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Impact of new farm bill on New York State

By Jane Bollinger
February 5, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC — Congress has passed a new five-year farm bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act, and while Rep. Chris Gibson (R-19) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) are touting the benefits of a new law for New York State farmers, New York’s Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) voted against it because of cuts to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) food stamps program, now called the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, for short.

In a statement provided on Tuesday after the Senate’s vote. Sen. Gillibrand said, “Only in Washington could a final bill that doubles the already egregious cuts to hungry families, while somehow not creating any additional savings than originally proposed, be called progress. This bill will result in less food on the table for children, seniors and veterans who deserve better from this Congress, while corporations continue to receive guaranteed federal handouts. I could not vote for it on the Senate floor.”

U.S. Sen. Charles E. “Chuck” Schumer, however, praised the bill in a statement last week, crediting it with having provisions that would provide “major victories” for the state’s farmers.

“Ensuring the Farm Bill’s passage is of the utmost importance to New York, because it maintains or grows scores of programs for Upstate New York dairy, fruit and vegetable farmers, maple syrup producers and even New York jewels like Hickey Freeman,” Schumer said. “While the bill does not contain everything that we fought for, it is ultimately a win for the farmers that are the heart of Upstate New York: it will not only pay large dividends down the road, but also delivers immediate certainty for our farmers at a time that they need it.”

Taking credit for authoring some of the Farm Bill’s provisions, Gibson indicated, “My language overhauls the safety net program for dairy farmers, encourages the growth and sustainability of local and regional agriculture and organic farming, protects conservation programs and helps beginning farmers access the capital they need to enter the field. For our rural communities, we protected and improved the rural broadband loan program once again and we also make reforms to better address Lyme disease, a public health scourge in our area...

“For Kingston, which is an integral part of the agricultural economy because of the rural nature of Ulster County, its farmers markets, restaurants, and other attributes, the bill expands eligibility for rural development programs for the city.”