Farmers from around the state will lobby state lawmakers Tuesday before state budget talks grow serious to increase funding to support local food production and small family farms grappling with increased costs and green energy mandates. 

Hundreds of members of the New York Farm Bureau kicked off the annual agricultural lobbying effort with a reception in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center on Monday night — showing off dozens of locally produced vegetables, fruits, craft beverages and other products. 

"These are really ways to have these conversations about the importance of New York agriculture," New York Farm Bureau spokesman Steve Ammerman said. "Food matters to all of us. It brings people together."

The group will petition the Legislature to restore millions of dollars in combined agricultural programs that Gov. Kathy Hochul did not include in her budget proposal that boost industry research, development and promotions.

The bureau wants employee housing to be included in the refundable tax credit for farmers — and allow direct consumer marketing for craft breweries and wineries to expand sales.

"They're investments in agriculture, but they're investments in New York and investments in every-day New Yorkers," New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said. "If you look at them from a holistic standpoint... I think any New Yorker could look at them and say 'I benefit from those programs.'"

A Marist Poll last November found 83% of New York adults believe family-owned farms add value to the state economy.

Fisher said Tuesday's agricultural lobby day also connects rural and urban policymakers about solutions that serve the state's diverse agricultural needs.

Bureau leaders said farmers across New York are concerned about electrifying their businesses as the state is mandated to reduce emissions.

Fisher said farmers will need help to pay for new large equipment, some of which may not have a sustainable or green energy model.

"There's a lot of things we just can't make work with electricity at this time, so we're just very concerned," he said. "To make all those changes that quick, the capital is just not there."

Fisher continues to use farming equipment his father bought between 40 and 50 years ago.

Fisher said lawmakers had good intentions with the 2019 Climate Act, but need to revisit the timeline of mandating the transition to electrification and cleaner energy, and the speed of reducing state emissions.

"We want to take a step back and re-evaluate where we're at, what's cost-effective [and] what can the infrastructure we have support before we endorse these green goals that were put forward in the [Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act]?" he said.

Agricultural leaders said they remain deeply concerned about the ability of the state's rural power grid to manage an increased dependence in the coming years.

"We don't have large electric tractors or combines [harvesters]," Ammerman said. "We don't know how to recharge a vehicle in the field in the middle of harvest when it's very time-sensitive and you have to get the work done."

State senators on Tuesday are expected to pass a legislative package to expand the definition of agricultural land use, create a farming hotline and Office of Urban Agriculture, and other incentives to strengthen local food production and farm ownership. Other legislation to be brought to the Senate floor Tuesday will allow interstate and intrastate shipment of hard cider in the state, establish a tax credit for farmers who maximize carbon sequestration and expand regional farmers markets.

“Farmers have long been the backbone of America, consistently playing a vital role in New York state," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a prepared statement. "I take pride in the work of my conference and their efforts to introduce and pass this legislation, which reaffirms our unwavering commitment to those who cultivate our food. Across every corner of New York state, agriculture significantly impacts our lives and economy, and it’s our duty to continuously safeguard and bolster it."