North Country Assemblywoman co-sponsors Agriculture and Rural Jobs Fund bill
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - 11:31 am

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, announced legislation she co-sponsored aimed at helping agribusinesses and small, family-owned businesses in rural communities grow has passed both the Assembly and Senate.

The legislation, the New York Rural and Agricultural Jobs Act (A.4772-C), addresses aspects of capital funding for agriculture.

"The challenges facing agribusinesses in the North Country and around the state are not a secret. This legislation would set up a fund farmers and rural businesses could use to access capital funding, a frequent challenge for small businesses and farmers in rural areas like St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

"I have expressed concern in the past that a number of the state's economic development programs are not as effective as they could be in rural areas. I have also called for more aggressive economic development initiatives designed to assist our state's farmers. The creation of this fund would be a step in the right direction in addressing those issues," she noted.

The New York Rural and Agricultural Jobs Act would raise funds from private investors, which could be accessed by small rural businesses that need capital to start or grow their operations.

To encourage investment in rural businesses, the bill will also allow investors to claim a tax credit after the first two years of the program.

The credit is available to investors with corporate income liability, insurance premium liability, or franchise tax liability. A tax credit worth 25 percent of the investment amount can be claimed in the third year of the program, and a tax credit worth 20 percent of the investment amount can be claimed in both the fourth and fifth years of the program.

Tax credit proceeds would be supplemented by private capital investments.

Assemblywoman Jenne, a long-time member of the Assembly's Agriculture Committee, has expressed serious concern about the future of the dairy industry, particularly small and mid-size farms, in the wake of a lengthy stretch of low milk prices.

She has called on the state to institute an incentive program to assist farmers that meet high-quality standards when milk prices are low.

She noted other lawmakers at the state and federal level have also unveiled proposals to assist struggling dairy farmers.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, for example, has proposed legislation that would set a floor level for fluid milk prices adjusted for inflation so it doesn't fall below the cost of production.

"We talk about the challenges facing our dairy farmers year after year. We are asking our farmers to meet today's production costs with revenues for milk sales at levels they were seeing in 1980," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

"It's time for both the state and federal governments to take bold action to support a key component of the North Country economy and protect our nation's food security," she added.