Republican lawmakers in the state Assembly on Wednesday released a letter to the state’s top leaders urging them to approve legislation that would help provide support to farmers amid a national decline in overall demand for food products.
With schools and restaurants shutting their doors, farmers are finding it difficult to sell their product. In some cases, farmers have been forced to dump thousands of gallons of milk.
Farmers have been struggling as it is the past few years.
The number of farms in the United States has declined 3 percent from 2012 to 2017, agriculture census numbers show.
And in that same time period, New York lost around 20 percent of its dairy farms. For the past six years, dairy farms have been facing a 40 percent price drop for their products.
“Due to a number of economic factors, New York’s farmers have faced a steep, uphill climb for several years. COVID-19 has now exacerbated the situation to a degree that no one could have predicted,” Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay wrote. "Our agriculture industry is facing a perfect storm which many may not survive. It’s time the Legislature, Governor and state agencies step up and deliver."
The Assembly GOP have already written a letter to the federal government and the USDA for federal assistance, but now they say they are also looking for the state to enact policies beneficial for farmers.
These bills include loosening regulatory expenses, suspend for one year the 60 hour overtime threshold for farm laborers, provide vouchers for food banks to purchase local diary and agricultural products, and make sure federal stimulus money be directed to local farms.
“The longer we wait to give our farmers the help they need, the more food gets dumped, and the more family farms are forced to shut their doors forever,” Assemblyman Chris Tague said.
“If we have no farms, we have no food, and even more than that, we would be losing a way of life that has sustained our upstate families and communities since before the Revolutionary War."
Copy of the letter can be found here.