State budget offers tax relief for North Country farmers, Assemblywoman Russell says
Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 8:44 am

The final New York State budget provides tax relief for North Country farmers by continuing the phase-out of the 18-a energy tax, changing the estate tax and restoring $3.5 million to agricultural programs, according to Assemblywoman Addie Russell (D-Theresa).

“The tax relief contained in this budget will lower the cost of doing business and make it more affordable for farmers to pass their businesses on to the next generation,” said Russell, whose 116th Assembly District includes all St. Lawrence County towns along the St. Lawrence River (Massena, Ogdensburg, Louisville, Waddington, Lisbon, Oswegatchie, Morristown, and Hammond) plus the towns of Canton, Potsdam, Rossie, Macomb, and DePeyster, and northern Jefferson County not including Watertown.

The budget agreement continues the phase out of the 18-a energy tax and lowers the rate for families, farmers and businesses, providing $200 million a year in tax relief.

“Eliminating this tax will make North Country farm products more competitive and enable farmers to purchase land, equipment and livestock, and grow their businesses,” she said.

The final budget agreement changes the estate tax by raising the amount of assets that can be exempted from the tax from $1 million to $5 million over 5 years. Family farms often have assets such as land and barns totaling over $1 million that subject them to estate taxes, Assemblywoman Russell said.

The budget also restores nearly $9 million to critical programs administered by the Department of Agriculture and Markets and includes an increase to the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) of $9 million which includes funding for wastewater and sewage treatment capital projects.

In an effort to protect farming operations from excessive lawsuits, the budget also includes new protections for farmers who voluntarily provide information in participation with cattle health programs. Under the statute, information provided to such health programs will be kept from the public. The new exemptions do not apply to information collected as part of official investigations or action taken in response to a public health risk.

Russell also noted that the budget contains language legalizing crossbow hunting in New York. Legislation she sponsored in 2010 temporarily legalized the practice but expired it in December of 2012. This year’s budget permanently legalizes the crossbow hunting, opening up new opportunities for hunting in the North Country.