Cutting ‘red tape,’ lower taxes top priorities of North Country farmers, according to survey by Sen. Ritchie
Sunday, March 18, 2012 - 5:22 pm

Cutting red tape and lowering taxes seem to be top priorities of farmers in St. Lawrence, Oswego, and Jefferson counties, according to Sen. Patty Ritchie, chair of the State Senate’s Agriculture Committee.

Those issues also have been top priorities for Ritchie, who sent out a questionnaire to farmers in her district on those and other issues.

Of more than 100 farmers who responded to the list of questions, a large majority chose reducing regulations and cutting taxes over increased assistance with marketing and research for farm products. And most said that their choice represented a change in priorities over the past year.

“Farming is our most heavily regulated industry, with more than two dozen different government agencies overseeing the day-to-day operations of our family farms, so it’s no surprise that farmers in Central and Northern New York want to see some relief from needless red tape that often finds them spending more time filling out paperwork than focusing on their business,” Ritchie said.

The 48th District senator said she also found overwhelming support among the farmers in her district answering the questionnaire for several of her legislative initiatives, including her “Let NY Farm Act,” a comprehensive measure that seeks to cut red tape and ease the burden of government regulation on farmers, which is a top priority for the New York Farm Bureau.

Among the survey’s other findings:

· Farmers in Central and Northern New York are optimistic about the future of their businesses, with most expecting to grow in the coming year. No farmers who responded to the questions said they expected a shrinking business in coming months

· Farmers do support continuing research, education and marketing programs that have traditionally been funded through the state budget

· By a margin of more than two to one, responders do not support a state Agriculture Department plan to charge a marketing assessment to dairy farmers, nor an Assembly plan to increase the minimum wage.

· They did support, by a narrow margin, additional funding for training for farm workers.

More information on the questions and answers is available on Ritchie’s website, www.ritchie.nysenate.gov.

Ritchie, former St. Lawrence County Clerk, is a Heuvelton Republican who has said she plans to run in November’s election to keep the Senate seat.