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Agriculture is one of the most dynamic and innovative economic sectors in New York state. With typical ingenuity, producers are coming up with new business models, using the latest research to battle pests, funding new ventures through social media and creating their own distribution systems.In a series of six reports the Innovation Trail team will take you through some of the current challenges and opportunities facing upstate farmers. You can follow the series all this week during Morning Edition and here as well as download the podcasts from our soundcloud page.

Ag advocates applaud movement on tighter farmland assessment cap

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Joanna Richards
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NCPR

Agriculture advocates are welcoming progress on state legislation that would slow rising property taxes for farmers. The Senate passed a bill last week that tightens the cap on farmland assessment increases. Yesterday, that measure also passed out of the Assembly's Agriculture Committee.

The bill would lower the cap on farmland assessment increases from 10 percent to 2 percent per year.

Farm advocates held a conference call to applaud Albany's movement on the issue. 

Dean Norton is president of the New York Farm Bureau. He said the state's farmers pay an average of over $38 per acre in property taxes, while states like Michigan and Ohio pay in the mid-20s per acre, and others pay far less.

Norton said New York farmers spend about 15 percent of their net income each year on property taxes, "and that is 5 percentage points higher than the United States average of 10 percent. And if you compare us to California, which is only 7 percent, you can see the disadvantage that our producers are put into, when it comes to being competitive across the country and internationally."

Rising corn and soybean prices have been boosting the production value of farmland, which in turn has hiked up property taxes for farmers. But even though farmers are taking in more money overall on certain crops, their profits have remained stagnant for about a decade, thanks to rising production costs.

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