Tuesday, 27 January 2015

State agriculture committee highlights progress

A plan aimed at keeping more young people involved with family farming, restoring and increasing financial support for agriculture programs and renewing a push to encourage people to eat locally grown food are highlights of the 2014 annual report of the state Senate Agriculture Committee released Monday.
State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, chairwoman of the committee, said last year’s progress included repealing costly mandates that affect farmers.
She also cited the launch of initiatives such as “Young Farmers NY,” which aims to protect the state’s agriculture industry by providing young people with resources and incentives to enter careers in farming or agribusiness.
“Last year was extremely productive for our committee and I’m looking forward to us accomplishing even more in 2015 when it comes to continuing to grow agriculture and supporting New York’s hardworking farmers,” Mrs. Ritchie said in an emailed statement.
Other highlights in the report, which is available on the website www.ritchie.nysenate.gov, include:
■ Final passage of a bipartisan bill that directs the state agriculture commissioner to find ways to support aging farmers.
■ The adoption of a state budget that includes significant support for vital agricultural programs.
■ Final passage of legislation to increase the amount of locally grown and produced foods purchased by state agencies.
■ New efforts to protect people and animals from deadly diseases such as Eastern equine encephalitis, Lyme, West Nile and rabies through increased funding for preventive programs.
■ Creation of the “21st Century Workgroup for Disease Elimination and Reduction,” a group composed of experts in diseases, infection and public health charged with pushing for the development of effective vaccines against diseases.
Mrs. Ritchie first was named chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee in 2011 and has served as its leader since then. In this role, she has led the charge to increase funding for critical agriculture programs by more than $21 million above the governor’s recommendation, she said.

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