FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 28, 2007
Schumer Announces Agenda For 2007 Farm Bill - Including New Comprehensive Proposal Targeting Specific Challenges Facing Upstate New York Farmers
Schumer This Week Holds Summit with Agricultural Leaders from Every Region of New York to Hear Concerns and Detail His Plans
As negotiations over the 2007 Farm Bill begin to rev up in Congress, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer will outline his agenda to ensure that the needs of upstate New York farmers are addressed during the negotiations, debate, and in the final legislation. Schumer last night met with more than a dozen agricultural leaders from across the state during a New York farm summit in his Washington D.C. office. According the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, cash receipts for upstate New York farmers increased by nearly $470 million from 1999 to 2005.
"We need to start the march to protect our farmers and ensure they receive the support from this bill that they need and deserve. Agriculture and farming is the lifeblood of the upstate economy and we need to everything we can to ensure it stays that way," Schumer said. "From grapes, to corn, to vegetables, to milk, upstate New York diverse and growing agricultural base is a force on the global market and this new farm bill needs to reflect that. Upstate New York farmers and farmers across the Northeast have unique needs that differ, sometimes significantly, from their Midwestern and West Coast counterparts. I am going to fight to ensure that the needs and concerns don't get plowed over in the 2007 farm bill."
Congress is set to reauthorize the provisions passed in the 2002 Farm Bill, which is massive legislation that supports the farming economy across the country. Schumer today said that negotiations over the provisions in the bill have already begun to rev up with the Senate Agriculture Committee's goal of having a bill written possibly by the end of June 2007. The provisions in the current farm bill expire on September 30, 2007.
Schumer today said that, unfortunately in year's past, the needs of farmers and the agricultural community in the Northeast have been left behind in favor of major agriculture conglomerates in the Midwest and on the West Coast. Today, Schumer released a new report showing significant growth in agricultural production in upstate New York and its growing share of the overall upstate economy.
Agricultural production returned over $3.6 billion to the farm economy in 2005. About 25 percent of the state's land area, or 7.55 million acres, are used by the 35,600 farms to produce a very diverse array of food products. Milk is New York's leading agricultural product and is produced all across the state. Milk sales account for one-half of total agricultural receipts. Production in 2005 was 11.7 billion pounds with a preliminary value of $1.91 billion, placing New York as the nations 3rd leading producer.
Schumer's report found that cash receipts for farms in upstate New York are up nearly $470 million from 1999 to 2005. Below is how the numbers break out across upstate from:
Schumer today announced his new comprehensive plan to highlight the needs and issues facing upstate New York farmers and the entire agricultural community in the Northeast. The proposals outlined below will be included in forthcoming legislation and will serve as marker during the negotiations over the farm bill. Schumer said he has been in contact with other Northeastern Senators' offices, including Senator Arlen Spector (R-PA) about his legislation. Schumer's proposal includes the following provisions.
• Crop Insurance - Schumer's proposal would expand the crop insurance programs to ensure that specialty crop growers are covered and receive a fair share of payments. Although the list of covered commodities has grown in recent years, 80% of total policy premiums and federal subsidies are accounted for by just four commodities — corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton. Nearly 56% of payouts to farmers in four states -- Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma. Schumer's proposal would double the Agricultural Management Assistance program, reauthorize and improve the Adjusted Gross Revenue Insurance Pilot Program, and expand crop insurance incentives to include beginning farmers, as an incentive to enter agriculture.
• Conservation - Schumer would increase funding for working lands conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP). Specifically, Schumer would raise funding for EQIP to $2 billion every year, up from $1.3 bill annually and increase funding for FRPP to $300 million. These programs are extremely important to farmers in New York where there is a huge backlog of unfunded applications. Schumer's proposal also includes fully funding the Conservation Security Program, which removes producing cropland into conserving uses for about 10 years.
• Nutrition - Schumer's proposal would dramatically expand nutrition education and Farm to School programs. This would include farm to cafeteria programs, farmers' market promotion programs, and school fruit and vegetable snack programs. Schumer's proposal would increase funding for the School Fruit and Vegetable Program to $300 million every year and expand the program to a minimum of 100 schools in each state. In addition, Schumer legislation would increase funding for the Farm to Cafeteria Program and the Farmers' Market Production Program.
• Energy - In addition to Schumer's previous legislation to boost corn based ethanol production in upstate New York, Schumer's proposal would provide direct incentives to speed up development of Cellulosic ethanol. Specifically, Schumer's proposal would reauthorize Section 9008 of the 2002 Farm Bill, which funds research and development on production of bio-based fuels, including feedstock production, harvesting, transport, and storage.
• Promote the Farm Economy for the Future - During Schumer's farm summit, members of the upstate New York agricultural community raised serious concerns about the fact that young people are not going in to farming or agriculture science. Schumer's plan would create the Farm and Ranch Profitability Grant program. This new program would provide grants to improve the profitability of farms and support state, local, and farm level programs to promote market development and advertising, business planning, ownership modeling, and product development. Overall, this program would promote the farm economy and demonstrate how vital it is to our way of life.
• Dairy Safety Net - Schumer's proposal includes a permanent extension and expansion of the existing MILC program. Specifically, this plan includes language that would double the annual production cap to 4.8 million pounds, which could mean millions more in relief for New York's dairy farms. It is estimated that raising the cap from 2.4 million pounds to 4.8 million pounds would increase eligible participation by New York dairy farmers in the MILC program from 72% of production to 84% of production. Schumer also said he is pushing provisions of the National Dairy Equity Act to be included in the legislation.
In addition to this proposal, Schumer today also announced that he is an original cosponsor of the AgJOBS Act of 2007 (S.340), authored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The bipartisan legislation would create a "blue card" for certain types of immigrant farm workers. The bill represents a labor-management compromise on farm worker immigration policy by creating a two-step "legalization" or "earned adjustment" program under which undocumented farm workers who have been performing work in agriculture in the United States may gain temporary resident immigration status and then earn permanent resident immigration status upon completing additional employment in U.S. agriculture during the next three to five years. The bill also contains revisions to the H-2A agricultural guest worker program, which allows agricultural employers to employ foreign workers on temporary nonimmigrant visas based on claims of labor shortages.