Maloney Highlights New Best-Ever Farm Bill for Hudson Valley
New Hampton, NY – Representative Sean Patrick Maloney joined local agriculture and hunger experts to discuss victories in the 2018 Farm Bill for the Hudson Valley. Rep. Maloney, a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, successfully fought attempts by a small group of Republicans to make deep cuts to important programs that support Hudson Valley farmers and residents who rely on federal nutrition assistance. The bill includes provisions from three bills Rep. Maloney authored, fixes broken programs which support our dairy farmers, makes critical improvements to crop insurance, and invests in farmland conservation and agricultural research.
“This bill is a huge win for the Hudson Valley – it tailors crop insurance to better fit Hudson Valley farms, improves investments and programming for young and beginning farmers, and makes key investments in farmland conservation and research,” said Rep. Maloney, a member of the House Committee on Agriculture. “It also avoids cutting the critical SNAP program and actually fixes an issue I identified which would have prevented folks on SNAP from using their benefits at farmers markets – we got just about everything we wanted and I consider this a total victory.”
“I am grateful to have in Congressman Maloney such a strong advocate for our rural communities and I look forward to partnering with him to strengthen and protect New York agriculture,” said Jen Metzger, New York State Senator-Elect and incoming Chair of the State Senate Agriculture Committee. “Included in the Farm Bill are better coverage for our dairy farmers, funds for rural broadband, and new agricultural growth opportunities like industrial hemp, all of which will bring meaningful benefits to New York farmers and help protect our rural culture, our pristine water and environment, and the wellbeing of our communities.”
“I’d like to thank Congressman Maloney for his work on this vital bill, which invests in Hudson Valley farmers and provides assistance to those in need,” said State Senator-Elect James Skoufis.“Hudson Valley farmers are essential to our local economy and this legislation will provide necessary resources to help them grow, while supporting our community.”
"We are celebrating the remarkable progress that this historically bipartisan farm bill represents,” said Lindsey Lusher Shute, Co-Founder and Executive Director, National Young Farmers Coalition. "Though there is still much work to be done, this bill will enable more young farmers across the country to secure their first farm loan, buy their first parcel of land, and start their first business. The bill will make permanent investments in programs critical to young farmers, improve land access for the next generation of stewards, and create on-ramps for new growers into existing USDA programs. We thank Congressman Maloney, leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, and every legislator who gave young farmers a seat at the table and fought for this progress.”
“The farm bill passed by Congress this week is the right step forward for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), our nation’s most effective anti-hunger program,” said Sherry Tomasky, Director of Communications and Public Affairs for Hunger Solutions New York. “Protecting and strengthening SNAP is key to the future of New York communities, because SNAP helps struggling families afford food and helps keep households out of poverty. We are pleased to see lawmakers rejected proposals to take away food assistance from those in need, and instead passed a bill that protected and improved SNAP. The final farm bill agreement ensures that SNAP will continue to help feed children and their parents, seniors, people with disabilities, and working people with low pay and inconsistent hours who struggle to make ends meet. That includes 1 in 8 people right here in New York.”
The Farm Bill is the most comprehensive legislation Congress passes to support our farmers and nutrition assistance programs. Rep. Maloney secured a litany of key priorities for the Hudson Valley in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, which received broad bipartisan support. The 2014 Farm Bill expired at the end of September because of partisan fighting over a variety of issues. Before the 2018 Farm Bill was passed this week, 39 programs which did not have permanent authorization expired, leaving these programs “orphaned” after the September deadline. Rep. Maloney joined local farmers and agriculture experts in New Hampton in October to highlight the damaging effects of this lapse on the Hudson Valley.
Provisions from three bills Rep. Maloney introduced were included in the final conference report.
Rep. Maloney introduced the Young and Beginning Farmers Act in October of 2017. The bill was designed to help new farmers overcome the common barrier of access to land as well as improve access to critical programs that educate, train and assist young and beginning farmers in starting their career. Four provisions from the bill were included in the final 2018 Farm Bill. These include:
- Reauthorizing the Beginning Farm Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) which provides grants for education, mentoring, and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers or ranchers. The Farm Bill also combines the BFRDP program with the Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program to encourage more people to enter the agriculture field.
