New York Agriculture & Markets Law
General Powers and Duties of Department
The department through the commissioner shall have power to:
1. Execute and carry into effect the laws of the state and the rules of the department, relative to agriculture, horticulture, farm, fruit, and dairy products, aquaculture, and the production, processing, transportation, storage, marketing and distributing of food; enforce and carry into effect the provisions of the laws of the state relative to weights and measures.
2. Aid in the promotion and development of the agricultural resources of the state and the improvement of the conditions of rural life; the improvement of the fertility and productiveness of farm lands and the restoration to fertility and productiveness of unoccupied and unproductive land; the settlement of farms and the supply of farm labor; the stocking of farms with meat-producing and dairy animals and promoting the production of cereals, fruits and vegetables, and co-operate with county farm bureaus, and with agricultural, dairying and horticultural associations or corporations and other agencies organized for any or all of such purposes. 2-a. Aid in the promotion and marketing of finfish and shellfish derived from commercial fishing or aquacultural activities and cooperate with fishing and aquaculture associations or corporations organized for any or all such purposes. 2-b. Aid in the promotion, marketing, and sale of New York state labelled wines, grapes and grape products in cooperation with the department of economic development both within and outside the state and to provide promotion and marketing advisement to wineries, farm wineries, micro-wineries, grape and other fruit growers and processors, and related trade organizations located within this state. 2-c. Aid in the export promotion and marketing of eligible agricultural products, in cooperation with the department of economic development. 2-d. Coordinate with the office of general services and the department of economic development to provide a training program once per year, in each economic development region, established in article eleven of the economic development law, to encourage and increase participation in the procurement process, pursuant to article eleven of the state finance law, by small businesses, as defined in section one hundred thirty-one of the economic development law, including farms, selling food or food products grown, produced, harvested, or processed in New York state and assist such businesses in identifying such food or food products, which may help to meet state agencies’ needs. The departments and office may also invite to the regional training programs representatives of local governments, including school districts, that may be interested in purchasing New York state food products. 2-e. Develop, and update, guidance and other information to:
(i) assist county legislative bodies, agricultural and farmland protection boards and departments in creating and reviewing agricultural districts pursuant to sections three hundred three, three hundred three-a and three hundred three-b of this chapter; and
(ii) assist the commissioner of taxation and finance to support training of assessors and any other local government officials who have responsibility for agricultural assessment and taxation.
3. Investigate the cost of food production and marketing in all its phases.
4. Investigate the sources of food supply for the state, the production, transportation, storage, marketing and distribution of food sold, offered for sale, stored or held within the state, the cost of transportation to the leading centers of population and of distribution to consumers.
5. Collect and disseminate accurate data and statistics as to the food produced, stored or held within the state, the quantities available from time to time and the location thereof, and so far as practicable and available collect such like statistics from without the state, as are of value to producers and consumers within the state. 5-a. Establish an information network between agricultural producers and consumers to facilitate and promote the direct marketing of New York farm products. The commissioner may publicize such direct marketing information network. He may compile information voluntarily provided by farmers and growers who desire to sell farm products directly to consumers, and distribute such information, in the manner he deems appropriate, to food buying cooperatives, governmental agencies, community service organizations, the bureau of government-donated foods distribution in the office of general services, the cooperative extension service, and to any person requesting such information. 5-b. (a) Establish, in cooperation with the commissioner of education, a farm-to-school program to facilitate and promote the purchase of New York farm products by schools, universities and other educational institutions under the jurisdiction of the education department. The department shall solicit information from the education department regarding school districts and other educational institutions interested in purchasing New York farm products, including but not limited to, the type and amount of such products schools wish to purchase and the name of the appropriate contact person from the interested school district. The department shall make this information readily available to interested New York farmers, farm organizations and businesses that market New York farm products. The department shall provide information to the education department and interested school districts and other educational institutions about the availability of New York farm products, including but not limited to, the types and amount of products, and the names and contact information of farmers, farm organizations and businesses marketing such products. The commissioner shall report to the legislature on the need for changes in law to facilitate the purchases of such products by schools and educational institutions. The department shall also coordinate with the education department, and school food service, education, health and nutrition, farm, and other interested organizations in establishing a promotional event, to be known as New York Harvest For New York Kids Week, in early October each year, that will promote New York agriculture and foods to children through school meal programs and the classroom, at farms and farmers’ markets and other locations in the community. (b) Cooperate with the department of health in implementing the childhood obesity prevention program pursuant to title eight of article twenty-five of the public health law and with the commissioner of education to encourage the production and consumption of fresh locally produced fruits and vegetables by elementary and secondary school aged children pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subdivision to help combat the increasing incidence of childhood obesity. (c) Cooperate with federal, other state and municipal agencies to encourage the expansion of community gardens pursuant to article two-C of this chapter to help encourage the production and consumption of fresh locally produced fruits and vegetables to help combat the increasing incidence of adult and child obesity.
