Jessica A. Chittenden|
June 08, 2007
Commissioner Outlines NY’s Federal Farm Bill Priorities
Touts Various Provisions For Upcoming Farm Bill That Will Benefit All NYers
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced the Department’s farm bill priorities after meeting with Congressional members in Washington D.C. yesterday. Addressing issues such as dairy price stability, renewable energy, conservation and specialty crop assistance, the Commissioner emphasized the important role the farm bill will have in securing a viable future for New York agriculture.
"Earlier this year, Governor Spitzer highlighted reauthorization of the federal farm bill as one of the top items on his federal agenda," the Commissioner said, "and we cannot underestimate the impact that federal farm policies will have on our agricultural industry."
"Agriculture occupies a quarter of the State’s land area and contributes immensely to our quality of life by generating economic activity, supporting jobs, and producing wholesome products to nourish our families. Federal farm policies can either seriously help or hinder our producers, and therefore I will be advocating for numerous provisions in the upcoming farm bill, including issues related to energy, nutrition, commodity support and conservation."
The Commissioner was in Washington D.C. yesterday with his state counterparts from the Department of Environmental Conservation and Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to discuss all of the various titles of the farm bill, in addition to other issues facing New York State. Following is a list of provisions that the Department will advocate to be included in the next farm bill.
1. Establish a safety net for dairy prices – by either extending the existing Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program and expanding its cap to 4.8 million pounds, or by establishing a floor price of $15.58 per hundredweight for fluid milk, benefiting dairy farmers throughout the Northeast.
2. Enhance conservation programs – by increasing funding and improving programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, making them more advantageous for New York’s farmers and land owners.
3. Increase support for specialty crops – through increased funding for block grants, technical assistance that addresses trade barriers, research to advance plant breeding genetics and the Market Access Program.
4. Create renewable energy opportunities – addressing both the supply and demand sides of the energy equation, increasing the renewable fuels standard, creating incentives for cellulosic ethanol production and biofuel feedstock production, and increased funding for biofuels research and development.
5. Improve nutrition programs – by ensuring that New York receives its fair share of the benefits provided by the Food Stamp Program and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, as well as expanding our schools’ ability to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program.
6. Increase funding for organics – to allow for research and data collection at the national level that will assist in adequately implementing crop insurance and other production oriented programs.
7. Create a separate forestry title – that will provide technical, educational and outreach assistance to private forest landowners through existing efforts like the Forest Stewardship Program.
The farm bill is an omnibus multi-year authorizing law for major food and farm programs on the federal level. The current farm bill, the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, will expire in 2007, necessitating Congress to reauthorize it.
New York agriculture encompasses 25 percent of the State’s landscape and generated $3.6 billion for our economy last year. Currently, New York State has 7.5 million acres of farmland with 35,000 farms.
Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, was just one of the Congressional representatives Commissioner Hooker met with yesterday to discuss the Department’s priorities for the upcoming farm bill. The Commissioner also met with Senator Hillary Clinton, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Congressman Maurice Hinchey and Congressman John "Randy" Kuhl Jr.
2007 Press Releases