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Alexandria Bay in Jefferson County is one of the communities that will receive funding for local road repairs in the 2013-14 budget. Photo: <a href="">Xaiozhuli</a> CC <a href="">some rights reserved</a>
Alexandria Bay in Jefferson County is one of the communities that will receive funding for local road repairs in the 2013-14 budget. Photo: Xaiozhuli CC some rights reserved

Highway, farm funds coming in NYS budget

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The region's representatives are getting a close look at the details of the budget to be finalized in Albany this week.

Word is out on money for local roads and bridges, and parts of the agriculture and markets budget.

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Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush of Black River says the transportation budget bill includes an extra $75 million in each of the next two years for local highway maintenance and repairs.

"And in my district that's a lot," he said, "because something like 62 percent of the bridges, for example, in my district are in poor condition or even closed. So that's the good news, that's the good news that has come out so far."

Blankenbush represents parts of Lewis, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence Counties.

North Country Senator Patty Ritchie's website lists specific funding amounts. When added together, the three counties will get about $1.5 million more than last year for local highway maintenance and repairs.

They include:

  • More than $5 million for reconstruction of Patterson Street in Ogdensburg.
  • $3 million for railroad bridge repairs on Watertown's Arsenal Street.
  • And $900,000 for Alexandria Bay's Riverwalk project.

Ritchie says the new state budget restores cuts to key agriculture programs, as well. While adding new funding and a new marketing initiative to help farmers market products to government agencies.

In a press release, Ritchie said the Senate gave its approval to a budget bill that encourages state agencies to purchase more local food, by giving them expanded authority to spend up to $200,000 for "food commodities that are grown, produced or harvested in New York."

She said the legislature is expected to act shortly on budget bills that increase funding for key agriculture research, marketing, education and promotion., including:

  • More than $1.7 million for the New York Farm Viability Institute, a farmer-led nonprofit that sponsors dozens of agricultural research and other programs across Central, Northern and Upstate New York to help bolster farmers' bottom lines. The total is more than $1.2 million above than the Governor originally proposed, and includes $220,000 to expand so-called dairy profit teams to help boost farmers' bottom lines;
  • $884,000 for Cornell University's FarmNet program — an increase of nearly $400,000 —to help struggling farmers with services, counseling and assistance;
  • $500,000 restoration for Northern New York Agricultural development. The program was eliminated in the governor's budget;
  • $40,000 for research aimed at helping farmers who want to take advantage of the state's growing microbrewing niche, under provisions of a new law sponsored by Senator Ritchie;
  • $1 million each to state apple growers (an increase of $794,000 above the governor), to help farmers who suffered significant weather-related crop loss last year, and for expanded marketing of New York wine and grape products (an increase of $287,000);
  • $125,000 for promotion of New York maple products, representing a restoration of $100,000 and a $25,000 increase from last year;
  • $100,000 restoration to continue the state's highly successful tractor rollover prevention program. Tractor accidents are a leading cause of on-the-farm injuries and fatalities, and funding was eliminated in the governor's budget;
  • $200,000 in new funding to help berry growers combat invasive species that are destroying their crops;
  • $150,000 in new funding for turf growers, and $100,000 in new funding for Christmas tree farmers. New York ranks seventh for Christmas tree production in the US;
  • Increased funding for prevention of rabies, following growing incidences of the disease on farms and among wildlife, and the mosquito-borne EEE virus.


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