6. Investigate and recommend useful methods of co-operative production, marketing and distribution of foods within the state.
7. Aid in the organization and operation of co-operative associations and corporations among producers and consumers of farm products, and also aid in the organization and operation of co-operative associations, corporations or other agencies for the purpose of increasing the production, improving the quality, grading or bringing together of farm products for wholesale marketing. 7-a. Call conferences of co-operative associations of producers of farm products organized under or subject to the provisions of chapter seventy-seven of the consolidated laws for discussion of cost of production, transportation and marketing, of market conditions and prices for sale of farm products to the end that the marketing operating operations for such co-operative associations may be facilitated, made more efficient and the producers may obtain the reasonable cost of production, plus cost of compliance with sanitary regulations affecting production or marketing. Such conferences shall be held under the supervision of the commissioner. Neither such conferences nor any agreements or arrangements resulting therefrom, if such agreements or arrangements are approved by the commissioner, shall be deemed or construed to be acts, conspiracies, agreements or arrangements in restraint of trade or commerce or injurious to public welfare. The powers hereby conferred may also be exercised in conjunction with officials or representatives of the federal government.
8. Co-operate with and aid farmers and other producers of food, and distributors and consumers thereof, in improving and maintaining economic and efficient systems of production, storage, distribution and marketing, and in reaching advantageous markets. The commissioner may develop, coordinate and conduct programs for advertising, publicity and general promotion of agricultural and food products grown, processed, packed or otherwise made within the state. The commissioner may establish a voluntary program for the improvement of direct marketing of New York farm products at roadside farm markets. The commissioner may adopt a word or symbol to identify roadside markets participating in such program, advertise and publicize the roadside farm market program, and provide technical and promotional assistance to effectuate said program. The commissioner may charge fees for the sale or use of promotional materials or items, and any income derived from such programs shall be deposited in a special account of the farm products publicity fund established under section one hundred fifty-six-i of this chapter. Any expenses incurred in the conduct of such programs may be paid out of such account on vouchers approved by the commissioner, after audit by the comptroller.
9. Acquire and disseminate accurate information as to market prices of food products, and market conditions, in the markets of the state and any other markets, through use of department market reporters, or agreements with organized groups of producers or shippers or dealers in farm produce for the joint employment of market reporters, or special arrangements with existing market reporting agencies, when in the judgment of the commissioner such information will be valuable to the producers or consumers of the state.
10. Acquire and publish useful information to facilitate transportation, to avoid delays therein and upon request advise shippers or purchasers as to the most direct and expeditious route of shipment to market.
11. Co-operate with the commissioner of transportation with the view of obtaining suitable, expeditious and economical facilities for the shipment of food, and recommend as to the action to be taken by such commissioner to avoid and prevent unfair discrimination in such shipment and unreasonable delay in the transportation thereof, and to obtain fair and reasonable rates for such transportation.
12. Investigate delays in transportation, and in case food is likely to spoil for lack of ready market, take such action as seems advisable for facilitating the sale thereof.
13. Investigate restraints of trade or unlawful combinations to fix prices.
14. Investigate as to the needs of terminal, dock and other distributing facilities for the delivery and distribution of foods at the centers of population, and the establishment and operation of co-operative or public abattoirs for the slaughter of animals and poultry for food purposes; and advise and co-operate with corporations and municipalities or other agencies to promote their establishment, construction or acquisition for the public use and make recommendations as to the conduct thereof.
