Faso Priorities Included in 2018 Farm Bill

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Washington, April 12, 2018 | comments

Washington D.C. – Congressman John Faso (R-Kinderhook) today highlighted the release of legislative text for H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act, commonly known as the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is an all-encompassing legislative proposal that guides the nation’s agriculture policies for the next five years. The current proposal has been developed over the past fifteen months by members on both sides of the aisle on the Agriculture Committee.

“I am pleased that the Farm Bill introduced today contains many provisions that will directly help Upstate New York farmers,” said Faso. “With the input of local farmers and members of my Ag. Advisory Committee, we were able to identify key issues to work on and advocate for that will make a difference for our farms and in our local communities.”

The proposal will be marked up in the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, April 18th.

“Having the opportunity to visit numerous farming operations throughout the district, I was able to see firsthand not only how hard our farmers work on a daily basis, but also see the impact they make on our local economies,” continued Faso. “We need to ensure our government is providing the resources and support our Upstate farmers need to survive and prosper. Today’s bill that was introduced is a positive first step and I look forward to improving it even more as it moves through the legislative process.”

A list of Rep. Faso’s priorities that were included in H.R. 2:

Further Changes to Dairy Policy Will Help Upstate Farmers

Dairy farmers are in the midst of a prolonged economic crisis as market conditions, trade barriers, and ineffective government policies have created a perfect storm of damaging factors.

Building on changes included in the Bipartisan Budget Deal, the Farm Bill makes further improvements to the nation’s dairy policies. Included in the legislation is language that increases the top coverage level within the dairy program from $8 to $9 which will further help support small and medium sized farms.

Cracking down on fake organics and supporting upstate organics farmers

Fraudulent organic grain and feed originating overseas are not only deceptive to consumers but it also artificially drives down the prices of legitimate organics, which hurts organic farmers in Upstate New York.

H.R. 3871, the Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act, modernizes organic import documentation, invests in new technological advancements, and strengthens the enforcement of organic products entering the United States. The legislation provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a robust set of tools to demand accountability and conduct strict enforcement. The text of this bill was included in the base text of the Farm Bill.

The Washington Post featured coverage of Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act in a December article.

Aiding Upstate farmers’ markets and our Seniors

Farmers markets are an essential part of our Upstate Agricultural Economy. With nearly 700 locations across the state, these markets are important outlets for farmers to sell their goods and a place for consumers to purchase fresh and nutritious produce.

The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program is an effective USDA grant program that provides low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods at farmers’ markets.

The majority of grant funds are mandated to be used to support the costs of foods; only 10% of grants can support administrative costs of the program. I introduced H.R. 5316 to reauthorize this beneficial program and ensure seniors have access to affordable and healthy options. The Farm Bill includes a reauthorization of this program.

Supporting farmer mental health

Mental health is a concern in the agriculture community. This is an issue that I’ve discussed with members of my Ag. Advisory Committee and as the market continues to make family farming an increasingly difficult business, it is one that we cannot ignore. Reauthorizing and updating this program will be an improvement for the agriculture industry and the farmers who are its backbone.

The legislative text from the Farm & Ranch Assistance Network through H.R. 5259 – the STRESS Act – is included in the base text of the farm bill. This bill would bring improvement for the agriculture industry and the farmers who are its backbone.

Helping veterans transition from military service to agricultural entrepreneurship

The average age of a farmer is almost 60, while the post-9/11 veteran unemployment rate exceeds 4.5%. The Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas program (ATTRA) is a grant program that facilitates transitioning veterans and younger people entering the agricultural industry. Rep. Faso joined with Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) in introducing a reauthorization of the program through H.R. 3667, the Veteran and Beginning Farmers Assistance Act. Reauthorization for the program is included in the Farm Bill.

The ATTRA program is the most reliable source for farmers who are looking for resources that can improve their own business, and for young aspiring farmers seeking to join the industry. A press release from the introduction of the legislation is available here.

Invigorating rural Upstate economies

Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) zones are a program administered under the USDA that targets rural communities with unique economic development needs. Representative Faso initially introduced H.R. 5250 to reauthorize the program through 2023. A reauthorization of the program is included in the Farm Bill text.

The REAP program first came to New York in 1999 as two areas in the Upstate region were added the program. Sullivan County and the Town of Wawarsing have both been included as a REAP zone, leveraging this unique distinction access federal funding to finance projects like housing redevelopment and community facility improvements that support regional economic development.

Background

Congressman Faso is the only New York Republican who is a member of the House Agriculture Committee.  He hosted House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Ranking Member Colin Peterson (D-MN) at SUNY Cobleskill in October for a Farm Bill Listening Session to gather input from local stakeholders. https://agriculture.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=4104.

A list of Rep. Faso’s priorities that he advocated for during writing of the Farm Bill is included here: https://faso.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=928

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