Assemblymember Barrett Introduces the Working Farm Protection Act to Make Farmland More Accessible to Working Farmers

Bill A.10301A would strengthen New York’s farmland protection program by funding conservation easements that protect the affordability of land for working farmers

Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-Columbia, Dutchess) was joined in Albany today by The National Young Farmers Coalition, New York Farm Bureau, American Farmland Trust, Scenic Hudson, local farmers and land trusts from around the state to take a stand for farmers with the introduction of the Working Farm Protection Act. The Act would strengthen the State’s Farmland Protection Implementation Grant Program by funding conservation easements that make farmland permanently affordable to working farmers.

“Agriculture has seen a rebirth in the Hudson Valley and New York farms are increasingly feeding our families and stocking our farmers markets and restaurants,” said Assemblymember Barrett. “I have introduced The Working Farm Protection Act, A10301A, to strengthen the existing Farmland Protection Grant Program and help make farmland more accessible to young farmers. I am also pleased to announce that Senator Patty Ritchie (R- Jefferson, Oswego, St. Lawrence), Chair of the State Senate Agriculture Committee, will carry the bill in the Senate. With this bipartisan effort, I am hopeful that we can provide a permanent path to farm ownership for our young farmers during this legislative session.”

The Working Farm Protection Act comes at a critical time as farmland values are on the rise and New York’s agricultural land is being lost to non-farmer owners. According to USDA data, average New York farm real estate prices rose by 124 percent between 1997 and 2016. Non-farmer interest in farmland not only impacts real estate prices, but, according to American Farmland Trust, has also resulted in an estimated loss of three farms per week over the last thirty years.

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Historic Preservation Trades Initiative Launched by Assemblymember Barrett

Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D - Columbia, Dutchess) announced this week a new initiative to train and inspire a new generation of skilled trades people to work on our region’s sizable stock of old and historic buildings. Along with partners at New York State Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation; Dutchess County; Dutchess County Community College; Dutchess BOCES, and the not-for-profit preservation group HistoriCorps, local students are getting hands on experience restoring buildings in the historic Quiet Cove Park site in Poughkeepsie. The county park on land owned by New York State will become a vibrant recreation area with kayak rentals and piers on the water.

Given the tremendous number of historic homes and other sites in the Hudson Valley, this initiative has the capacity to transformation not only Quiet Cove, but also the regional economy as well as the lives of young people who can build a solid career in construction trades with particular expertise in preservation and restoration.

“This initiative is about developing a skilled workforce, attracting and keeping young people and restoring, preserving and maintaining our region’s rich historic legacy,” said Assemblymember Barrett. “With the vast array of historic structures in our region, both public and private, Dutchess County and the Hudson Valley are uniquely positioned to lead the state and nation in historic trades. Training these students now arms them with the technical skills, business knowledge and historic understanding to establish and sustain long careers in this field. I’m so grateful to our visionary partners who brought us to this launch at Quiet Cove.”

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Assemblymember Barrett Calls for Public Forums for Proposed Amtrak Fencing

In the wake of Amtrak’s proposal to construct fencing along portions of the railroad’s Empire corridor along the Hudson River between Rhinebeck and Stuyvesant, Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-Columbia, Dutchess)submitted a letter to the Department of State (DOS) calling on the state to require public hearings to ensure transparency and communication with residents.

“As the Assemblymember representing several of the towns along this route, I join Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson, as well as the Supervisors of Germantown, Livingston, Clermont, Stockport, and Stuyvesant, in their call for Amtrak and the DOS to hold public information meetings in the affected communities,” said Barrett.

DOS originally announced only a two-week public comment period, which would have ended on March 28th. However, after backlash from various communities, DOS agreed to move the public comment period to May 1.

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Assemblymember Barrett: State Budget Boosts Construction Funds for Libraries

Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D - Columbia, Dutchess), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Libraries and Education Technology, announced that the 2018-19 state budget provides a significant increase in funding for library construction grants to help local libraries make much-needed facility upgrades and enhance services. This total of $34 million is an increase of $10 million over last year, and a significant boost in the State’s overall commitment to libraries.

“Our libraries are playing an increasingly critical role in all our communities -- rural, urban and suburban,” Barrett said. “Whether it’s providing internet, workforce prep, homework help or simply fellowship, we need libraries that are accessible and technologically sophisticated to meet the needs of our diverse populations in 21st century New York.”

