Local officials are touting a new state law signed Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that puts a cap of two percent per year on increases in property tax assessments for agricultural land.
The cap will help not just farmers, but also grape growers and wineries, officials say.
The New York Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations had been pushing for such a measure for many years. The new law was sponsored in the state Senate by Sen. Tom O'Mara, R-Big Flats, and in the Assembly by Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, R-Corning.
The cap is "a big step forward in reducing the increasing property tax burden that has limited our farmers' ability to grow," said Dean Norton, president of the New York Farm Bureau, in a statement. "It will also help young and beginning farmers as they endeavor to provide locally grown food, fuel and fiber."
"Like other farmers, New York grape growers and wineries will benefit from this, and we are very grateful to the legislature and Governor for creating this new law," added Jim Trezise, president of the Canandaigua-based New York Wine and Grape Foundation.
According to O'Mara, property taxes on farmland have essentially doubled since 2006 due to rising land values.
New York farmers pay an average of $38.41 per acre in property taxes - second-highest in the country and $25 higher than the national average - putting them at a significant competitive disadvantage, said O'Mara, who serves on the Legislature's joint, bipartisan Commission on Rural Resources.
According to Palmesano, the sharp increase in property taxes for farmers over the past decade has coincided with pronounced increases to the cost of essential materials such as fuel and feed, as well as increases to labor and health care costs.
That ultimately means higher food prices for New Yorkers, Palmesano noted.
"This is also a victory for consumers who buy our farmers' produce every day at the grocery store," Palmesano said.