15. Advise and co-operate in establishing local markets, and warehouses for assembling, grading, packing and storing food or farm products, whenever in the judgment of the commissioner the public interests require such establishment.
16. Co-operate with producers in the conduct of experiments and disseminate information as to producing, assembling, grading, packing, distributing and selling farm products, so as to demonstrate economic and efficient methods, and to standardize the grades of such products and determine the cost of such production, assembling, grading, packing, distribution and sale.
17. Investigate plans to be established by law for the purpose of securing an ample supply of pure milk in centers of population upon an economic basis of distribution and to aid in the accomplishment of such purpose within the provisions of existing law.
18. Ascertain the names and addresses of producers, manufacturers, importers, exporters and potential exporters and distributors of food, the kind of food produced, manufactured, imported, exported or to be exported or distributed by such persons, and to publish the same whenever in the judgment of the commissioner public interests require or, upon request, when in the public interest, supply lists of such persons.
19. Make such recommendations as in the judgment of the commissioner will stimulate and increase the production or distribution or sale of food and co-operate with public or private agencies for that purpose.
20. Act as mediator or arbitrator in any controversy or issue that may arise between producers and distributors of food.
21. Investigate, when deemed advisable, the conduct and methods of exchanges and boards of trade within the state for the purchase and sale of food.
22. Collect and publish data concerning the purity, wholesomeness, economic value and the nutritious and hygienic properties of food produced, sold or available for sale within the state, and for such purpose to take, examine and analyze samples of such food.
23. Investigate deceptions in the quality, quantity or character of foods produced, stored, sold or offered for sale within the state, including the adulteration and misbranding thereof.
24. Co-operate with local health departments and other local agencies in preventing the production, manufacture, sale or offering for sale of fraudulent, deleterious or unwholesome food. The commissioner may contract with any such local health department or other local agency for the performance of inspections with respect to any food or other product over which he has jurisdiction, powers and duties under the provisions of this chapter.
25. Inspect and determine the grade or condition of farm products at shipping points and receiving centers, and provide for the issuance of certificates of such inspections and enter into co-operative arrangements with state and federal marketing agencies for joint inspections. The commissioner shall require and receive the payment of fees for such inspection services in amounts not exceeding the estimated cost of the services. The commissioner shall remit to the state treasurer such fees received monthly. 25-a. Inspect and determine the grade or condition of farm products, issue certificates of such inspections and provide quality control services for growers, canners, processors, packers, shippers, sellers, buyers, retailers and receivers upon request therefor; enter into cooperative arrangements with state and federal agencies, or persons or organizations authorized by a federal agency to conduct farm products inspections, for joint inspections; enter into contracts with applicants for such inspections and services, which contracts shall require payment by applicants of the full costs of the services provided. All moneys received by the commissioner pursuant to such contracts shall be deposited in an account within the miscellaneous special revenue fund and shall be used to defray the expenses incidental to carrying out the powers and duties authorized by this subdivision. The state’s financial contribution to the pest control compact adopted pursuant to section one hundred forty-nine of this chapter may be paid out of the portion of said moneys received by the commissioner for phytosanitary inspections. All moneys shall be paid out of such fund on vouchers approved by the commissioner, after audit by the comptroller. Nothing contained in this subdivision shall apply to fees received for inspections performed under subdivision twenty-five of this section. 25-b. Require and receive the payment of a fee of fifty dollars for the issuance of certificates of compliance with the food related provisions of this chapter and the regulations promulgated pursuant thereto. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the commissioner is hereby authorized and directed to deposit all money received pursuant to this subdivision in an account within the miscellaneous special revenue fund. 25-c. The commissioner may enter into a contract or cooperative agreement under which laboratory services of the department may be made available to federal, state, local, and educational entities when, in the commissioner’s judgment, such contract or cooperative agreement shall be in the public interest and shall not adversely affect the department’s obligations under this chapter. Such contracts or cooperative agreements shall require payment by contractors and cooperators of, at a minimum, the full costs of the services provided. All moneys received by the commissioner pursuant to such contracts and agreements shall be deposited in an account within the miscellaneous special revenue fund and shall be used to defray the expenses incidental to carrying out the services authorized by this subdivision. 25-d. The commissioner may enter into a contract or cooperative agreement under which services relating to food safety and inspection, animal health, invasive species control, the collection of samples for research studies and similar services relating to the duties and responsibilities of the department may be made available to federal entities, educational entities located outside of the state, and state and local governmental entities located outside of the state, when, in the commissioner’s judgment, such contract or cooperative agreement shall be in the public interest and shall not adversely affect the department’s obligations under this chapter. Such contracts or cooperative agreements shall require payment by contractors and cooperators of, at a minimum, the full costs of the services provided. All moneys received by the commissioner pursuant to such contracts and agreements shall be deposited in an account within the miscellaneous special revenue fund and shall be used to defray the expenses incidental to carrying out the services authorized by this subdivision.
