Press Release, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed the details of the newly-released 2018 Farm Bill, Conference Report, which passed the Senate by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 87-13.
Schumer said the bill will benefit key Upstate New York agricultural communities. Senator Schumer detailed several major areas in which the Farm Bill will be a major boost to Upstate farmers, growers, food-needy families and producers, as well as other New York businesses.
Schumer said the newly announced bill reflects a variety of different priorities he pushed for on behalf of the New York agricultural community. Schumer lauded the months-long bi-partisan process to craft the Farm Bill and congratulated committee leaders Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Republican Chair Pat Roberts, as well as committee member, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, for their assiduous work.
“The Farm Bill is a major victory for Upstate New York and its large and vital agricultural community,” said Senator Schumer. “Ensuring the passage of a Farm Bill is vital for New York’s agricultural community and our economy as a whole. The bill makes further investments to help Upstate New York dairy farmers, boosts the rapidly-growing organic sector, builds on New York’s burgeoning industrial hemp industry, expands rural broadband, strengthens crop insurance, and protects our most vulnerable hungry families and seniors from harmful cuts. While the bill does not contain everything that we fought for, it is ultimately a win for the farmers that are the heart of Upstate New York.”
The newly introduced Farm Bill includes major victories for Upstate New York dairy farmers and producers. The newly introduced Farm Bill invests in programs to help give much-needed relief to Upstate New York dairy farmers and producers. The Farm Bill includes a variety of helpful reforms including, an investment of $100 million to help improve the Federal dairy insurance program to help make the program work better for small to medium dairy farms, a provision waiving administrative fees for beginning, veteran, and underserved farmers, a provision continuing the vital changes made in the Omnibus Budget bill that allowed for the creation of new dairy insurance tools in the future, and a program that would provide funding to dairy organizations who chose to donate their products.
This Farm Bill focused on investing in our small rural communities across New York State and nationwide. One example of this was the establishment of a new grant program that will target high-need, rural areas seeking to undertake broadband internet projects. These projects will help connect our most in need areas and upgrade to more modern internet access. Additionally, the Farm Bill made important investments in programs that help grow our rural small businesses, as well as those that help to fight the opioid crisis.
The newly introduced Farm Bill establishes mandatory funding of $24 million over FY19-23 for the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP), which helps support farmers who want to become involved in the organic market by providing reimbursements of some of their annual fees for United States Department of Agriculture organic certification – it includes an increase in critical funding for organic research through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative from its current level of $20 million to $50 million by FY2023. Finally, the Farm Bill increases the authorization for the National Organic Program (NOP). Schumer has been a major supporter of this program that helps USDA protect farmers from having to unfairly compete against fraudulent organic imports while also helping to maintain consumer confidence in the USDA certified organic brand. This bill increases the authorization for the NOP to $16.5 million in FY2019, $18 million in FY2020, $20 million in FY2021, $22 million in FY2022, and $24 million in FY2023.
The Farm Bill contained a number of provisions beneficial to Upstate farmers, but especially to farmers of specialty crops. New York produces a wide range of specialty crops (fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, herbs and spices, maple syrup, Christmas trees, etc.) that rank highly nationwide in terms of both production and economic value. The Senate Farm Bill, according to Schumer, provides vital funding to key programs that aid specialty crop producers, such as the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative. These programs help provide support to New York’s specialty crop industry in the form of robust research funding.
The Farm Bill reauthorizes Schumer’s original legislation known as The Maple Tap Act, which Schumer said is now officially called the Acer Access and Development Program. This provision will continue to help maple producers in the Hudson Valley and across Upstate New York boost their production and become more competitive with places like Canada, which produces 85 percent of the world’s maple product. Schumer said, specifically, this provision provides an authorization for USDA grants to states that create programs to encourage individual and private landowners to open up their trees to maple tapping. Schumer’s legislation would also provide grants to states to support market promotion, maple industry research and development, and education through leading institutions, like Cornell.
Another important provision Schumer fought to include was the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. Schumer, a cosponsor of the Hemp Farming Act, said the provision could help unlock industrial hemp’s full potential as an agricultural commodity across Upstate New York by removing hemp from a federal list of controlled substances. Schumer said the bill will do four important things for farmers nationwide including in New York State:
Remove industrial hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act
Empower states to be the principal regulators of hemp
Allow hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture
Make hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance
Most importantly, Schumer said this important provision would allow for New York’s agricultural community to grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity if they so choose, allowing New York growers more flexibility
The Farm Bill requires the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service to record all barley production in New York State. By ensuring that this critical information is accessible for barley farmers, they will be able to better determine any future plantings. Additionally, the provision would give crop insurance providers access to this essential information, which could spur them to expand coverage and potentially even offer a malting barley endorsement.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP):
Schumer explained that he fought to protect SNAP from any cuts in the Farm Bill. Schumer said that he also was able to push for other provisions to help those most in need. First, the Farm Bill creates opportunities for job training for some of the most in-need New Yorkers who participate in SNAP, to help them find and keep good-paying jobs. Second, the Farm Bill simplifies paperwork for New York seniors who participate in SNAP to ensure they get the nutritional assistance they need and deserve as quickly as possible. And lastly, the Farm Bill creates the “Farm to Food Bank” initiative, which will help provide New Yorkers using SNAP with locally-grown, New York produce and other food.
Schumer said the Farm Bill funds key environmental programs that are essential to farmers, like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). These programs are voluntary conservation initiatives that farmers can utilize through the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to help them continue to be good stewards of the land.
The newly introduced Farm Bill also includes a vital provision called the Pet and Women Safety Act (PAWS) Act, which Schumer is currently a cosponsor of. This bill would help give victims of domestic violence and their pets greater access to safe sheltering options, as well as provide stronger legal protections to pets. According to the Humane Society, up to one-third of domestic violence victims delay leaving a dangerous situation, because they fear for the safety of their pets, and up to one-fourth return to an abuser due to concern for their pets.
Local Food Programs:
The Farm Bill creates a new Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) by combining the Value Added Producer Grants Program and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program. The value-added producers grant program helps dairy farmers that start producing artisanal cheese or apple growers that enter the hard cider industry. The grants administered through the new LAMP program will continue to support strengthening our local food systems from rural farmers to urban consumers.
Water, waste disposal, & wastewater facility grants:
The Farm Bill provides funding to support and strengthen rural water infrastructure. Funding to Rural Development programs like the Water, Waste Disposal, and Wastewater Facility Grant program will help families and businesses across Upstate New York and nationwide continue to have access to clean drinking water.
Community facility investments:
The Farm Bill supports Community Facility investments to continue to help provide resources to construct hospitals, improve schools, while also improving fire and police stations across small towns in New York State.