U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, introduced an amendment to the Senate farm bill Tuesday that would provide an average of $8,000 to New York dairy farmers.
Gillibrand said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had denied her request for $77 million in relief for suffering New York dairy farmers.
A member of the Agriculture Committee, Gillibrand on Tuesday sponsored an amendment to the Senate farm bill that would provide $300 million in relief to U.S. dairy farmers.
“Dairy farmers across New York are suffering from historically low dairy prices and are forced to shoulder an increasing amount of debt in order to continue operating their farms,” Gillibrand said.
“Dairy farms are at the heart of New York’s rural economy, but milk prices are so low that more than 1,200 dairy farms have shut down in just the last decade, and many more are on the brink of failing,” Gillibrand said. “This is a crisis right in our own backyard.”
New York is the third-largest dairy producing state, with more than 4,400 dairies producing nearly 15 billion pounds of milk each year.
“These farms are the bedrock of the agricultural economy and rural communities throughout the state,” Gillibrand said. “Every dollar of on-farm milk sale generates $2.29 in the local economy, and for every full-time worker on a dairy farm, another 1.5 jobs are created in other parts of the food industry.”
A majority of upstate rural communities have lost jobs over the past decade, the senator told reporters on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. The amendment would lead to more upstate investment. It would also also include funds for job training, broadband and downtown revitalization.
Gillibrand said it would “help rural businesses get the investment to grow jobs” and “stop the trend of jobs leaving rural New York. It’s much easier to get a business up and running” in an urban area, she added
The House passed a much different farm bill last week. It received no Democratic support and 20 Republicans voted against it. An earlier House farm bill was defeated last month.
The Senate bill is expected to be voted on this week. The two bills would then go to a House-Senate conference committee House to agree on a compromise version before going back to both houses for a vote.
Gillibrand, a Democrat seeking re-election in November, called the House-passed farm bill as “a non-starter. I’ve never seen a more cynical bill that disregards the needs of families,” she said of proposed new food stamp or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan) requirements.