A spokesperson from the New York Farm Bureau says members are concerned the Governor’s free tolls for the farming industry would only provide them with limited use. Right now the proposal covers smaller trucks. Although, the Farm Bureau’s Steve Ammerman feels the starting concept is making positive strides for the State’s farming industry.
"It's a great proposal by the governor. It's something that we have long advocated for that would help our farmers reduce costs but also improve the ability of them to transport products especially into the larger metropolitan areas and into New York City. It's a great first step and something that we are appreciative that the governor is offering, but we are looking to have further discussions to see if we could increase the weight limit," Ammerman said.
Ammerman says the ideal weight limitation would increase from 26,000 to 92,000 pounds for farming vehicles. Governor Cuomo unveiled the plan as part of his State Budget proposal last month in Syracuse.
"Commercial traffic related to farms, which are a very big part of the Upstate economy, as you know, and which have been complaining for years that a big part of the farming business involves trucking. Goods have to come in. Goods have to go out. And that thruway was a constant drain. I propose we eliminate tolls entirely on all agricultural vehicles," said Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The Governor’s plan estimates that free tolls would save the farming industry up to $5 million annually. Ammerman with the Farm Bureau says even more concerning than the tweaking the toll proposal is Governor’s plan to raise the State’s minimum wage by 2021. He says estimates show it could mean a 70 percent increase in labor costs for family farmers and small businesses.