26. Investigate and take action to prevent illegal acts or practices in the sale or distribution of food or of fertilizers, feeding stuffs, materials, apparatus and machinery or other instrumentalities used or needed for the production, marketing and distribution of food.
27. Seize, destroy or denature so that it cannot thereafter be used for food, any unwholesome food or food products sold or exposed for sale on the markets of this state, or any food or food products consisting in whole or in part of any filthy, decomposed or putrid animal or vegetable substance, or any portion of an animal unfit for food, whether manufactured or not, or if it is the product of a diseased animal or one that has died otherwise than by slaughter. Provided, however, that the commissioner of agriculture and markets after seizure and before such destruction, shall give the owner, proprietor or custodian of such food ten days notice in writing, to be served either personally or by mail, of a hearing for the said owner, proprietor or custodian to show cause why such food should not be destroyed in accordance with the provisions of the statute.
28. Provide for holding a state fair to be known as the New York state fair and, for the purpose of seeking advice and counsel in relation thereto, consult with the state fair advisory board. The advisory board shall consist of eleven members appointed by the governor, including one member on the recommendation of the temporary president of the senate; one member on the recommendation of the speaker of the assembly; one member on the recommendation of the minority leader of the senate; and one member on the recommendation of the minority leader of the assembly. The governor shall select a member of the advisory board to serve as chairperson. The members of the advisory board shall not receive compensation for their services, but may be paid their actual and necessary expenses incurred in serving upon the advisory board.
29. All the functions of the former department of farms and markets, of the former council of farms and markets and of the former commissioner of farms and markets and all their powers and duties, which were transferred to the department of agriculture and markets by section two hundred and seventy-two of the state departments law or shall have been prescribed by law when this subdivision as hereby enacted takes effect, whether in terms vested in such department, in such council or in such commissioner or in a committee, member or officer thereof, and all the functions of the former council of agriculture and markets and the commissioner of agriculture and markets and all their powers and duties which shall have been prescribed by law when this subdivision, as hereby amended, takes effect, whether in terms vested in such council or in such commissioner or in a committee, member or officer thereof, shall continue to be vested in the department of agriculture and markets and shall continue to be exercised and performed therein by or through the commissioner of agriculture and markets or the appropriate division, bureau, board or officer thereof as prescribed by or pursuant to law, together with such functions, powers and duties as hereafter may be conferred or imposed upon such department by law. All the provisions of this chapter shall apply to the department of agriculture and markets continued by this chapter as hereby amended and to the commissioner of agriculture and markets and to the divisions, bureaus and officers of such department, in so far as such provisions are not inconsistent with this subdivision.
30. Investigate, inspect and supervise the sale and exposure for sale of meat and meat preparations and enforce the provisions of sections two hundred one-a, two hundred one-b and two hundred one-c of this chapter relating thereto, designate an employee of the department as “director of kosher law enforcement” and to make such rules and regulations imposing such additional requirements and restrictions upon such sale and exposure for sale as may be deemed necessary in connection with or in aid of the proper administration and enforcement of such provisions and of any other applicable laws. 30-a. Whenever under this chapter a person may elect to petition therefor, the commissioner may in his discretion establish inspection of petitioner’s meat by-products or meat food products, and shall determine the actual cost of inspection thereof and shall require and receive quarterly the pre-payment of fees for such inspection services in amounts not exceeding the actual cost. The commissioner shall establish in the name of such petitioner an inspection fund to maintain such inspection services and any unexpended funds which may remain over and above the amount needed for such inspection or service shall be paid to the petitioner at the close of each fiscal year.
