Abundant and prosperous farms are at the heart of healthy rural communities. For generations, Federal Agriculture Policy has been focused on increasing farm size and increasing farm production. I believe that farmers – as America’s original entrepreneurs – know when it is appropriate to grow their businesses, and do not need the government telling them what to grow, how much to grow, and how many acres to cultivate.
When I’m in Congress, I will work with farmers, other food producers of all sizes, and key stakeholders in the industry to:
Encourage responsible land stewardship. If I have learned anything from the farmers in our region, it is that farmers know how best to build and preserve healthy soil, not lawmakers in Washington. I strongly support conservation programs to help our farmers comply with State and Federal water quality regulations. I will work to roll back subsidies that reward irresponsible farming practices, and help level the playing field for our small to mid-sized family farms, which have been the cornerstone of the farm industry in New York State.
Streamline administrative requirements for H2A visas. With such a wide range of other occupations available for today’s workers, many farmers express difficulty in finding enough American workers willing to take on the strenuous and difficult work involved with farming. Large agribusinesses are better equipped to deal with the burdensome Federal regulations involving the processing of H2A visas to secure seasonal farm workers from outside the U.S. I will work towards easing the H2A administrative burden through both policy initiatives and allocation of resources towards initiatives aimed at helping smaller farms navigate the H2A requirements so they can find the workers they need.
Reform the Food Safety Modernization Law. This legislation is the newest example of the unintended consequences of Federal regulation. Building food processing capacity that serves small and mid-sized farms is crucial to revitalizing our rural communities. This law creates an onerous burden on farms in our region, and creates an uneven playing field in the kinds of markets that would allow them to become profitable at a smaller scale. When I’m in Congress I will work with the FDA and the Farm Bureau to ensure the implementation of the law includes the proper training for our local Farmers. And I will work to reform the law so that farmers and processors aren’t locked out by burdensome regulation.
Reform Federal Crop Insurance. With extreme weather events becoming more commonplace – from floods to droughts – Federal Crop Insurance is not up to the task of providing meaningful security to farmers today. On top of that, the current system is largely a handout to large farms. I will work with farmers of all sizes to ensure that Federal Crop Insurance works for operators of all sizes to ensure that extreme weather events do not destroy the farms that feed our state, and our nation.
Support Statutory Definition of Navigable Waters. Government overreach in telling farmers what they can and cannot do with their land has extended beyond laws to include aggressive rule-making by the executive branch. This year’s Joint Resolution 22 would have struck down the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers overreach in defining navigable waters administratively, effectively bypassing Congress’s role in enacting legislation. Presidential veto of the JR 22 legislation permits that overreach to continue and is a detriment to many farmers who are now being unreasonably restricted in their own land use. I will actively support enactment of JR 22 language to reign in executive branch’s overreach by defining navigable waters consistent with intent behind the Congressionally approved Clean Water legislation.
Promote Innovation in Agriculture. I will work to actively support increased private investment in farmers and entrepreneurs who are locally innovating and creating terrific new distilleries, wineries, cider mills, mills, farm stores, dairy products, and organic and hydroponic products. These products often generate agricultural tourism destinations that are breathing new life into our local communities. These businesses not only deliver tremendous investments, tourists, and excitement to our local communities, but also new healthy choices as local land is used to support local production, reducing the import of certain staples and associated distribution wastes. There are also opportunities to revise regulations to help these local investments compete against heavily subsidized big industries.