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August 20, 2013

State announces $1 million for dairy

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — A variety of measures to support state agriculture by reducing energy costs, bolstering business operations and improving environmental planning were announced Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“New York is proud to be home to a robust agriculture industry that supports thousands of jobs and provides the economic lifeblood for families and communities across the state,” Cuomo said. “Over the past two-and-a-half years, we have worked hard to support the growth of our already vibrant agriculture industry, including cutting burdensome regulations and helping small dairy farms expand their herds.”

Dairy Acceleration Program

The Department of Agriculture and Markets is working in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Conservation to launch the Dairy Acceleration Program (DAP) by making $1 million available in funding to help dairy farmers develop individualized business and environmental plans.

Through the DAP, farmers can tap into the expertise of the Cornell Cooperative Extension network, Cornell PRO-DAIRY and other agricultural programs to facilitate business operations and increase production on their farms.

To be eligible for DAP, a dairy farm must have complete financial records. Preference will be given to farms with under 300 cows. DAP funding will cover 80 percent of a project’s cost.

To apply for DAP, visit ansci.cornell.edu/prodairy/dairy_acceleration.

Renewable energy from waste

Cuomo recently signed legislation that supports farmers in their efforts to install anaerobic digesters, which convert farm waste to renewable energy. This helps farmers address waste disposal and nutrient-recycling challenges while helping them lower their energy bills. Support for this equipment on farms was a key goal of the state’s first yogurt summit, which was convened by Cuomo in 2012.

Specifically, the legislation clarifies that anaerobic digesters fixed to agricultural lands are subject to existing property tax exemptions. In addition, it increases the limit to 1,000 kilowatts for the anaerobic digesters that are eligible for 15-year real property tax exemptions.

Other legislation recently approved by Cuomo supports farmers in their efforts to reduce their energy bills with the installation of clean energy projects such as solar and fuel cells. Specifically, legislation approved by Cuomo increases from 25 kilowatts to 100 kilowatts the maximum electricity generation for the solar electric systems eligible for net metering without the need to move them to a commercial meter. Also, another bill authorizes the remote net metering of fuel cells installed on farms and nonresidential buildings.

Agriculture Committee Chairman Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson said: “This is wonderful news, and I applaud the governor on his efforts to support farms all across the state. For too long, farms have been faced with significant increases in energy costs, fuel, fertilizer and many other burdens keeping them from getting ahead. This program will certainly help farmers grow and allow them to stay viable in New York State.”

State Sen. James L. Seward, R-Milford said, “Agriculture is a key piece of our area’s economic fabric and way of life. As a long-time member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I have helped develop laws to reduce the high energy costs farmers face, cut unnecessary government red tape, and open up new markets for our agricultural products. Farmers are true stewards of the land and initiatives like the Dairy Acceleration Program and measures to increase the use of anaerobic digesters will make it easier for them to take advantage of new technology and help our agriculture industry grow and thrive.”