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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

“Rural and Agriculture Jobs Act”

ALBANY, Oct. 8, 2018 -- There’s a piece of legislation that will be delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo in the near future that could help make a great difference for the economic future of rural New York. The governor should sign the “New York Rural and Agriculture Jobs Act” into law as soon as it reaches his desk.

As a member of the state Senate Agriculture Committee and the representative of many rural communities across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, I was grateful to co-sponsor this legislation (S4727/A4772) and encourage its enactment by the Legislature. Many communities across rural, upstate New York remain in dire need of private-sector investment to help create jobs and encourage small businesses to grow and expand. This action would be a big step forward to draw greater private-sector investment in rural economies.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, from 2012 to 2016 nearly 60% of the state’s rural communities saw more businesses close than open. Additionally, Census figures earlier this year revealed that between 2010 and 2017, some 42 upstate New York counties lost population, and many observers agree that a lack of jobs and a stagnant economy -- combined with high taxes -- is the major reason why.

Greg Biryla, Director of NFIB New York, the state’s leading small business advocacy organization, recently said, “New York still taxes too much, regulates too much, mandates too much, and relies upon shortsighted, taxpayer-funded economic development incentives rather than working to create an economic climate that organically attracts small business investment and growth. Progress is appreciated, but small businesses need lawmakers from both parties to stay razor-focused on the many challenges and cost drivers that continue to make New York uncompetitive.”

Specifically, the Rural and Agriculture Jobs Act would establish a $100 million fund, created through private investment, to develop small businesses that are agricultural in nature or located in rural areas. If signed into law by the governor, it would improve access to capital for agriculture and rural small businesses that sometimes find it hard to obtain financial backing through traditional lending sources. Private investors who contribute to the new program would receive a tax credit. Reporting requirements are also included so taxpayers will know the exact benefits of the investments.

According to the advocacy group “Revive Rural NY,” the Act seeks to:

-- encourage national and regional licensed investors to invest in agribusinesses and rural, small businesses that lack access to affordable capital to expand their businesses;
-- attract private venture and growth capital to invest in rural NY, matching state incentives to private capital;
-- tie incentives to results through penalties for failure to meet job creation and new revenue goals;
-- impose transparent reporting requirements so that taxpayers will know the value to the state from the investments in rural New York;
-- focus on investments in manufacturing, agribusiness, ag-tech, plant sciences and high-tech sectors in rural New York.

The legislation has drawn support from key advocates including the Business Council of New York and Unshackle Upstate.

A legislative memorandum from Unshackle Upstate supporting the enactment of the New York Rural and Agriculture Jobs Act concludes, “It is critically important that New York State continue to explore ways and methods that will aid and promote economic development and job creation. This focus becomes even more imperative for many communities across Upstate New York that continue to struggle with a lack of private-sector job growth and population stagnation. Ensuring that we have successful farming and agricultural businesses are essential to the state’s overall economy and focus, and continued investment in these areas will only bolster New York State as a whole.”

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara

Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Jim Howell, Michael Lausell, Van Harp

Bottom row: Carl Blowers, David Reed, Phil Barnes, Mark Rondinaro


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Carl Blowers

Van Harp

Jim Howell

David M. Reed

Michael Lausell

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen, 481-0482

Mark Rondinaro

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Harriett Vickio, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano-- Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
Room 723, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-5791


© The Odessa File 2017
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869