New York's agriculture sector paid out nearly $1 billion in wages and generated an estimated $3.3 billion in gross domestic product last year -- making it one of the most resilient areas of the state's economy during the pandemic, according to a report released on Wednesday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office.
The report was released as the New York State Fair highlighting agriculture and farming the state is kicking off. But it also comes as farmers are pushing back against the expected approval of a lower hourly overtime threshold that will be phased in over the next decade and subsidized with a tax credit.
Despite those headwinds and the continued uncertainty from farming, agriculture has lost only 1% of its jobs in 2020 compared to the statewide annual loss of employment of 8.7%, DiNapoli's report found. Employment and pay grew in 2021 to reach a record high of 23,868 workers.
“Agriculture supports jobs and communities throughout New York,” DiNapoli said. “In addition to the growth in employment and wages in the sector, local farms contributed to the food security in their communities during the COVID pandemic as disrupted supply chains left shelves empty in many places. Agriculture, particularly the family farm, is vital to New York’s health and economy. Many of our farms face significant challenges to their bottom line, making it important for the state to ensure that this sector continues to thrive.”
Dairy and milk production remain the largest commodity, ranking fifth in sales. New York is also among the top producers in apples, maple syrup, wine and grapes. About 9% of New York's agricultural revenue comes from crops grown for animal feed.
There are more than 33,000 farms in the state, with more than a fifth of land being used for farming purposes.