The HVADC Cultivator

Regional News:
Farm Bill Listening Sessions

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In preparation for the 2023 Farm Bill, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets held a listening tour, which traveled the state throughout the summer. Leaders, including Governor Kathy Hochul, Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball, New York State Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Michelle Hinchey, and others, held the meetings with farmers, producers and industry stakeholders across New York to assess the unique needs and concerns of each region. The tour extended from Buffalo to Long Island’s Suffolk County. 

On August 1, HVADC Executive Director Todd Erling and Board of Directors Member Eric Ooms, who is also a multi-generation dairy farmer and Vice President of NYS Farm Bureau, attended the Hudson Valley leg of the tour in New Paltz to provide the HVADC’s perspective on the Valley’s regional needs and to take part in the important information gathering proceedings. 

Erling said it is encouraging that the state took such a hands-on, personal approach to the process and hoped policy makers, many of whom have worked closely with HVADC, are treating the massive state agricultural sector with the respect and attention it deserves. 

“Farm bills are crucial to statewide agribusiness, not just as infusions of strategically directed capital but also as course corrections on policy priorities that have major ramifications statewide, and for every individual farmer,” said Erling. “These listening tour events allowed us to continue our call for more Business Technical Assistance (BTA) funding.  HVADC is pleased that leaders like Lieutenant Governor Delgado and Senator Hinchey are already well aware of HVADC’s calls for more BTA funding and support our work. But our farmers need more and the listening tour gave all of us an opportunity to sit down and fight for a Farm Bill that gets it right.”

Kicking off the listening session tour on July 18, Governor Hochul visited Bruno Farm in Suffolk County and held a roundtable session. The next Farm Bill listening session, which HVADC attended, took place at SUNY New Paltz in Ulster County.  Additional sessions were held in Western New York on August 2, Central New York on August 3, the North Country on August 19, the Finger Lakes on August 26, and ended in New York City on August 30.

 “The Farm Bill has a tremendous impact on all sectors of our agricultural community here in New York State, and we want to hear from our partners and stakeholders about what is important to them,” Commissioner Ball said, “As we prepare to advocate for our farmers during this upcoming Farm Bill season, we take the comments we hear very seriously and will use them to inform our policy priorities.” 

Erling said issues ranging from the farmland succession crisis, preservation to labor issues and regulations were discussed openly. Farmers spoke their truths to power as well. “What’s important for our leaders to focus on is that the cost of production in New York is higher than anywhere else and we have a lot of out of state competitors,” Erling said. “At my session we discussed the need for elected officials to represent agriculture accurately.”

Erling said it has been beneficial to have former Congressman, now Lieutenant Governor Delgado and Senator Hinchey closely involved in agricultural policy creation and he strongly encourages new representatives to seek agriculture positions and appointments. Erling said that along with the farm bill he would like to see more new economic development lending and services from other agencies with influence on agribusiness. 

“HVADC is very pleased that Governor Hochul and our state’s most influential leaders listened to our industry’s voices in person. It shows respect for our people and for agriculture as a pillar of the New York State economy and culture,” said Erling. “We are all taking this work very seriously.”