Congressman talks to local farmers

Congressman Bill Owens with farmers in Beekmantown.

Congressman Bill Owens with farmers in Beekmantown. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.

“The Senate passed a bill that has $23 billion in cuts,” Owens said. “At the end of the day, those numbers look more like $27 billion, with $8 billion or so going back into food stamps.”

The House Agriculture Committee approved a farm bill, but currently House Republicans are split over spending cuts.

The bill would cut spending in farm and nutrition programs by $35 billion over 10 years, similar to the one passed by the Senate.

Both would eliminate direct payments to farmers.

Food stamps would be slashed by $16.5 billion over 10 years, and new eligibility requirements could kick two to three million people out of that program.

Hundreds of thousands of children could lose their free-lunch status.

“I don’t know if you have farm-labor issues here,” Owens said to the farmers in Beekmantown, “but that problem won’t be solved in the short term.”

The Congressman said the farm bill would function off what they are being paid and what the costs are, with insurance kicking in to bring them “back to spread.” Most folks with small and medium farms are alright with this, but the larger farms are not, he said.

With Owens’ appointment, it marked the first time in 40 years someone from New York sat on the Agriculture Committee.

Owens said the individuals sitting on the Agriculture Committee are by and larger reasonable. They focus on farmers’ issues, a far cry from the many individuals writing regulations who do not have a good feel for what is happening on the ground.

Kevin doesn’t expect much to change.

“Let’s accept reality,” he said. “Hope for the best and expect the worst.”

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