Jessica A. Chittenden|
May 30, 2007
Commissioner Declares Bottle Bill Is Good for Farmers
Bill Will Help Protect More Farmland & Enhance Conservation Efforts on Farms
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker joined representatives from New York’s agriculture community to mark the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Bottle Bill and show support for Governor Spitzer’s expanded Bottle Bill proposal.
"The Bottle Bill has been one of New York’s most effective environmental programs, giving New Yorkers an economic incentive to recycle bottles and cans and keeping our rural roads and vistas clean and beautiful," the Commissioner said. "Expanding the Bottle Bill and dedicating unclaimed deposits to the Environmental Protection Fund will allow us to enhance our efforts in protecting viable land and water quality on farms across New York State."
The expanded Bottle Bill would further reduce litter by requiring a five cent deposit on non-carbonated, single-serve containers, such as bottled water, iced tea and juice bottles. Unclaimed deposits are conservatively estimated to be $100 million each year, and are currently kept by bottlers and beverage distributors. Under the expanded Bottle Bill, these unclaimed deposits would be added to the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), which currently receives $225 million a year in state funds. The EPF supports the State’s farmland protection and agricultural environmental stewardship efforts, in addition to other important State environmental programs.
President of the New York Farm Bureau John W. Lincoln said, "Farmers are becoming increasingly frustrated at the presence of litter – especially non-returnable bottles – that line their fields and pose as a health hazard to animals when crops are harvested. To combat these problems, New York Farm Bureau actively supports the enactment of the Bigger Better Bottle Bill, as it would help stem the tide of litter, by including additional beverage containers, such as water and sports drink bottles, in the current return statute. New York Farm Bureau is also very supportive of the Bigger Better Bottle Bill, because it would re-direct the unclaimed deposits to provide revenue to fund farm and other environmental projects."
David Haight, New York Director for American Farmland Trust, said, "Farmers are committed to their land. The expanded Bottle Bill will provide essential funding to protect working farms from poorly planned development and help stem the loss of this valuable resource. Over the last 10 years, New York State has been forced to deny $480 million in requests from farmers for matching funds to help protect their land. These are lost opportunities to support the agricultural economy and maintain a healthy environment."
Dennis Hill, Chair of the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee, said, "It is more important than ever to support the efforts of Soil and Water Conservation Districts who have a long tradition of helping farms remain environmentally sound and economically viable. Resources from an expanded Bottle Bill could provide critically needed funding to help farmers continue to farm cleaner and greener in the globally competitive market."
The State’s Farmland Protection Program has provided $116.7 million to help purchase the development rights on 50,430 acres of viable farmland throughout New York State since 1996. Under the program, the State pays 75 percent of the project, with a 25 percent local share. For every dollar spent thus far to protect farmland, there are nearly four dollars in additional requests that go unfunded every year.
The EPF has awarded over $60 million in assistance to help farmers in their commitment to protect soil and water resources through the State’s Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Program. Funds and technical assistance for conservation projects are provided to farmers through county Soil and Water Conservation District programs. Twice as many farmers are seeking assistance through these programs than are able to receive it, and the need continues to grow. In addition, to stay up to date with evolving agricultural environmental issues and new regulations, Soil and Water Conservation Districts are in need of additional technical expertise and staff to achieve the State’s environmental goals on farms.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary on June 15, the Bottle Bill has been effective in giving New Yorkers an incentive to recycle bottles and cans. Since the program began in 1982, New Yorkers have returned nearly 75 percent of the deposit containers sold, which equates to more than 90 billion containers or $4.5 billion.
2007 Press Releases