Mission: Family farmers and their businesses play a major economic role in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. Farmers bring homegrown work, innovation, and ethics―and a remarkable sense of community―to regional economies across our state and the nation. There are more fruit, vegetable, dairy, and wine and grape producers in NY-23 than in any other district, and the annual value of the products those farm families send to market is over $1 billion.
I will work hard to make the federal government a reliable, well-informed partner for those who put food on our tables―especially small and family farmers.
- We must acknowledge the vital contributions of agriculture in NY-23 to the overall economy and to our local communities.
- We must provide assistance when needed and deal actively with high-priority issues such as trade, the agricultural workforce, and the current crisis for small dairy farmers due to the low price of milk on the global market.
- I am dedicated to facilitating productive connections between farm businesses and urban markets, as well as mutually beneficial relationships between the people who produce our food and their fellow New Yorkers who consume it.
Furthermore, I do not support the Farm Bill currently in Congress, for the following reasons:
- The normally transparent, bipartisan markup of the Farm Bill was hijacked by the House Freedom Caucus and turned into an all-GOP proposal meant to cripple SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as “food stamps”). This hijacking precluded constructive debate on how SNAP and many other provisions of the bill might be improved. And then―after all this―the far-right wing of the GOP will still oppose the bill, increasing the likelihood that the bill will fail, while farmers in NY-23 and across the nation wait for a bipartisan Farm Bill that could serve the country well over the next five years.
- The proposed SNAP provisions call for the establishment of punitive work requirements that will necessitate that states create costly, complicated, and unnecessary bureaucracies to monitor those requirements.
- The bill, as proposed, doesn’t do enough to strengthen the Farm Bill safety net needed to address the serious price situation faced by dairy farmers in NY-23. Nor does it deal adequately with the general downturn in farm income nationally.
- While funds for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative would be authorized at 2014 Farm Bill levels ($80 million), $25 million of those funds are earmarked for the citrus industry’s battle against citrus greening, thus significantly cutting support for the research needed by NY-23’s fruit, vegetable, and wine and grape growers. Growers in this congressional district, from the Finger Lakes to Lake Erie, strongly support public research efforts that can provide new technologies and solve diverse agricultural challenges.
- The “Associated Health Plan” component of the proposed bill is a specious attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act―using farmers, who are already struggling, as its hostage guinea pigs.
It is time for Congress to listen to family farmers and genuinely understand the grave challenges that so many face. We need to go back to the drawing board with a renewed commitment to bipartisan cooperation and transparency and get a workable Farm Bill passed this year.