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Local News

January 30, 2014

Farm Bill's progress pleases local officials

The new Farm Bill rising on the horizon in Washington, D.C., which replaces a milk pricing system with a margin insurance policy, is good news for local farmers with 200 or fewer cows, an agricultural educator said Wednesday.

“For our area, it’s quite favorable,” Mariane Kiraly, of the Delaware County Cooperative Extension, said.

The Agricultural Act of 2014 came out of a Senate and House of Representatives conference committee Monday and was passed by the House in vote Wednesday.

The Senate is poised to vote, but New York’s Democratic senators are in disagreement on approving the bill. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she will vote against it because of cuts in public feeding programs, and Sen. Charles Schumer, while objecting to those cuts, supports the overall bill.

On Monday, House and Senate agriculture leaders announced a bipartisan agreement on a five-year farm bill that “will reduce the deficit, grow the economy and provide certainty to the 16 million Americans whose jobs depend on agriculture,’’ according to a media release.

The bill contains major reforms and includes steps to consolidate programs and cut duplication, the release said. The act also strengthens a commitment to support farmers affected by natural disasters or significant economic losses and renews support to protect land, water and other natural resources.

“This bill is good for New York and good for our country,” Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, said in a statement. Gibson said the bill includes sections he wrote in support of beginning farmers and rural broadband development.

“The bill represents a significant victory for our local farmers” Gibson, who represents District 19, said. “There are provisions that will ensure farmers have the ability to sustain and grow their operations, and we can keep our rural communities strong.”

The four-county area has more than 500 dairy farms, Kiraly said, including about 175 in Otsego, 190 in Chenango, 120 in Delaware and 50 in Schoharie counties. The milk-price payment system will continue until the new Farm Bill program goes into effect Sept. 1, she said.

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