HOPEWELL JUNCTION – Agricultural concerns took center stage Friday as US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand met with area farmers at a roundtable discussion in Hopewell Junction.
Democrat Gillibrand, left, listens and takes notes. Also listening was Republican State Sen. Sue Serino, center
This was part of Gillibrand’s statewide listening tour, aimed at gathering information concerning regional farmers, a proactive approach to discerning what the needs of that community are; so, when it comes time to vote on a new farm bill in two years, she will have more than enough relevant information on contemporary needs and concerns of the state’s farmers.
Gillibrand said the last farm bill did not give the focus toward the local, smaller agricultural producers that they deserved. She said she is committed to making sure Hudson Valley farmers are represented properly this time around.
“We want to make the views, and vision, for Hudson Valley farmers are represented in that bill,” said Gillibrand. “We need to make sure there’s protections for our fruit and vegetable producers, for our specialty crops, and often times, they’re left behind because the farm bill is, generally, focused on Big Ag and not smaller farmers and specialty crops. So, we’re going to do our best to make sure some of the needs of these farmers are represented, so they continue to have amazing produce and continue to feed our state.”.
Farmers also discussed crop insurance, established policies for young farmers to start out, venture opportunities for smaller farms, mitigating labor issues and more research.
Alan Glustoff, owner of the 5 Spoke Creamery, in the Black Dirt region of Goshen, said he has the utmost confidence in Gillibrand’s efforts for the Hudson Valley agricultural community and that this roundtable discussion was not only exciting for him, but was something he felt was necessary.
“I think it’s absolutely necessary, and I think it’s wonderful that Senator Gillibrand takes the time to meet with local farmers and I think she has good understanding of the issues; but, of course these meetings help to underscore what’s really important and how quickly things change,” said Glustoff.
Josh Morgenthau, owner and operator of Fishkill Farms, who hosted the event, agreed with Glustoff and said that the roundtable discussion was a perfect venue for getting the issues out in the open.
“I think that there were a bunch of issues raised that are really important and have been either only addressed minimally, or overlooked in previous Farm Bills,” said Morgenthau. “When we have an opportunity to have our voices heard as farmers, like we did today, it’s an amazing opportunity that I’m really excited to take.”
The farm bill is voted on every five years.
Senator Gillibrand is the first New York Senator to occupy the Senate Agricultural Committee in 40 years.