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Farmers testify about troubles with overregulation

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Farmers testify about troubles with overregulation
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Regulations, mandates, that red tape that so many small businesses talk about here in New York State. It's what business owners are saying holds them back. Thursday, in the North Country, where farming is such a big industry, farmers got to testify about their issues in front of Senate Lawmakers. As our Brian Dwyer tells us, they didn't "hold back" their worries.

WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- We hear about it constantly. Frankly, people want it. Local foods. Fresh foods.

It's a massive push in New York State. A full potential that farmers say may never be reached if the state can't get out of its own way.

"The governor himself wants to grow our dairy production. It that's what you want to do, let's take away some of the barriers to doing it," Jefferson County Ag Coordinator Jay Matteson said.

It's regulations, mandates, that red tape that New York State requires that farmers say hurts production, job creation and the bottom line.

"Watch things grow. Watch agricultural business grow if we would do that," Matteson said about possible changes.

Matteson was one of a dozen or so farmers who got the chance to testify in front of a committee of state Senators Thursday. They talked about everything from unnecessary environmental regulations, unnecessary record keeping of things like wind and temperatures, food regulations and even the proposed labor bill.

It's one of 10 hearings the Senate is hosting around the state with each involving a different industry. The goal is to find 1,000 regulations that can be tossed.

"I really do think we can be successful if we do our job the right way and if we continue to get the response that we've had so far," State Senator Patrick Gallivan said. "We've got people who've come to these hearings very well prepared and our providing us with details of their business, their industry."

But nothing gets in the way more than taxes. They hurt everyone. In New York farmers and growers are even hurt by Canadian taxes. One issue discussed was the fact Canadians have to pay a 40 percent tax to their government for all U.S. wine they bring over. Local wineries say they need help starting talks with their Canadian neighbors.

"We've been working with the federal government, but it's been a miserable failure quite frankly. We're going to take it upon ourselves to develop some state programs directly with Ontario," Coyote Moon Wineries Owner Phil Randazzo said.

One idea being thrown around is a 1000 Islands International Wine Trail that would be tax free for all farm wineries on both sides of the border. A plan Randazzo says could end a lot of problems.

Randazzo also spoke about the good things the state has done to help farms, especially wineries, expand. He just hopes those things don't get lost in attempts to fix other issues.

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