The Advocacy Committee has held two teleconference meetings in 2016, on January 22 and March 4.
NYSNLA was represented at the Empire State Council of Agricultural Associations’ (CAO) Planning Meeting on December 11 and Lobby Day on February 9. These meetings were for a review of the continuation of policy statements for 2015, a call for a presentation of any new resolutions for 2016 and finalizing the 2016 Legislative Priorities to be presented to the Governor. NYSNLA introduced language in support of SUNY Agricultural & Technical Programs across the state.
NYSNLA also participated in the New York Farm Bureau’s Lobby Day on March 1. NYSNLA accompanied the Long Island Farm Bureau’s delegation and represented nursery/landscape issues in almost 40 appointments with different senators and assembly members across the state. Some key issues being lobbied for included:
1. Minimum Wage & Paid Family Leave: opposing the proposed increase to $15 per hour and paid family leave initiatives which will unfairly burden small businesses in our industry.
2. Budget Items: supporting budget funding for the NYS Farm Viability Institute, Agricultural Education Programs, FFA, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Fund and IPM programs.
3. DEC: met privately with Department of Environmental Conservation deputies on issues such as environmental and water quality concerns and nitrogen and pesticide runoff impacts; discussing less-than-label applicator rates for restricted chemicals; wildlife management plans for deer and geese damage.
ADVOCACY COMMITTEE RECOMENDATIONS
The Advocacy Committee drafted a letter for review by the Executive Board for NYSNLA to support two legislative bills to allow for “effective use of pesticides” to control the tick population and prevent the spread of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
INVASIVE SPECIES UPDATES
1. Grace Period for Barberry Expires: The extension for clearing inventory of Berberis thundbergii expired on March 10, making the sale of any barberry other than the one exempted cultivar “aurea,” illegal. A reminder was sent to all members through email earlier this month
2. Fines for Violations: Chris Logue from the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets reports that any inspections going forward will be focused on checking on those who were issued warnings for violating NYRCC 575 and that they will be levying fines for repeat violations. Fines are stated in the regulation at a rate of $600 but it is not clear if that is per incident, per plant, etc. Chris stated that the application of the fines is at the discretion of Ag & Markets and the DEC based on the severity of the violation.
3. Mattress Tag Law? Chris Logue asked us to make certain our landscape contractor members understand that the law requires them to inform their customers of the dangers of planting a regulated, invasive species. They suggested that the warning label on the regulated plant SHOULD REMAIN ON THE PLANT EVEN AFTER PLANTED IN THE GROUND. They also suggested that landscape contractors get written confirmation from their customers that they understand and acknowledge they are planting a regulated, invasive species in their landscapes.