Democrat Congressman Bill Owens from Plattsburgh says passage of the federal farm bill that has stalled in Washington is one of his top priorities.
During the first debate of the campaign with challenger Republican Matt Doheny, Owens -- who sits on the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee -- said the bill includes important price supports for dairy farmers in his North Country district.
"That to me is the most compelling issue that we face. It's one that farmers talk to me about all the time," said Owens. "There is tremendous concern about the fact that we have not got the farm bill to the floor. There is concern that we have various programs that are expiring September 30. There's a lack of certainty about what that means, what will be in a continuing resolution."
Conservative groups have opposed passage of the farm bill and this summer Republican House Speaker John Boehner described dairy price supports as "Soviet."
But speaking last night, Doheny, from Watertown, said he supports the farm bill and has urged Boehner to pass it.
"He clearly knows where I stand on the bill. He clearly understands that it's important for this district. We need to have a level of certainty and finality to go forward for the next five years," said Doheny. "Even my opponent, Mr. Owens, has said, it's not perfect. We can continue to revise and amend and take care of things that don't work. But right now we can't revert back to the 1930s or early '40s."
Doheny and Owens met in the town of Greenwich in an hour-long session hosted by the Washington County Farm Bureau. Green Party candidate Donald Hassig didn't take part in the forum.