By Ashley Hupfl
ALBANY- Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed a bill to cap agricultural property assessments at two percent a year to help farmers.
State farmers' property taxes have almost doubled in the past 10 years, Cuomo said. Combined with higher costs of fuel and feed, the increase in taxes have strained farms and lead to higher prices at the grocery store.
"Protecting our farmers from unsustainable tax hikes is part of our work to change our state's reputation as the tax capital of the nation by controlling spending while reducing the tax burden on New Yorkers," Cuomo said in a statement.
The new tax cap will save farmers thousands of dollars a year, supporters of the measure said. New York also has a tax cap on property taxes that limits the growth to about 2 percent a year, but the new law deal with property assessments on farms.
"Putting the breaks on rising agricultural land assessments shows Governor Cuomo's commitment to helping control the heavy property tax burden to helping control the heavy property tax burden our farmers carry," President of state Farm Bureau Dean Norton said in a statement.
Previously, the annual assessment of properties could be raised up to 10 percent. With 25 percent of state land used as agriculture, lawmakers said the higher taxes put the state at a competitive disadvantage.
The state did not provide details on how much the program will cost taxpayers.
"The signing of this bill into law comes at a crucial time for our state's farmers, who have been carrying far too large a tax burden," Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, R-Corning, Steuben County, said in a statement.