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WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 -- Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y. (18th CD), issued the following news release:
Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) voted in support of the 2014 Farm Bill Conference Report which includes key investments in the Hudson Valley economy. Passed by the House with a bipartisan vote of 251-166, the 2014 Farm Bill includes the very first bill Rep. Maloney introduced, the CROP Act, which reforms crop insurance and invests in the specialty crop farmers who drive the Hudson Valley's agricultural economy.
"My top priority is to deliver results for the Hudson Valley, and this Farm Bill does just that. Our hardworking farmers create thousands of jobs, strengthen our communities, and add over one hundred million dollars to the Hudson Valley economy, and I'm proud to deliver this historic and bipartisan Farm Bill for the Hudson Valley. With the inclusion of my bill that specifically helps our specialty crop farmers, as well critical investments for conservation programs and local foods, we're finally getting a bill that works for our families, our businesses and our farmers who make up the Hudson Valley's agricultural economy," said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney. "While I am deeply disappointed in the cuts to the food stamp program, folks have been very clear with me that when it comes to issues like the Farm Bill, they want imperfect progress not years of perfect gridlock."
"New York Farm Bureau would like to thank Rep. Maloney for his commitment to the farmers in his district. His support of the Farm Bill and work on the Agriculture Committee has enhanced the safety net for specialty crop growers in the Hudson Valley who previously had little help to turn to in a natural disaster. There are also provisions in the Farm Bill to improve market opportunities for farmers who are providing local food that consumers are increasingly enjoying. This is an important day for New York agriculture," said Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau.
"We are thrilled that we finally got a farm bill particularly because it includes more than a billion dollars in mandatory funding for the agricultural land easements program. This is a very important program which enables land conservation organizations like Scenic Hudson to work with farmers to preserve the single most important element of farming and that is the land. Without the land protected permanently the viability of farming is clearly questionable going into the future. We are thrilled that the funds are now in this bill that will enable us to continue to work with farmers in the Hudson Valley to permanently protect their land. Congressman Maloney has reached across the aisle and supported this critical program and we are now ready to continue our partnership with the federal government and the farm community," said Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson.
"Particularly the specialty crop money for research, as a recipient for SCR money for a couple different projects over the past few years, is great. We want to grow more, the demand is very high here, and any research dollars that be used to help us meet that demand with the high quality produce expected of us is just great," said Maire Ullrich from Cornell Cooperative Extension.
"We congratulate Congressman Maloney on passing the farm bill and it is hugely important to our operation. I think our country has a choice to produce food locally or abroad and this farm bill really helps our farm to succeed where we are and keep us viable. I want to thank Congressman Maloney for taking the time to understand our issues it means so much to our family, our business, and our employees," said Jennifer Crist, Crist Bros. Orchards, Inc.
"We are very happy with the farmland protection program included in the new Farm Bill. The final bill includes more than $1 billion for the new Agricultural Land Easements program and includes a cost-share waiver for projects that are strategically important but don't have access to local farm protection funding. Thanks to advocates for this like Congressman Maloney, the bill will provide important support for the work of land trusts and local communities working to protect farms in New York," said Russell Shay, Director of Public Policy of the Land Trust Alliance.
Specialty crops generate nearly $1.4 billion for New York's economy each year, making up one-third of New York's agriculture industry. The Hudson Valley's agricultural economy, which brings tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in revenue to the region, thrives on specialty crops like fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops.
Key provisions Rep. Maloney fought to secure in the bill include:
* The Creating Reliability for Our Producers (CROP) Act. Rep. Maloney's first bill, the bipartisan, budget neutral CROP Act, will help specialty crop producers protect their livelihoods from devastating disasters by investing in the development of new and improved insurance plans for underserved crops like those found in the Hudson Valley. In addition, this bill invests in the development of whole farm insurance, designed to assist smaller, diversified farms like those in the Hudson Valley. It will also invest in the development of weather based plans that can help farmers manage their risks from weather-related events like flooding.
* Ordering the Agriculture Secretary to work with farmers in the Black Dirt Region. Rep. Maloney worked to successfully include a provision directing the Secretary of Agriculture to work with producers whose operations contain muck soils like those in the Hudson Valley. In the original House version of the Farm Bill, Rep. Maloney inserted a similar amendment into the bill that required the Secretary of Agriculture to take action to help with flood protections around the Wallkill and Black Dirt region.
* Streamlining critical conservation programs. Through streamlining and consolidating 23 programs into 13, the new conservation framework will ensure existing programs work for the Hudson Valley. Rep. Maloney authored an amendment to the bill that allowed for greater flexibility when land trusts are partnering with farmers to put agricultural land into easements.
* Expanding support for specialty crop programs. After the program's funding was completely cut, Rep. Maloney fought to expand support for specialty crop research programs. The Farm Bill expands the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which has been successful in enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops found in the Hudson Valley by supporting research, product quality enhancement, and food safety. Additionally, the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, another program important to New York state agriculture will receive $80 million each year.
* Helping organic farmers. In addition to allowing organic farmers to establish research and marketing orders, this bill will help farmers become organic certified - helping them to sell high-value crops in new markets. It also invests in important programs like the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative - which funds research into solutions for problems affecting organic producers.
* Improving distribution of locally grown food. The Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program continues competitive grants to improve direct producer to consumer market opportunities including the development of local food system infrastructure.
* Prioritizes Lyme disease research. The Farm Bill makes zoological diseases like Lyme disease a priority area for the Agriculture & Food Research Initiative (AFRI), a competitive grant for agricultural research
* Enhancing beginning farmer and rancher provisions. With the average age of our nation's farmer steadily increasing, Rep. Maloney worked with Congressman Gibson to expand programs that assist younger Americans entering Agriculture, especially our veterans. In addition, Rep. Maloney has supported ensuring farmers have more access to credit so they can grow and expand their businesses.
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