I formally released this statement with 5 Demands for the 2018 Farm Bill today at noon, at the Franklin County Fair in Malone, New York. I see the 2018 Farm Bill as a weapon aimed at family farming, especially dairy farms. For decades, the federal government has set the price of milk BELOW the Cost of Production – no business can survive that. Government policy is driving dairy farms into bankruptcy and destroying rural America, along with local control over our food supply.
Agriculture has deep roots in our economy, history and culture. Big money, big government, international agriculture and international banking are destroying dairy farms. More than that. We all eat. When we lose family farms, we lose local control over our food supply. This is a crisis for farming and agriculture, also an ethical, legal, healthcare and constitutional crisis.
Congress is on summer recess. The current Farm Bill is in conference – to work out differences between Senate and House versions. Two different versions of awful where grain farmers get bail-outs and diary farmers get forced into bankruptcy.
As the Green Party Candidate for Congress in New York District 21, I demand five changes to the current Farm Bill:
1: Emergency supports and financial relief including:
- Set federal floor price for fluid milk at $22 per hundredweight
- Seek $500 million emergency funds for New York dairy farms
- Set 2-year halt in state taxes that impact family farms
- Provide emergency tax credit in January 2019
- Provide restitution for failed Margin Protection Program
- Fund five-fold increase in SNAP benefits used at farms and farmer markets.
2: Legislative hearings to investigate: how we set the floor price of milk with testimony from small, medium and large dairy farmers; add-on fees imposed on dairy farmers after their product leaves their farm; key issues and next steps for any supply management system.
3: Legislative hearings to investigate: predatory lending practices aimed at farmers; anti-dairy and anti-meat messages in advertising, lobbying and farm policies.
4: Dedicated budgets to: fund improvements to agriculture infrastructure; financial services that help dairy farmers in debt; support services in rural communities.
5: Streamline bureaucracy and fund programs that put New York Products in New York Schools and Businesses.