Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand met today in Washington, D.C. with leaders of New York’s Farm Bureau to talk about the challenges facing local farmers and new plans to ensure long term growth of New York’s agricultural economy. Senator Gillibrand is the first New York Senator in nearly 40 years to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Approximately one-quarter of New York is made up of farmland and 42 of New York’s 62 counties are rural. New York’s agriculture sector contributes nearly $4 billion to the state’s economy each year.
“New York’s farmers are the backbone of our economy and we must ensure their success,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The challenges facing rural New York, and the State as a whole, are clear. Getting our economy back on track and finding new ways to create jobs and attract new businesses to New York is my number one priority. Strengthening our farms is a critical part of our economic recovery. We need to do all we can to keep our farms strong and growing to fuel New York for the long-term.”
During these though economic times, New York’s farms and rural communities have been hit hard. Family farmers struggle to remain solvent. Rural communities lack access to broadband and health care services remain unavailable – making it hard for families and businesses to compete and succeed in rural New York.
Senator Gillibrand discussed dairy prices, buy local programs, and other challenges facing New York’s farm families. She spoke of ways to work together to get New York’s agricultural economy back on track with Farm Bureau President Dean Norton of Batavia, Vice President Eric Oom of Chatham, and other leaders of the Farm Bureau.
Senator Gillibrand was a leader in crafting the 2008 Farm Bill – inserting a buy-local amendment to promote local food production in New York, working hard to establish an organic transition fund to help farmers transition from traditional to organic farming, and providing more funding than ever for fruit and vegetable farmers.
While serving in the House of Representatives, Senator Gillibrand also helped lead increased support and expanded opportunities for dairy farmers. The first bill she introduced in Congress was the American Dairy Farmer Protection Act, which called for an increase in the maximum payment under the MILC program.
As a working mother of two young sons, Senator Gillibrand understands what families and businesses are facing in this economy. Senator Gillibrand is a strong voice for New York farms and farm families, committed to getting New York’s agricultural economy growing for the long term.