Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R,C,I – Schoharie), the ranking minority member on the Task Force on Food, Farm & Nutrition, has secured the support of Assemblyman Jose Rivera (D – Bronx), the Chair of the same Task Force, and Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns (D – Brooklyn), Chairman of the Assembly Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, to advocate for upstate farms.
“Our farms and farm families are struggling. We need to build bridges between downstate legislators and upstate members to do what’s necessary and right,” said Lopez.
Assemblyman Towns has agreed to garner the support of his caucus, citing his rural roots and his past as a former member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee. “Besides being concerned for farms from a consumer’s perspective, we also must be concerned for them as an important economic engine for the state of New York.”
Working together with Assemblyman Bill Magee (D-Nelson), the Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, the New York Farm Bureau, and local farm interests, they are pushing for a $60 million appropriation in this year’s state budget to support the statewide “Dairy Investment Act.” This effort would reinforce action already taken by the State Senate.
“I am very pleased to receive the support of these members of the Assembly who have joined me and many other Assembly Members from all across the state in advocating for this extremely important allocation of funds for our dairy farmers, who are experiencing difficult times with very low prices and significantly increased costs of production,” stated Magee.
“This is no longer an upstate versus downstate issue, it is one state,” said John Radliff, dairy farmer and the Director of Region Nine of the New York State Farm Bureau. “We’re working together to support our dairy farmers and to revitalize our state’s economy.”
Senator Jim Seward (R,C,I – Milford) has helped push to draw attention to the plight of dairy farmers through a series of regional work-sessions and meetings, and Senator John Bonacic (R,I,C – Mount Hope) was also instrumental in recommending state support and advancing the dairy reinvestment concept.
Through numerous meetings and public hearings sponsored by Senator Catharine Young (R,I,C-Olean) and Assemblyman Magee of the Senate and Assembly Agriculture Committees, legislators have learned about the key issues facing farmers in upstate New York. They are pulling the state together, noted Lopez, to support farms and bring $60 million for reinvestment into agricultural communities.
“I’m proud to work with Assemblyman Lopez and my other colleagues in bringing the message to the Governor that upstate farms need help,” said Rivera.
“The Dairy Investment Program is a very efficient way to give the upstate economy a quick influx of $60 million. Dairy Farmers are important economic engines and are trying to survive last year’s perfect storm of poor weather, skyrocketing costs for feed and fuel and historic low prices,” said Alicia Terry, Director of Planning for Schoharie County.
The New York Farm Bureau is excited to see cooperation between legislators, with strong hope that aid is just around the corner. “Dairy farms in New York State are in a dire economic situation,” said John Lincoln, President of the New York Farm Bureau. “The low milk prices of 2006, combined with high costs for supplies such as fuel and feed, as well as poor weather conditions, have weakened our farm businesses. It is vitally important that the Legislature and Governor support the industry through the Dairy Investment Initiative to maintain the viability of our family farms.”
“Farmers have struggled long enough,” said Lopez. “Through this cooperation I’m hopeful that we can bring them the relief that they need.”