Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,C,I,Ref-Lockport) joined with members of the Assembly Minority Conference to call for enactment of a comprehensive relief package for New York state’s agricultural community.
“New York’s farmers are already struggling to make ends meet, but now with restaurants, schools, large venues and other buyers of their products being closed the demand for food produced is lower than normal,” said Norris. “Our dairy farms have been particularly hard hit. The state can and should take immediate action to provide relief to farmers across our state and help farms survive while helping to stabilize local and regional economies.”
Having reached out to the White House and members of Congress for a relief package as part of the next federal stimulus bill, Norris and his colleagues are now calling on Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders to take the following steps at the state level to bring relief to farmers across the state:
- Suspend DMV registration requirements for agricultural vehicles and farm trucks for one year.
- Suspend the highway use tax, special hauling permit fees, and collection of New York state tolls for vehicles used to transport agricultural products, including milk.
- Suspend the 60-hour overtime threshold for farm laborers enacted as part of the 2019 Farm Labor bill for one year.
- Suspend the 24-hour agricultural rest requirement during the state of emergency period.
- Extend the Milk Producers Security Fund to help producers who are unable to sell because of COVID-19
- Use additional federal stimulus money for direct-cash infusions for Cornell Cooperative Extensions to assist in the provision of emergency services.
- Use federal stimulus funding to invest in rural broadband infrastructure to assist in the provision of services to farms/rural areas during uncertain social and economic times.
- Provide vouchers for food banks to purchase local dairy and agricultural products.
- Stipulate “green nurseries” as essential businesses for the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis, so that these businesses can re-open while following social-distancing guidelines.