The month of June is celebrated throughout the country as “Dairy Month”, and I cannot think of folks more deserving of our recognition than the hardworking family farmers here in New York State. Speaking as someone who is proud to call our Finger Lakes region home, I have always felt a strong connection to our community’s family farms and am continually impressed by their daily dedication to this way of life. It is a life that begins well before dawn each day and never slows down. New York’s family farmers are some of the hardest working people you will ever meet and are the true backbone of our state’s economy.
In honor of New York’s dairy farmers, producers and providers, I hosted, along with the Assembly Minority Conference and Members from the Assembly Majority Conference, our annual Dairy Day celebration in Albany last week. It was a terrific event that again showcased a true cross section of New York’s dairy industry, including the New York Farm Bureau; Northeast Dairy Foods Association; and American Dairy Association and Dairy Council. Dairy farms and distributors provided delicious free samples of their award-winning, nutritious products. Our Conference and I appreciate and thank them for their continued support for, and participation in, our Dairy Day festivities.
RAISE A GLASS OF MILK FOR NY’S HARDWORKING FAMILY DAIRY FARMERS
According to the State Department of Agriculture & Markets, we have many reasons to raise a cold glass of milk and toast our tireless dairy farmers. New York is the nation’s third-largest dairy state with 5,400 dairy farms and over 100 dairy processing plants. Last year alone, our hardworking dairy farms produced – are you ready for this – 716 million pounds of cheese; 171 million pounds of cottage cheese; 15 million pounds of butter; 225 million pounds of yogurt and 37 million gallons of ice cream. Now that’s a lot of dairy!
Aside from their tremendous financial contribution to our state, family farming has been, and must remain, a vital part of New York’s cultural heritage. As Assemblyman for the 129th District, I am honored to represent our dedicated family farmers in Albany and fight for their interests across the state. I have voted for, and sponsored, many non-partisan legislative initiatives that will help protect and preserve our family farms and will continue standing up for New York State’s strong farming tradition.
The good news is that we can all support our New York family farms by purchasing milk and other local dairy products that are produced and sold right here in our state. Eating more locally produced fresh ice cream is a personal sacrifice that I am confident many New Yorkers are more than willing to make!
ENFORCE THE LAW, COLLECT THE TAX – NOW!
At the time of this column’s writing, the 2010-11 State Budget is now 71 days overdue. The lack of a state spending plan is hurting non-profits, construction contractors and their workers, along with all of New York’s taxpayers who are sick and tired of late State Budgets. I share their feelings and frustration! I believe our top priority must be getting a fiscally responsible state spending plan done and in place as quickly as possible. With only five scheduled Assembly session days remaining, there is not a moment to waste.
A major sticking point to getting the budget done is closing New York’s massive $9.02 billion budget gap. One of the many real solutions I offered back in March to close the deficit was for state government to finally move forward and collect an estimated $600 million in taxes on cigarettes and gasoline sold on Native American lands to non-Native American Indians.
Earlier this week, I proudly stood with members of the “Enforce the Law-Collect the Tax Coalition,” along with other state officials from both political parties, to again push New York to move forward in collecting these much-needed revenues. The collection of these taxes must be a top priority before this legislative session concludes – Albany cannot be allowed to put it off for another year. I will continue speaking out, sponsoring legislation and leading the push for New York to secure this money so we can begin to close the deficit. The time for further delay or additional review is over. It is time to move forward – it is time to enforce the law, collect the taxes and level the playing field for all retailers.
HONORING OUR FLAG AND THOSE THAT FIGHT IN ITS HONOR
June 14 is “Flag Day,” which officially commemorates the 1777 adoption of the United States’ flag. The stars and stripes represent the very ideals our great country was founded upon: liberty, and freedom. So today, in advance of Flag Day, I want to pause and give my heartfelt thanks to all those who already sacrificed, as well as the military men, women and their families who sacrifice today. I, and all New Yorkers, say “thank you” for your service on behalf of our American flag, a truly grateful nation and all that it stands for. Stars and Stripes forever!
As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at email@example.com. You also can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and informational updates regarding state government and our Assembly Minority Conference.