I’m pleased to see the state embrace our yogurt producers. For the past two years, the state has hosted a yogurt summit, which brings yogurt producers, dairy producers, and state officials together to try and find new ways to support the industry. As a result, one of the programs devised to help dairy production is the Dairy Acceleration Program (“DAP”). The state, with Cornell Cooperative Extension administrating the program, aims to assist dairy farmers to enhance their farms by providing funding (up to 80 percent of project costs) for business projects on the farm. Some examples of projects being funded through DAP include nutrition management plans, as well as storage and handling of manure. For example, up to $6,000 is available per farm to develop a Comprehensive Nutrient Management plan for farmers with less than 300 cows. This program gives preference to small dairy farms. To learn more, visit ansci.cornell.edu/prodairy/dairy_acceleration/index.html
In this year’s budget, with the help of Senator Patty Ritchie, we were able to pass the Beginning Farmer’s NY Fund, a pool of grant money allocated to catalyze the careers of emerging farmers. Up to $50,000 is available for forward-thinking small farms that reside on less than 150 acres. We also reformed the estate tax. This will allow families to pass down their farms from generation to generation without being forced to sell them due to burdensome taxation. The exemption threshold will increase from $1 million to $2.06 million this year. By 2017, the exemption threshold will be $5.25 million. By 2019, the exemption threshold will be in line with the federal level. Though I would have liked to have seen these changes be effective immediately, I’m glad we will eventually subject fewer people to the estate tax.
Dairy is such an important part of our economy. Though a dairy’s success relies on many factors, including fluctuating prices of commodities and demand for milk, I’m pleased the state has been able to lend a hand where it can and hope we continue to do more going forward for this important industry.
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