’s worth is not just in tourism and industry.

The New York State Farm Bureau wanted people to know they aren’t shirking the tax burden: “This (assessment restriction) does not mean farmers won’t be paying their fair share of taxes. It simply will control the rate of escalation that will make it easier for our family farms to budget for and pay their taxes. By putting pen to paper, Gov. Cuomo has given another boost to our family farms that contribute greatly to both the physical and economic health of their communities, and New York Farm Bureau very much appreciates his continued partnership with us on critical economic issues.”

Similarly, the state restricts local governments’ tax-levy increases to about 2 percent. Yet costs continue to rise, many imposed by the state itself.

For example, counties in New York pay more than half their budget for the most generous welfare program in the United States.

We’re all for keeping everyone’s taxes down, especially our farmers’.

Now, the state’s job is to corral those mandates proportionally.

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