- Authorizing “Buy-Protect-Sell” transactions within the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), in which a land trust purchases vulnerable farmland, protects it with a conservation easement, and then transfers it to a farmer. This is an innovative and critical tool in getting young farmers on the land because, by enabling land trusts to add a conservation easement at the point of sale, it can significantly reduce the total price of the farm and make it accessible to younger producers.
- Doubling the Direct Loan Limit to make it easier for Beginning Farmers to acquire farmland. The legislation raised the loan limit to $600,000 from the current limit of $300,000, which more accurately reflects farmland prices, especially in states like New York.
- Establishing State Coordinators to provide local support to future farmers. These coordinators will work with beginning farmers to identify key priority areas and help new farmers connect with apprenticeships and land-link programs.
Local FARMS Act
Rep. Maloney also introduced the Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act last year to support local farmers and consumers by streamlining key USDA programs and enhancing assistance for farmers and farm organizations as well as helping farmers meet food safety and certification requirements, improving distribution, and expanding farm-to-school programs.
- The Farm Bill included a critical section of the Local FARMS Act which will establish a new comprehensive and streamlined local and regional food economies development program that merges the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program and Value-Added Producer Grants Program and includes support for farmers markets, farm-to-retail marketing, local food enterprise development, value-chain coordination, food hubs, planning and feasibility studies, producer-owned value-added enterprises, and regional planning through public-private partnerships.
Whole Farm Crop Insurance Improvement Act
Rep. Maloney introduced legislation to make whole farm crop insurance more accessible and effective for diversified, organic, beginning, and other farmers not adequately served by other risk management options. Hudson Valley farms often grow a variety of different crops, unlike many farms nationally, which grow only a single crop over thousands of acres. This bill was designed to tailor the program to the needs of local farmers in New York.
- The Farm Bill requires the development of a plan to cover more specialty and value-added crops. It also expands the definition of “beginning farmer and rancher” from a five to ten year qualification window for Whole Farm Revenue Protection. This will allow beginning farmers to qualify for better coverage rates for an extra five years. The bill also directs the Risk Management Agency to research and develop new crop insurance tools that reflect emerging trends in agriculture, including direct-to-consumer marketing.
Rep. Maloney also fought to make key improvements to other important program areas:
Research – The final Farm Bill will transfer $185 million in funding to the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a public-private partnership which invests in agriculture research. In the Hudson Valley, an FFAR-funded research project to combat the Allium leafminer is currently underway. The House version would not have added a penny to the program’s funding.
Conservation – The conference report does not eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the largest farmland conservation program in America. The House version of the bill would have eliminated the program and rolled its mandates into another program, effectively cutting conservation funding by $5 billion. The bill also increases funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) to $450 million per year for all five years of the farm bill and beyond. ACEP funds wetland restoration and farmland protection.
SNAP – The House version of the 2018 Farm Bill would have included billions of dollars in cuts to the program when compared with the 2014 version of the bill. The conference report omits those cuts, but does include expanded job-training and employment opportunities for SNAP recipients. The bill also resolves an issue with a payment vendor which processes SNAP transactions at farmers markets. Rep. Maloney wrote to Agriculture Secretary Perdue in July asking for the issue to be resolved. The 2018 Farm Bill will require Perdue to take appropriate action to ensure SNAP recipients can continue to use their benefits at farmers markets. This will allow SNAP recipients to acquire healthy locally-grown food while supporting local farmers.
In October 2017, Rep. Maloney met with his Agriculture Advisory Board to plan his priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill. He also met with local hunger experts in February, 2018, as much of the Farm Bill focuses on the provision of nutrition assistance. Although Rep. Maloney opposed the initial House version of the bill in May, he led a final effort on the floor of the House of Representatives to make popular improvements. In June, he opposed a re-vote attempt on an identical version of the bill.