31. Adopt, promulgate and make effective plans, rules and orders with respect to the furnishing of care for children under fourteen years of age, including children temporarily within the state, whose parent or parents are seasonally or temporarily employed by canners, growers and processors of foods and foodstuffs, and to expend or allocate moneys for such purposes out of moneys appropriated to the department on such terms and conditions as he may deem proper provided that he finds such action is necessary in order to maintain an adequate supply of labor or to avoid waste in the growing, harvesting and processing of food. The commissioner is authorized to enter into contracts approved by the attorney-general, the state comptroller and the director of the budget with non-profit membership corporations providing such care. Such contracts shall specify the terms and standards of operation and shall limit the total financial responsibility of the state to a specified sum which shall not exceed the amount appropriated for such purpose.
32. Receive and disburse federal moneys allotted to the state by or pursuant to the federal agricultural marketing act of nineteen hundred forty-six as amended, or any other act of the congress making appropriation for the allocation among the states for research into basic laws and principles relating to agriculture and to improve and facilitate the marketing and distribution of agricultural products, and for any other purpose relating to agriculture or marketing agricultural products; on behalf of the state, to adopt, execute and administer plans and to put into effect such measures as may be necessary for research into basic laws and principles relating to agriculture and to improve and facilitate the marketing and distribution of agricultural products; on behalf of the state, to make and execute such contracts, agreements, covenants or conditions, not inconsistent with law, as may be necessary or required by any duly constituted agency of the federal government as a condition precedent to receiving such funds or in connection with such research; to cooperate with all federal, state or local authorities, or other agencies, authorized under such acts of congress to carry out the purposes thereof; to adopt and from time to time to amend such rules and regulations and to prescribe such conditions, not inconsistent with law, as may be necessary to make available to the people of the state the benefits afforded by such acts of congress; and to enforce all the provisions of this subdivision and the rules adopted pursuant hereto. The department of taxation and finance is designated as custodian of all federal-aid funds allotted to the state for the purposes of this subdivision by the United States and such funds shall be payable only on the audit and warrant of the comptroller on certificate of the commissioner as provided in section one hundred ten of the state finance law.
33. Require each applicant for a license, permit or registration or renewal thereof authorized to be issued by the commissioner under the provisions of this chapter to satisfy the commissioner that such applicant is or will be in compliance with all ordinances or local laws of the county, city, town and village in which such business or occupation will be conducted bearing thereon. The commissioner’s approval of an application shall not, however, be construed in any way as certifying that such ordinances or local laws have been complied with.
34. Contract with Cornell university or the New York state veterinary college at Cornell for the planning, design and construction of an animal disease diagnostic laboratory at the state veterinary college at Cornell university.
35. Investigate, inspect, and supervise all sanitary aspects relative to the production, processing, sale and distribution of milk and milk products.
36. Require that a written instrument submitted pursuant to this chapter or a rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto contain a form notice to the effect that false statements made therein are punishable pursuant to section 210.45 of the penal law or, where the commissioner deems necessary, require that any such instrument be subscribed under oath.
37. Provide for the operation of the state soil and water conservation committee pursuant to the soil and water conservation districts law.
38. Establish and maintain a statewide registry of brands for livestock owners to voluntarily register the brand they use to brand their livestock.
39. (a) Establish a program in the state for the planning, design and implementation of integrated pest management. Under such a program the department may contract with Cornell university or the New York state college of agriculture and life sciences at Cornell university, and shall encourage such contractor to seek federal and private sources of funds for such program. The department shall submit a quinquennial report of such integrated pest management program to the governor, the senate finance committee and the assembly ways and means committee on or before January first, two thousand seven and on or before January first of each fifth year thereafter. Such report shall include, but not be limited to:
i. an identification of all revenue sources, including non-state funds, and an identification of expenditures made within each agricultural production area, as described in article eleven of this chapter; ii. an evaluation and description of the status of implementation with each agricultural production area and the achievements of each objective outlined in such article eleven made in the previous five years; and iii. the overall status of the program and multi-year timetable for the future implementation of the program. (b) Between report due dates, the department shall maintain the necessary records and data to satisfy such report requirements and to satisfy information requests received from the governor, the senate finance committee and the assembly ways and means committee, between such report due dates.
