The Business Council of New York State opposes the “Buy from the Backyard Act” (S. 831 Libous/A.3302 Peoples-Stokes) which would require all agencies that make food purchases to procure at least 20 percent that were grown, produced, harvested or processed in New York State.
We appreciate the intent of this bill, but regardless of its laudable objectives, we believe it will have adverse consequences on New York agri-business.
New York, along with a majority of other states, has retaliatory reciprocal preference laws designed to promote an open, fair competition and to prevent preferential treatment based solely on where a business is located. This means that a business from a state with an in-state preference law would have their bids in reciprocal states devalued by the rate of preference their resident state gives them during the evaluation process, in this case by 20 percent.
Because of this, The Business Council believes that enacting the “Buy from the Backyard Act” would be detrimental to our state’s agricultural and manufacturing businesses that do business with other states. New York State Finance Law already encourages state agencies to establish food contracts with New York- grown or New York-produced foods and food products, but it does not require it. State Finance Law was also recently amended to allow agencies to buy New York State food products using their discretionary funds. This allows them to avoid the formal competitive procurement process and purchase food products from New York resident businesses without triggering any retaliatory reciprocal procurement laws.
The purpose of this legislation is to promote the use of New York State businesses in the contracting process. There are other ways to achieve this goal that would not require any statutory change or negatively impact these same businesses. Agencies can make certain specifications or requirements in their bid documents that would be more beneficial to an in-state business (e.g. transportation). New York and 36 other states have a retaliatory reciprocal preference laws in place.
Enacting this legislation would hurt New York's business climate more than it would help by severely limiting business opportunities.
For these reasons, The Business Council respectfully opposes this legislation.