Local Farm Leaders Visit D.C.

Thirteen Finger Lakes-area farm leaders representing New York Farm Bureau recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to voice agricultural concerns to members of Congress. The county Farm Bureau leaders represented Cayuga, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Yates Counties.Farmers met with the offices of U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as Congressmen Michael Arcuri, John Hall, Maurice Hinchey, Chris Lee, Dan Maffei and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. New York Farm Bureau had several action items for the state’s congressional delegation, but the top priorities were comprehensive immigration reform and dairy pricing reform.“Family farms may go out of business for lack of available labor, leaving both farmers and workers without income or profession,” Jonathan Taylor, a member of the New York Farm Bureau Board of Directors, explained to members of Congress about the need for immigration reform. “We need a legal, stable workforce. Timing is everything when you are growing fruits and vegetables, and delays with workers arriving at farms because of various technical issues and logistics is unacceptable. The system is broken.”With New York being the third largest dairy producing state in the country and the dairy economic crisis ongoing, dairy pricing reform was a hot topic with legislators. The current federal pricing structure was established more than 70 years ago and has not been updated to reflect current industry conditions, which left many farmers unable to cover their costs of producing milk last year.“Our dairy farmers are looking to support an initiative that will best serve New York family farms by recognizing regional differences in milk production and markets; providing export opportunity; providing an equitable and transparent pricing mechanism; and responding quickly to global and domestic market signals,” said Cathy Mural, NYFB’s National Affairs Coordinator.The Farm Bureau representatives also talked about issues with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Other issues discussed during the trip included animal care standards, cap and trade, environmental regulations, Indian land trust issues and matters affecting the business climate for farmers.Farmers and members of the public can learn more about New York Farm Bureau and county Farm Bureaus by visiting www.nyfb.org or call the Central New York Regional Office at 315-252-1367.

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