From the Desk of Assemblyman Bill Magee

Magee Attends Annual Dairy Day

(Town of Nelson, NY – July 2012) In celebration of the contributions made by New York’s agriculture industry, Assemblyman Bill Magee (D-Nelson), chairman of the Agriculture Committee, attended the annual Dairy Day reception, which highlighted how New York’s dairy farm community benefits both the health of the state’s economy and its citizens.

Featured leaders included the Assembly Minority Conference, the New York State Grange, the American Dairy Association, the Dairy Council and former New York Giants Super Bowl champion Joe Morris.

“As someone who was raised in a farming community, I recognize how hard our dairy farmers work to provide us with nutritious and delicious products,” Magee said. “Dairy Day increases awareness of dairy farmers and shows our gratitude to these hardworking men and women, while enjoying the fruits of their labor.”

New York currently ranks third in the nation in milk production, with the dairy industry being the largest sector of the agricultural economy. As chairman of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, Assemblyman Magee has fought hard to promote the state’s agriculture industry. This week, the Assembly passed two pieces of legislation Magee introduced in an effort to expand the local Pride of New York program.

Magee’s Bill to Bring Fresh Produce to Seniors Passes Assembly

In an effort to continue supporting seniors and products grown local, Magee announced recently the Assembly passed legislation he introduced to establish a Farm-to-Senior program (A.10308). This bill facilitates and promotes the purchase of products produced in New York farms by senior centers and other senior communities (A.10308).

“Our regions thrive on farms that produce high-quality foods,” Magee said. “This program would extend our fresh-farm goods so seniors can enjoy them, too.”

In 2002, New York state successfully established the Farm-to-School program, bringing fresh, local goods to schools statewide. Magee’s bill would mirror the program and provide the same access to seniors, while expanding a potential new market for farmers.

“Almost all of New York state farms are family-owned and operated,” Magee said. “Branching out beyond our usual markets will be good for our hardworking families and good for our seniors.”

This bill joins Magee’s legislation introduced last month in the push to promote New York-made goods. Magee’s two earlier bills would expand the Pride of NY program by providing designation to restaurants for “Dine: Pride of New York” and to retailers and wholesalers for “Shop: Pride of New York.”

This new bill would also establish a promotional event, known as “New York Golden Harvest: Seniors Week,” to further promote the program among seniors, Magee said.

Pride of New York Program Passed the Assembly

In an effort to encourage more consumers to buy local, Magee said the Assembly passed two pieces of legislation that he prime sponsored to expand the Pride of New York program (A.9877 and A.9868).

“I recognize the value of promoting local goods,” Magee said. “Pride of New York is a win-win, as it benefits area farmers and business owners, while providing a boost to our local economy.”

The first of the two bills would establish the Dine: Pride of New York program by creating a logo for restaurants that have 15 percent or more of their products made in New York (A.9877). Qualifying restaurants would be able to display the logos on their doors, store fronts or websites, allowing restaurant patrons to easily identify and support local products, while simultaneously encouraging more businesses to buy local.

“More than ever, people are realizing the importance of supporting local farms and businesses by purchasing goods made right here in our backyard,” Magee said. “Local restaurants and farmers can increase revenue by displaying the Pride of New York logo, and customers can have the satisfaction of knowing they’ve helped their neighborhood farmers and business owners.”

The second bill would establish the Shop: Pride of New York program and allow food wholesalers to display the Pride of New York logo if 20 percent or more of their products are New York products (A.9868). This would help get more local goods on the shelves, promote wholesalers and retailers offering local products and give families further access to local goods.

“The Pride of New York program helps to promote the state’s agriculture industry and local businesses, something we need to do with the economy struggling,” Magee said, adding that all qualifying businesses would be given advertising and promotional materials free of charge and would be further promoted by having their business name on the Pride of New York website.

Legislation to Create Farm Brewery Licenses Passes Assembly

In an effort to help local farmers and businesses grow and create jobs, Magee announced the Assembly passed legislation authored to allow farms to grow, brew and sell locally made beer (A.10694). This legislation is expected to become law.

“New York’s craft-brewing industry supports more than $200 million of economic activity each year,” Magee said. “Under this law, farmers and brewers will be given many more options to expand their businesses and market their products. Craft beer brewed on farms will be able to be sold at farmers markets and the crops needed to brew beer will be allowed to be grown – giving our agricultural economy a much-needed shot in the arm.”

Magee’s bill will allow farm breweries to sell their product, for consumption off the premises, at state fairs, county fairs and farmers markets. In addition, this measure will allow farm brewery licensees to manufacture, bottle and sell food products and condiments, as well as store and sell other items, such as non-alcoholic beverages, food items, beer supplies and accessories, beer-making equipment and souvenirs.

Locally, this measure paves the way for Empire Brewing Company, a Syracuse restaurant that brews its own beer, to move ahead with plans to build a stand-alone brewery just outside of Cazenovia, helping expand economic growth and create new jobs in the community, Magee said.

“Assemblyman Magee clearly recognizes the contribution the craft-brewing industry is making to revive the state’s economy by creating jobs and allowing a clear path for farm brewery agri-tourism,” said David Katleski, owner of Empire Brewing Company and president of the New York State Brewers Association. “This legislation gives incentives that will allow brewers and farmers to work together revitalizing the once-thriving hop industry throughout the state, particularly Madison County – once the hop-growing capital of the world.

“The new Farm Brewery license will also encourage farmers to grow much-needed barley used in the brewing process. The overall deal gives us the help we need to continue to add jobs and keep prices down for our loyal customers while strengthening our bond with area farmers.”

In order to qualify for the farm brewery license, farms must manufacture, store and sell New York state-labeled beer or cider and have an annual production capacity of 60,000 barrels or less. To be considered New York state-labeled beer or cider, the products must be made from New York state-grown ingredients, which will further boost farm sales, Magee said.

Magee is also co-sponsoring a measure that would provide a tax credit or refund of 14 cents per gallon for New York brewers on the first 50,000 gallons produced in state, and another 4.5 cents-per-gallon credit for the next 15 million gallons (A.10695). This bill will also waive the annual brand label registration fee of $150 for brands sold in state, as long as less than 1,500 gallons of each brand are produced every year.

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