New York state farms generated $5.7 billion in revenue in 2017, representing an increase of more than 20 percent in net farm income over the precious decade despite a decline in their number and acreage, according to a report released last month by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
While the latest New York state budget increases education funding by $1 billion, advocacy groups are criticizing a failure to adequately ensure equitable education funding across all school districts.
The New York State Legislature approved a $175 billion budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year in the early hours of Monday, April 1, funding a number of priorities outlined by a Democratic party that now controls both legislative chambers as well as the executive branch.
On the last day of the 2019 legislative session, state lawmakers passed the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, granting farm workers long-denied protections. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he will sign the legislation, which opponents argue will cause "irreparable harm" to an industry that is already struggling.
New York state has awarded more than $900,000 to new and early-stage farmers around the state, to help them expand production or advance innovative agricultural techniques that increase sustainability.
A higher percentage of California marijuana products are passing strict safety tests, but the sudden closing of a lab that state authorities found wasn't correctly checking for pesticides has raised new questions about the system intended to protect the purity and potency of legal cannabis. Swetha Kaul, chief scientific officer at Santa Ana-based testing company Cannalysis who sits on the board of the California Cannabis Industry Association, said there are concerns that some companies might not be getting sufficient oversight from regulators, after a company was found to be falsifying test results.
Farmers already reeling from low prices and uncertainty amid the nation's trade dispute with China are welcoming a decision to extend a deadline for federal aid because of the partial government shutdown. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue on Tuesday announced the Agriculture Department would extend a Jan. 15 deadline for farmers to apply for payments to offset losses they had incurred due to the trade dispute, which led to new tariffs that lessened demand and lowered crop prices. About $9.5 billion in direct payments have been set aside for growers of soybeans, corn, wheat and other commodities.
A provision of the farm bill that received final approval in Congress on Wednesday removes hemp from the list of federally controlled substances and treats the low-THC version of the cannabis plant like any other agricultural crop. THC is the cannabis compound that gives pot its high.
The last year was a 12-month champagne toast for the legal marijuana industry as the global market exploded and cannabis pushed its way further into the financial and cultural mainstream. Liberal California became the largest legal U.S. marketplace, while conservative Utah and Oklahoma embraced medical marijuana. Canada ushered in broad legalization, and Mexico's Supreme Court set the stage for that country to follow. With buzz building across the globe, the momentum will continue into 2019.