U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is embarking on a listening tour across New York to hear from dairy farmers, like the one pictured here, about high production costs. She is hearing from farmers before the drafting of the new Farm Bill in 2012. Photo by AP.
April 11, 2011
In an effort to hear the concerns and ideas of New York's agricultural communities, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport, is holding a series of listening sessions over the next several months in anticipation of the 2012 federal Farm Bill.
Gillibrand, the first New Yorker to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years, met with Warren and Saratoga County farmers on April 1 and plans to "focus on key areas of the Farm Bill that will have a major influence on New York, including access to financing, new market opportunities, assistance for specialty crops and investments in renewable energy," said a press release from Gillibrand's office.
"We need to make sure the next Farm Bill is a good deal for New York. I plan to take the next several months to listen to farmers and businesses in every corner of the state and discuss my ideas on how to help farmers survive and prosper in the new economy," said Gillibrand.
One-fourth of New York state consists of farms and the agriculture industry generates nearly $4.5 billion, the senator's office said.
According to the junior senator from New York, dairy farmers are paying more to produce their products than they make from selling them. Gillibrand said she intends to overhaul the pricing system for milk and secure a fair price for producers in order to "make the opaque pricing system more transparent."
"New York is home to the hardest working farm families and the finest locally grown produce in the world," she said. "But outdated regulations and a bad economy are hurting our farmers and farming communities across the state."
Additionally, Gillibrand said she is working with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to protect profit margins for dairy producers and create a new data collection system for end-product pricing.
Other initiatives she is taking on would create more opportunities to supply New York's schools with locally grown produce and the introduction of a new program to the Farm Bill, the Conservation on Muck Soils, to provide assistance to the state's specialty crop farmers.
Gillibrand also said she intends to work toward increasing investments for the Rural Energy for America Program and Rural Energy Self Sufficiency Initiative and also secure Biomass Research and Development Program and Biomass Crop Assistant Program investments for New York state "to harness more of our state's potential to convert biomass and agricultural waste into renewable energy."