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?
Tags: agriculture, cuomo, farming, new york, politics, small business, yogurt