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Agriculture

State Sen. Ritchie says investing in food research will help farmers' bottom line

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Sarah Harris
/
North Country Public Radio
State Sen. Patty Ritchie says Cornell University scientists created two new varieties of apples last year.

A farm initiative lead by state Sen. Patty Ritchie plans to restore $12 million to research programs slated to be cut under Cuomo's  budget plan.

Ritchie chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. She says food safety and research programs ultimately help farmers grow their bottom line. For example, in the past year, Cornell University scientists have researched ways to fight bird flu and stop the die-off of honeybees and more.

"Just last year there were two new apple varieties that came out and those are the types of things that are helping our farmers to continue to compete," she said.

At a press conference with her Senate colleagues Tuesday, Ritchie said the Planting Seeds Initiative would also cut taxes for farmers.

"I've had many farmers who have come in and said that the estate tax is their biggest fear. When they go to transfer a farm from generation to generation the estate tax is so high many times they have to sell off the farm or a huge chunk of the farm in order to pay for the estate tax.”

The New York Farm Bureau recently vowed to fight Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.  Ritchie says she shares farmers’ concerns. But, she said, a combination of small crucial investments from the state like more research funding and tax cuts will help farmers weather any raise in the minimum wage.