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Assemblymembers Barrett and Crespo: Fund 2020 Census Programs for Public Libraries in State Budget

As New York State prepares for the 2020 Census, Assemblymembers Didi Barrett (D – Columbia, Dutchess) and Marcos Crespo (D – Bronx) have requested $1 million in the 2018-19 FY budget be appropriated to public library systems across the state for census programming to address potential undercounting. An additional $27 million is requested for the long-term planning and outreach statewide for the 2020 Census. Because billions of dollars in federal aid are tied to the census count and two Congressional seats were lost after the 2010 Census, the results of the upcoming 2020 Census are critical for the level of federal funding and representation New York deserves. Urban and rural areas with immigrant populations have some of the highest numbers of “Hard to Count Areas” and are at risk of once again being undercounted. These areas also tend to be the places where internet access is limited. Additionally, there are real concerns that the current level of federal funding will compromise the fairness and accuracy of the 2020 Census.

 

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Assemblymember Barrett Statement on U.S. Coast Guard Decision Not to Recommend More Anchorage Sites Along Hudson River

“The United States Coast Guard’s decision not to build more anchorage sites at this time is the direct result of advocates and residents fighting for our communities and our majestic Hudson River,” said Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D- Columbia, Dutchess). “Our regional economy, well-being and way of life depend on the health of the Hudson. While we celebrate this report we must also stay vigilant to ensure there are no future anchorage proposals.”


Assemblymember Barrett Requests State Comptroller to Audit Charter’s Broadband Expansion Efforts

Charter refuses to disclose build-out plans for thousands of residents in Columbia County

As residents in Columbia County grow increasingly frustrated over the wait for high-speed broadband service, Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D – Columbia, Dutchess) has requested State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli to audit Charter Communications, Inc. to ensure that the multi-billion dollar telecommunications company is compliant with standards set by the New York State Public Service Commission.

Charter, which merged with Time Warner Cable in 2016, is required to connect all their existing Columbia County systems to 100MBPS broadband within a thirty month period after the merger. However, as a result of questionable non-disclosure agreements made with the Public Service Commission and the Governor’s Broadband Program Office, information on when and where broadband service will be established is scarce and often misleading. As a result, municipalities and residents seeking broadband in areas served by Charter are left frustrated and without useful information as it relates to build-out plans, with only months to go before Charter reaches their mandated deadline.

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Assemblymember Barrett: Repeal of net neutrality will hit New Yorkers, public libraries hard

“As chair of the Assembly Libraries and Education Technology Committee, I am committed to ensuring each and every New Yorker has fair and equal access to the information and resources they need. Many residents, especially those in underserved communities, rely on our public libraries for dependable high-quality internet to look for jobs, connect with family and friends and do homework. Alarmingly, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) unfortunate decision to repeal net neutrality threatens this critical access. Internet service providers (ISPs) will be allowed to charge more for service, making it harder for public libraries, which are already on tight budgets, to provide the quality internet service community members rely on.

“This decision creates barriers to information and harms hardworking consumers, while boosting big telecommunications companies’ profits. It goes against values we hold dear, like fairness, freedom of information and equal opportunity. As we continue to watch this situation unfold, I’ll keep working to protect and strengthen our public libraries, and the communities they serve.”

 


Assemblymember Barrett’s Bill to Safeguard the Hudson River Is Signed into Law

Assemblymember Didi Barrett’s (D - Columbia, Dutchess) legislation asserting the state’s authority over the Hudson River by expanding the criteria used to establish “tanker avoidance zones” beyond existing navigational standards was signed into law today by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. As a result of the legislation, the prospect of a massive expansion of crude oil shipments along the Hudson River will be greatly diminished, thereby safeguarding riverfront communities, drinking water supplies, and significant wildlife habitats. Today’s announcement is a milestone for the future health of the Hudson River and a victory for all those who opposed the U.S. Coast Guard’s proposal to allow large increases in petroleum vessel traffic along a 91-mile stretch between Kingston, Ulster County and Yonkers, Westchester County.

“With this law now in place, the state is in a much stronger position to keep future anchorages from being sited anywhere along the Hudson River. An increase in petroleum tankers would pose a direct threat to coastal fish and wildlife, local drinking water, the safety of waterfront communities, and economic development in our beautiful region,” said Assemblymember Barrett. “This is truly a victory for everyone who voiced their opposition to the Coast Guard’s ill-advised proposal. I thank Scenic Hudson for its partnership and commend the Governor for signing this significant measure to further protect the Hudson River.”

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Poughkeepsie Journal endorses Didi Barrett for State Assembly.

Barrett also has had a long and profound understanding of the importance of farming, environmental protection, tourism and sound land-use policies in the region.

Read the full endorsement at the Poughkeepsie Journal


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