Agriculture in the tradition of western NY has not been fairly or sufficiently represented in Washington. Over the course of a generation or more, farmers have had to face many challenges, including high state taxes, increased regulations, corporate consolidations, and unfair competition – add to that list the more recent extreme weather events and you understand why we are seeing record numbers of farms in foreclosure.
There has been inadequate protection in our international deals, especially NAFTA, to maintain competitive pricing, particularly in light of countries with whom we trade, such as Canada or China, that employ the use of government-run supply management systems. On the domestic front, I am greatly concerned by the lack of funding and support for the USDA, which is responsible for providing our farmers with the latest research and agricultural strategies to survive and thrive in these turbulent times. We need to make it easier for young people and new farmers to get into farming and find mentors, to access affordable loans and get up to date research on climate change.
This is why I support:
- Expanding the definition of ‘family’ in the New York Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act to include more extended family, which better represents the reality of family farming.
- The passage of HR 3232, the Young Farmer Success Act, which would add include farmers and ranchers as being employed in ‘public service jobs’ for purposes of eligibility for loan forgiveness under the Federal Direct Loan program.
- Fully funding, staffing and supporting the USDA – including their research agencies, which are under attack by the Trump administration.
- Expanding the H2A working visa program to be year-round, instead of seasonal which doesn’t help dairy farmers.
- Increasing broadband connectivity to every farm so that the latest in 21st century technology is available to our farmers, today.
- Finding an immediate end to the trade war and tariffs that are hurting our farmers and limiting their access to foreign markets while exploring other methods and approaches with allied partners around the world to level the playing field between the United States and China.