Farm Bill

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Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the United States Department of Agriculture to help dairy farmers in central New York sort through the recently passed Farm Bill. During a stop in Chenango County recently, Schumer said the updated milk portion of the bill is good for farmers, but confusing.

publicenergy / Flickr

For farmers in upstate New York, going organic isn’t easy. But one farmer who’s made the switch is happy that the new Farm Bill will make it easier to transition from traditional to organic farming in the future.

Ben Simons has been a dairy farmer in Remsen for two decades. Two years ago, he decided to convert his operation over to an organic dairy.

"Because I did not want to expand my dairy anymore," Simons says. "It was very difficult to stay a small family farm and compete with conventional milk.”

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Rep. Richard Hanna and central New York farmers celebrated the passage of the Farm Bill, with a tour of a Madison County Dairy producer Thursday.  

At the Hood Dairy in Oneida, Hanna ticked off the things in the Farm Bill that will help upstate New York farmers: the five-year bill provides stability for farmers; it transitions farmers to a more modern dairy support program; it expands crop insurance, offers more support for organic farming, and help to young farmers who want to get in the business.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill into law Friday, after four years of failed attempts to pass one. Rep. Richard Hanna says the bill will give economic stability to farmers in the upstate New York.

Hanna toured the Dutch Hill Creamery in Chenango Forks Friday morning and said the new Farm Bill will have a great impact on farmers in the state. And that New York state should focus more on the potential benefits of expanded farming.

Center for Environmental Initiatives

Community members from across western New York came together in Rochester Thursday to address the issue of pollution in the Genesee River, and create an action plan for the immediate future.

The summit, run by the Center for Environmental Initiatives, was spurred by a new study which suggests human activity along the Genesee River Basin is having a direct impact on the water quality in Lake Ontario.

Ian Lamont / Flickr

New York Sen. Charles Schumer says it’s “a good day” for upstate New York farmers now that there is a deal in the House of Representatives and Senate for a Farm Bill.

Congress is expected to begin voting on the bill later today. The five year farm bill, agreed upon in committees on Monday, reduces crop subsidies and increases crop insurance.

Farm Bills were first written during the Great Depression. This latest one took two years of negotiation.

Schumer, a Democrat, says the bill is especially good for small dairy farmers and maple sugar tappers in New York.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The central New York agriculture community got a chance to get the ear of Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) this week, highlighting several areas where action by the federal government could help farmers and food processors do their jobs.

Topic number one on the agriculture agenda is to urge Congress to pass the Farm Bill, that’s been languishing in Congress for two years. Bill Byrne of Byrne Dairy is optimistic as lawmakers seem to be reaching consensus on the dairy policy in the Farm Bill, one of the big sticking points.

Ian Lamont / Flickr

Farmers aren't the only ones worrying about Congress' failure to come to an agreement on the Farm Bill. Syracuse-area Rep. Dan Maffei says partisan politics have gotten in the way, and are hurting Congress' ability to move legislation forward.

Maffei says the Farm Bill, and the legislation connected to it, which includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, should be passed, though both Republicans and Democrats need to compromise on their positions.

Ian Lamont / Flickr

Farmers across New York state converged in central New York for the State Farm Bureau’s annual meeting this week.  According to those at the meeting, the biggest problem these farmers face is too much paperwork.

Doug Kerr / Flickr

While the focus has been on the partial federal government shut down, another important piece of legislation, the federal farm bill, has also expired.

New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton said this is the third time in three years he’s seen negotiations go down to the wire and beyond on farm legislation that regulates crop subsidies, milk prices, and nutrition programs.

"It’s like déjà vu all over again," Norton said in a statement.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

The five year Farm Bill, likely to pass a vote in the U.S. Senate next Monday, includes an amendment from New York Sen. Charles Schumer that attempts to address rising demand for milk.

Schumer says the amendment could help New York’s dairy farmers supply a fast-growing yogurt industry.

It would create a $5 million pilot program aimed at helping small dairy farms access technical help for  things like animal nutrition and business planning.

wander.lust / via Flickr

Congress seems to have reached a deal to stop milk prices from rising to a warned about $6 a gallon in the New Year, but it's unclear if it will be voted on before the end of 2012.

Central New York Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle is concerned that the House of Representatives has not yet passed a farm bill. The current one is scheduled to expire September 30, but Congress is scheduled to finish its work this week and passage of a farm bill does not look likely.

Democrat Congressman Bill Owens from Plattsburgh says passage of the federal farm bill that has stalled in Washington is one of his top priorities.

Doug Kerr / Flickr

New York Senator Charles Schumer called on the House of Representatives to pass a provision of the farm bill that he says would allow more grants and loans for more than 60 rural upstate New York communities.

Ian Lamont / Flickr

Senator Charles Schumer is backing changes to this year’s farm bill that he says would better protect local farmers in the future from damages like those caused by this spring’s frost.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture today declared many upstate New York farms are now eligible for federal aid from those frosts.