Proposed cuts in Washington are worrisome for farmers anticipating the 2018 Farm Bill

One in seven New Yorkers rely on SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program once called Food Stamps. More than 1 million people on the program statewide are children under 18, and nearly 620,000 are age 60 or older.

With cuts proposed in Washington to the program — that comprises a big slice of funding provided through the Farm Bill — farmers are pushing to preserve SNAP among other programs that could be in jeopardy.

Farm advocates continue a statewide tour calling attention to a wide array of agricultural and food programs contained in the Farm Bill. The most recent Farm Bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014, expires at the end of 2018.

Feedback gathered during the tour will go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo “to help develop New York’s Farm Bill priorities for critical funding and policy changes in the areas of agriculture, nutrition, and the environment,” according to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

“With many important programs facing potential cuts once the Farm Bill expires, the listening session will help shape the agricultural policies and programs New York State will support in the 2018 Farm Bill,” according to Ag and Markets.

Key areas impacted by the Farm Bill involve the dairy sector, land conservation, the growth of the industrial hemp industry, state and private forestry programs, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, invasive species, food safety and SNAP, among others.

A session will take place Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Rohrbach Brewing Company in Rochester. Additional sessions are set in New York City on Nov. 3 and at Alfred State College on Nov. 9.

At a recent session at SUNY Cobleskill, New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher urged members on the House Agriculture Committee to work closely with farmers on the 2018 Farm Bill. Fisher highlighted the need for a revamped safety net for New York’s dairy farmers and improved protection for specialty crops grown in New York. Fisher’s presentation led off the session where Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and members of his committee heard first-hand from farmers and others associated with New York agriculture about their priorities for a new Farm Bill.

New York Farm Bureau’s overall goal for the 2018 Farm Bill calls for no further cuts in spending. Agriculture accepted more than $20 billion in cuts in the 2014 Farm Bill, and farms currently continue to face low commodity prices and a downturn in the farm economy, according to Farm Bureau.

“Everyone who eats is touched by this important legislation, and we need to ensure the programs and safety nets it provides are workable and effective,” stated Fisher.