Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, today announced that her provision to guarantee local dairy, fruit and vegetable farmers can sell their products directly to military installations has been included in the conferenced NDAA. This comes following a federal proposal by the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) to consolidate suppliers that would have forced New York’s farmers to ship their products away from New York before being distributed to New York military posts. Gillibrand’s provision requires the Department of Defense to ensure that dairy products, fruits, and vegetables for commissary stores are locally sourced whenever possible to ensure the availability of the freshest possible products. The final, conferenced NDAA is expected to be put to a vote by Congress in coming days.
“New York farmers grow and produce the best dairy, fruit, and vegetables, and it makes sense that our states’ military bases turn to them to supply their commissaries. It was unreasonable that the Department of Defense would consider putting in place a new, inefficient model that would prevent our farmers from selling directly to bases and instead ship products away from our state before they could be shipped back to the men and women on New York’s bases, and that would have hurt our farmers,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The men and women that serve our country and work on our military bases deserve to have the freshest supplies. I’m proud to have secured a provision in this year’s NDAA that prevents this model from being put into place.”
Gillibrand has long been an advocate for New York farmers. She passed a provision in last year’s Farm bill that would refund nearly $60 million in insurance premiums to farmers who paid millions of dollars into an insurance program, the Dairy Margin Protection Program, which did not help them when milk prices dropped. She has also fought to ensure any trade negotiation between Canada and Mexico protects New York dairy farmers against unfair Canadian policies that limit American dairy producer’s access to the Canadian market. She has also called on the Secretary of Agriculture to authorize $300 million in emergency relief funding for dairy farmers in New York and across the country. Additionally, Gillibrand has called for an investigation into the fresh fruit and vegetable market to make sure that New York farmers are receiving fair prices for their products.