The New York State Senate is currently considering two bills that would ease government regulation on small farms and lower the tax burden of farmers.
The two pieces of legislation, Senate bills 3542 and 5160 are both designed to cut red tape for family farms and encourage the growth of small farms throughout the state, sponsor Patricia Ritchie said.
The first bill would redefine maple sugar factories as agricultural businesses. Current state law allows agricultural buildings to qualify for certain exemptions from building and fire codes, but does not classify maple sugar facilities as agricultural buildings. The new classification would not only allow maple syrup producers to avoid government regulation, but would also allow them to take advantage of state agritourism laws.
The second law under consideration would allow farmers to use silvopasturing land for the purposes of tax assessment. Silvopasturing, the combination of forestry and livestock grazing, is an ecologically sound process that benefits both animals and timber production. Under current agricultural laws, this land is not eligible for agricultural property tax assessment.
When they pass the Senate, which both bills are expected to do, they will move on to the State Assembly.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer