Congressman Bill Owens with farmers in Beekmantown.
Photo by Stephen Bartlett.
BEEKMANTOWN — Larry Gonyo’s grandfather, Willard, arrived in the United States in April 1916, shortly after purchasing property in Beekmantown.
His father, Lawrence, was 4 months old when Willard started the farm with three to four horses, three to four cows and a couple goats.
Gonyo was born on the farm, and never really left, eventually inheriting it. Today, Beekman Lane Farm consists of 89 milking cows, 17 dry and another 80, a small dairy farm compared to the average one with 300-400 head.
“My father passed away four years ago,” Gonyo said. “Our debt load was low and the whole family contributes to everything.”
He and his son Kevin, co-owner of the farm, gathered with other farmers to listen to Congressman Bill Owens. They sat at picnic benches and plastic Adirondack chairs under the shade of a towering maple tree as Owens shared information about the farm bill.
The farm bill is an agricultural and food policy tool of the federal government that is passed every five years or so by Congress. It deals with agriculture and all other affairs under the purview of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Farm bills are often controversial and can impact international trade, environmental conservation, food safety and the well-being of rural communities.
Before Owens began, Gonyo explained that milk prices have dropped again, from $20 to the $16 range. Yet equipment payments do not fluctuate and fuel and fertilizer costs are up.
“If you are able to save in good years, it goes toward that,” Gonyo said.
So far, he said, the farm has been fortunate. It has struggled months at a time, but they seem to get by.
“But it’s been worse this year.”
“I just wish they would use common sense,” said his son, Kevin. “Legislation doesn’t help.”
Owens felt the farm bill would be passed by early September. If it was not to pass in July, the current bill would remain in effect.