Scanning Cuomo's speech for signs of the farm

Governor Andrew Cuomo delivering his State of the State message Wednesday. Photo from the Governor's Facebook page.

Did Governor Cuomo give short shrift to agriculture, one of New York's biggest economic sectors, in his State of the State message yesterday in Albany?  Or not?

He mentioned yogurt and beer and wine.  But there's wasn't a chunk of the speech when he said – ok, let's talk about New York's farms.  Assemblywoman Addie Russell, a Democrat from the Fort Drum area, told me yesterday in a way, that's a good thing:

You can’t produce yogurt without dairy farmers.  You can’t produce wine without grapes being grown here in New York State, so you don’t need to say agriculture.  A lot of Upstate New York manufacturing is agriculture.  I think he gets that.

What Russell seems to be saying is that Cuomo couched farms and agriculture as businesses, needing the same boost as tourism or manufacturing Upstate, rather than a separate, ghettoed thing.

The New York Farm Bureau reacted similarly, in praise and criticism:

Governor Cuomo put forth much needed reforms that will truly benefit family farms which are also small businesses. These reforms include reducing the crushing burden of workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. It will take common sense initiatives like this to improve the business climate in New York.  However, our members who are struggling financially in these tough times have great concerns with what a hike in the minimum wage may mean to their bottom lines. It conflicts with the vision of a robust economic future for upstate NY the Governor spoke of in his address.

There were some specifics for agriculture.  A new Taste-NY program would build "brick and mortar" duty-free stores across the state and in collaboration with supermarkets that would sell New York products "with aggressive marketing and branding".  And some of Cuomo's green energy proposals could benefit farmers, from wind turbine leases to methane digesters.

So what do you think?  Is it a good thing that Cuomo appears to see farms in the larger context of businesses?  Or does New York agriculture deserve special attention?

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One Comment

  1. The Governor did well to approach New York's farmers from this direction. In these times of increasing climate uncertainty, farmers need fewer roadblocks to making a living and running their business. What farmers don't need is a big shot wearing rubber boots and making some symbolic gesture.
    Governor Cuomo is a man of business, and a person who watches the way business and money flow in this state, and other than that casino thing, seems to bring some good people and good ideas to the table.
    Some in the industry will complain about the minimum wage increase…. They're just going to have to suck it up. No one should have to work for that little, no matter what field they work in. I've hired a lot of young people to do many kinds of menial work over the years, and never ever paid as little as minimum wage to anyone over the age of twelve. Paying a better wage to those at the very bottom of the ladder is good for everyone.