40. Establish and administer, together with the state soil and water conservation committee and the Cornell cooperative extension, a voluntary program to encourage agricultural environmental planning and implementation. The program shall promote farming practices which are compatible with state water quality and other environmental objectives, and may include training and certification of agricultural planners; educational outreach to producers of farm products; technical and financial assistance to farm operators; consultation and coordination with federal, state and local agencies; and periodic evaluation and assessment of program effectiveness.
41. (a) Establish and maintain New York state domestic animal health assurance programs, voluntary, on-farm, integrated disease prevention programs, directed at improving animal health and promoting a safe and wholesome food supply. Such programs may include but are not limited to the New York state cattle and horse health assurance programs. To carry out such programs, the department may contract with public, private and academic entities and shall encourage such entities to seek federal and private sources of funds for such programs. (b) Any proprietary farm protocol, animal or herd testing information and/or producer herd data maintained in confidence and voluntarily provided by an owner or operator of a farm operation as defined in section three hundred one of this chapter to participate in a voluntary cattle health program established pursuant to this subdivision shall be exempt from public disclosure. The submission of any such information or records by the owner or operator of a farm operation does not constitute a waiver of any applicable privilege or protection under federal or state law. (c) The exemption described in paragraph (b) of this subdivision shall not apply to: (1) information collected or created as part of a federal, state, or local health agency investigation or official action taken in connection with a public health risk; and (2) records that do not identify and cannot be used to discern the identity of any participating farm.
42. (a) For purposes of making timely determinations and consulting with the chairman of the state liquor authority pursuant to subdivision five of section seventy-six-a of the alcoholic beverage control law, investigate and compile information relative to natural disasters, acts of God, or continued adverse weather conditions which shall affect the crop of grapes or other fruit products used in the production of wine. (b) For purposes of making timely determinations and consulting with the chairman of the state liquor authority pursuant to subdivision eleven of section fifty-one-a of the alcoholic beverage control law, investigate and compile information relative to natural disasters, acts of God, or continued adverse weather conditions which shall affect the necessary ingredients for brewing beer. (c) For purposes of making timely determinations and consulting with the chairman of the state liquor authority pursuant to subdivision twelve of section fifty-one-a and subdivision eleven of section fifty-eight-c of the alcoholic beverage control law, investigate and compile information relative to natural disasters, acts of God, or continued adverse weather conditions which shall affect the crop of apples used in the production of cider.
43. Cooperate with the department of environmental conservation and the environmental facilities corporation to establish methods to facilitate loans to New York state’s agricultural community, to develop educational materials for farmers about the low-interest loans available through the water pollution control linked deposit program, and to develop an application form to be provided to lenders for linked deposit loan requests. The department may promulgate rules and regulations necessary and reasonable for the operation of the program.
44. Encourage and support the practice of forestry and manufacture of wood products in the state, in coordination with the departments of environmental conservation and economic development; and provide for the operation of the wood products development council as established in section two hundred twenty-five of this chapter.
45. When considering plans, policies, regulations and programs pursuant to article fourteen of this chapter, the commissioner shall take into consideration the impact on the horticulture and other plant based industries in the state of New York, including but not limited to greenhouse, nursery, and fruit and vegetable production.
46. Within the amount of monies appropriated or otherwise made available therefor, establish, administer and operate, or provide for the administration and operation of, a program, which may include establishment of a revolving loan fund, to assist in the development, implementation and operation of agricultural programs.
47. Evaluate, in conjunction with the state office for the aging, programs and services offered by the department to ensure that they support the needs of farmers, and other individuals engaged in agriculture, and the production, processing, marketing and distributing of food, who are also seniors, which shall mean an individual sixty years of age or older.
48. Make available in written and electronic medium, in a manner readily accessible to police agencies and officers and district attorneys, information about animal cruelty and protection laws in this chapter, including, but not limited to, article twenty-six of this chapter. The development of such information shall be coordinated with the division of criminal justice services, including the municipal police training council, in a manner designed to enhance training of municipal police officers and to assist such officers and district attorneys in enforcing and applying such laws.