Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced last week new initiatives to streamline regulatory burdens currently placed on farmers in New York. The first-ever Strategic Interagency Task Force on Lessening Obstacles to Agriculture identified new opportunities for improving the regulations for pesticide registration and certification without compromising current environmental protections. Additional regulatory changes for the benefit of New York agriculture as a result of the Task Force will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
"This administration remains committed to supporting farmers and cutting red tape to make it easier for agricultural businesses to grow and thrive in New York," Governor Cuomo said. "Through this task force, we are implementing commonsense solutions that will improve business for our farmers and maintain this state's strong commitment to protecting the environment."
The Task Force is comprised of leadership from state government and representatives from the agriculture industry. It met five times during 2014, working together to develop recommendations to streamline the regulatory process for the state’s robust agricultural economy to grow. During these meetings, farmers identified concerns on a variety of current regulations and posed them to the task force, which responded with the following solutions:
Easier Pesticide Registration Process
In response to feedback from farmers, the Department of Environmental Conservation improved its pesticide product registration processes by scheduling pre-application meetings with registrants, reducing potential delays. It has also improved notification of new pesticide registrations to applicators and distributors.
Faster Recertification Process for Pesticide Applicators
Farmers using pesticides are required to be certified as private pesticide applicators and take either continuing education courses or a recertification exam every five years to remain current. The Department of Environmental Conservation now tracks applicator certification status in a new database, which improves the renewal notice process. Later phases will allow farmers to view and update their own information online.
Simplify Categories for Pesticide Applicators
New York State has seven private pesticide certifications. To make it easier for farmers to diversify the commodities they grow, the Department of Environmental Conservation now allows an applicant to request to switch their category, in most cases, and will propose consolidating the categories to simplify certification requirements.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said, “Based on these recommendations, the Department of Environmental Conservation has identified actions that will reduce the regulatory burdens on farmers and help them use approved products without weakening environmental protections. Farmers are excellent stewards of the environment and we will continue to work with the agriculture community to promote New York’s agricultural economy and natural resources.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Governor Cuomo has long recognized that our farms are economic drivers, fueling the economy and providing jobs and nutritious products for people around the globe. Easing the regulatory burden helps open new opportunities for expansion within our agricultural economy. I commend Commissioner Martens and the Department of Environmental Conservation on these achievements and believe by working together we have found a common ground on improvements that will go a long way in helping farmers do the work they love that maintains a commitment to our environment.”
Jeff Williams, New York Farm Bureau’s Public Policy Director, said, “The Strategic Interagency Task Force on Lessening Obstacles to Agriculture was a valuable opportunity for farmers, industry leaders and state officials to talk about regulatory burdens and look for common sense solutions. Changes to the pesticide approval and certifications processes will create greater efficiencies while maintaining a high level of standards in this state. New York Farm Bureau appreciates the leadership of Governor Cuomo’s administration, including the efforts of the Departments of Environmental Conservation and Agriculture and Markets, and the work of the entire committee. We look forward to even more regulatory changes to support New York’s farmers.”
Industry members of the Task Force are as follows:
- Jeff Williams, Director of Public Policy, New York Farm Bureau
- Jim Bittner, President and General Manager, Singer Farms, Appleton, NY
- Ken Schmitt, retired vegetable farmer, Melville, NY
- Brian Reeves, co-owner, Reeves Farms, Baldwinsville, NY
- Dave Fisher, Owner, Mapleview Dairy, Madrid, NY
- Tim Stanton, Owner, Stantons Feura Farm and Markets, Feura Bush, NY
- Tonya Van Slyke, Executive Director, Northeast Dairy Producers Association
- Karin Bump, Professor, Equine Studies Business & Management Program, Cazenovia College
- Jeff Fetter, President of Scolaro, Fetter, Grizanti, McGough & King, P.C
State agencies taking part in the Task Force are as follows:
- New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
- New York State Department of Labor
- New York State Department of Transportation
- New York State Public Service Commission
- New York State Department of Health
- New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
- Empire State Development
- New York State Department of Tax and Finance
- State Liquor Authority