Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand hosts agriculture roundtable in Yates Co.

John Christensen
JohnChristensen@Chronicle-Express.com
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (left, in white), listens to concerns of agriculture representatives at Abandon Brewin in Yates County

The first Senator from New York to serve on the Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years, Kirsten Gillibrand, came to Yates County to hear feedback from farmers and producers.

Hosted at Abandon Brewing Co. on Merrit Hill Road, the listening session was get input on how to make the next Farm Bill as helpful as possible to the agriculture industry of the Finger Lakes Region.

“I’m grateful to all of the farmers, growers, and producers who participated in this important and productive conversation today about agriculture in the Finger Lakes region,” says Gillibrand. “The next Farm Bill is still two years away, but we must address our farmers’ current problems while looking forward to make the Farm Bill as strong as possible.”

Jim Trezise, President, New York Wine & Grape Foundation says, “The Farm Bill is vital to all of New York agriculture, and Sen. Gillibrand has done a great job reminding officials in Washington that New York is a major farm state whose priorities need to be considered as the bill takes shape.” Trezise credits these listening sessions, her activity on the Senate Agriculture Committee, and her hosting the New York Farm Day. “We are very grateful for her support and passion for agriculture.”

The attendees were predominantly from the wine and grape industry, and the topics of concern included immigration reform and their need for reliable sources of farm labor; easing wine trade barriers with Canadian provinces and U.S. states; expanding crop insurance programs for vegetables and other specialty crops; and the need for training programs to benefit start up farmers.

Gillibrand brought up the concept of “food hubs” – shared processing facilities that would wash, package, and label the produce for three counties, and serve as a distribution center to attract large scale buyers. She asserts the hubs would reduce farmers’ transport costs, increase food safety, create jobs, and give access to world markets.

Skip Jensen, New York Farm Bureau Field Advisor, expressed his disappointment there were no dairy farmers at the meeting, since Yates is the only county in the state where dairy farming is rising. Gillibrand’s staff assured him they were invited. “The next Farm Bill is important to New York farmers, affecting our diverse agricultural community in many ways. It is valuable to begin these discussions now with Sen. Gillibrand so we can work together to address real needs that support the future of farming in our state.”

“It is crucial that the agriculture community continues to speak out and share their concerns, and that we listen to them so that we can come up with good solutions to ensure our farms prosper,” says Gillibrand. “I look forward to having more conversations just like this in the months ahead.”