NYS Seal


Oral Testimony by Invitation Only


Agriculture and Consumer Affairs and Protection Budget Implementation Hearing


To review state agency implementation of the enacted State fiscal year 2007-08 budget.

Thursday, December 13, 2007
10:00 a.m.
Roosevelt Hearing Room C
Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor

This hearing will review the budget implementation initiatives of state agencies under the jurisdiction of the Assembly Standing Committees on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs and Protection. This hearing will review agency budget policy for State fiscal year 2007-08. Please see the second page of this notice for a list of subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony.

Oral testimony will be by invitation only. Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committees would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements. Written testimony will also be accepted and may be sent to the contact persons listed on the reply form. In order to publicize the hearing further, please inform interested parties of the Committees' interest in receiving written testimony from all sources.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Senate and Assembly, in accordance with their policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Senate and Assembly facilities and activities.

William Magee
Committee on Agriculture

Audrey I. Pheffer
Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protectio


  1. Does the Consumer Protection Board have adequate staff to achieve its mission to protect, educate and represent New York consumers?

  2. The Motor Fuel Marketing Practices Act is set to expire on October 21, 2008. How many complaints has the Consumer Protection Board received since the Act went into effect? How many investigations has the Board initiated under the statute? Does the Board believe the Act should be extended, made permanent, or allowed to expire?

  3. Assembly bill 347-A would require home improvement contractors to register with the Consumer Protection Board and obtain surety bonding or pay into a consumer restitution fund. Does the Board have any comments on this legislation? Can the Board provide an estimate as to how many staff would be needed to administer the program envisioned by this legislation?

  4. What protections, if any, does the Consumer Protection Board think the state should implement to protect consumers who use paid tax preparers in New York State?

  5. Does the Consumer Protection Board support legislation aimed at improving New York's "Rent to Own Program Law" (Article 11 of the Personal Property Law), such as Assembly bill 66-B?

  6. What new initiatives have the Department of Agriculture and Markets undertaken due to the SFY 2007-08 budget? What new initiatives, if any, does the Department anticipate for the SFY 2008-09?

  7. How many new full time positions were created and filled and how many existing vacant lines were filled in SFY 2007-08? Does the Department anticipate any staffing changes in SFY 2008-09?

  8. Given that the New York State Division of Budget is forecasting a $4.3 billion General Fund deficit for the 2008-09 fiscal year gap what are the potential ramifications on the budget for the Department of Agriculture and Markets? Is there an anticipation of job reductions and, if so, in what divisions? Is there an anticipation of funding reductions for agricultural programs?

  9. There has been $40 million allocated for the construction of a new food laboratory. What is the current status of this? Has a decision been made with regard to the location of the new laboratory? What is the timeline for the construction of this new laboratory?

  10. In last year's testimony the Department indicated that it was committed to awarding $20 million to as many as 4 proposals to build and operate a cellulosic ethanol pilot facility in New York State within 3 years. Later in December 2006, the Department and NYSERDA announced a $14.6 million award to Mascoma Corporation, in partnership with Genecor International, to build such a plant in Rochester. What is the status of the construction of that plant, and is it on schedule to be in operation by December of 2009? Is the Department considering additional proposals under this appropriation?

  11. What impact has Chapter 97 of the Laws of 2007, which allows the Department to authorize an additional 30 days for retail food stores to comply with the Food Safety Education Certification Program, had on businesses that have applied for a new Article 20-C license or license renewal? What percentage of retail stores have been granted such extensions, and have such extensions improved the process for certifying designees?

  12. Pursuant to Chapter 527 of the Laws of 2005, the Department was charged with establishing a grants program whereby municipalities could apply for money to assist in the creation of local farmland protection plans. How much funding has the Department made available for these purposes? How many municipalities have applied for this funding and how many projects have been approved?

  13. Chapter 124 of the Laws of 2007 allows municipalities to apply for money to update local farmland protection plans after 10 years. Has the Department received any applications pursuant to this new Chapter, and are the funds appropriated for farmland preservation through the Environmental Protection Fund in SFY 2007-08 sufficient for this additional purpose?

  14. How many pet dealers are currently licensed as compared to this time last year? What new measures have been taken by the Department in the past year to improve the process by which pet dealers and breeders are licensed and inspected as required by law?

  15. The USDA, in the licensing of pet dealers under their jurisdiction, provides a much different definition of pet dealer. Would this definition assist your inspectors with the difficulties the Department has with licensing these individuals? If this change were made, what level of resources would the Department need to ensure compliance with these provisions?

  16. What measures has the Department taken in the past year to increase both pet owner and veterinary participation in the reduced cost spay/neuter program? Is the level of reimbursement rates for veterinarians an obstacle to widespread participation in the program, and what level of additional resources would need to be made available to increase such rates, if necessary, to a level which would stimulate such widespread participation?

  17. Chapter 126 of the Laws of 2007 allows various municipal and nonprofit groups to apply to the Department for state assistance towards promotional support of Farmer's Markets. How many applications has the Department received from those groups for such support, and are the funds appropriated for Farmer's Market support in SFY 2007-08 sufficient for this additional purpose?

  18. In response to the low dairy prices and large dairy farm losses in 2006, the SFY 2007-08 budget included a $30 million appropriation for direct aid to dairy farmers, calculated on a per-hundredweight basis and capped per producer at 4,800,800 pounds of milk produced in 2006. What percentage of eligible dairy farmers participated in this program? What was the ultimate reimbursement per hundredweight for participating producers?

  19. Chapter 249 of the Laws of 2007 expands the Department's inspection powers over beekeepers and apiaries in New York State to include surveys to determine the size and condition of the state's honeybee population. Has the Department initiated such surveys, how comprehensive are they intended to be, and are existing funds in the SFY 2007-08 budget to conduct a comprehensive survey the entire state honeybee population?

  20. The agribusiness child development (ABCD) program received approximately $4.6 million in funding for early childhood education and social services for farm workers. Is this funding adequate for the ABCD program to continue to operate annually?

  21. The New York State Fair consists of approximately 400 acres and nearly 100 structures including 24 main structures, most of which were built during the 1930's. For fiscal years 1996 to 2005, the Fair received over $6 million in funding for preventative maintenance and rehabilitation projects. How would the Department rate the condition of the buildings at the fairgrounds? Is there any consideration being given to providing capital funding to assist with the upgrade of these buildings and their infrastructures?


Persons invited to present testimony at the public hearing on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs and Protection Budget Implementation to be held on December 13, 2007, or who wish to submit written testimony only, are requested to complete and return this reply form to:

Erin Cunningham
Legislative Associate
Alfred E. Smith Office Building
80 South Swan St., Floor 22
Albany, New York 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4355
Fax: (518) 455-725

box I plan to attend the public hearing on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs and Protection Budget Implementation to be conducted by the Assembly Committees on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs and Protection on December 13, 2007.

box I have been invited to make a public statement at the hearing. My statement will be limited to 10 minutes, and I will answer any questions which may arise. I will provide 10 copies of my prepared statement.


I will address my remarks to the following subjects:

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