BACON HILL, NY — Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made a stop at Kings-Ransom Farm in Bacon Hill, NY to survey the King Brothers Dairy production and address some concerns New York farmers may have. Over 50 people with different connections to dairying and agriculture made their way to the farm on Nov. 13, 2017.
Jeff King of the King family opened the event by clarifying that the day was about fellowship and not politics. King stated that his entire family was there as well as the staff. He added, “We are blessed with the best group of people,” who worked hard to put the event together on a short notice.
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher moderated the Q & A session between the audience and Secretary Perdue. He explained the purpose was to “make sure the future’s bright for all farmers.” Fisher continued to explain the importance of farming to New York with mainly small farms of less than 200-acres producing 5 billion dollars for agriculture and creating 200,000 jobs. With these figures, Fisher reiterated that it is common knowledge that many laws and bills are not performing in the ways they were anticipated to and many revisions are needed.
Prior to allowing Secretary Perdue to take center stage, New York’s 19th District Representative John Faso, 21st District Representative Elise Stefanik and 22nd District Representative Claudia Tenney were introduced to the audience. They all indicated a concern over immigration reforms and the effects on farm employment. Although they understand that border security is important, keeping farms up and running is also a deciding factor.
The first point Secretary Perdue made was in regard to Kings-Ransom Farm and the King Brothers Dairy operation. Secretary Perdue expressed his admiration at how clean the farm operated. However, his goal is “to improve the lives of Americans all over the country.”
Concern regarding the number of retiring farmers with few entering into the industry was brought up quickly to the Secretary. The SCORE Program was also addressed during this discussion. “We’re happy over the relationship with SCORE,” said the Secretary. “Younger farmers need to understand the cash flow and the inter-agency relationship in the administration is amazing.”
These relationships help create and sustain programs needed to attract young farmers into the industry and keep America farming. Also, the focus to bring veterans back to farming is an avenue the country is striving to continue.
As to the future of agriculture, Secretary Perdue said, “Agriculture is going to be in value-added programs in the future. He stressed the importance of encouraging the production of value-added products to be sold on the farm. He also recognizes the enormous barriers keeping prospective employers away from the industry. Secretary Perdue feels that using land grants and loans will in instrumental in securing small farmers and have them be successful.
Secretary Perdue feels the government has gone as far as they can in regulating school lunches and how the food is sourced for them. He recognizes the fact that many meals are going to waste and an entire generation of milk consumers has been lost due to miscommunications about the benefits of drinking milk. But Secretary Perdue stresses that it’s everyone’s job to secure a healthy food supply.
Addressing concerns about NAFTA and industrial hemp production, Secretary Perdue said that rules will have to be adjusted and changed to keep everyone happy. He was specific in saying that the NAP Program needs to be cancelled as it is not functioning in the manner it was intended and needs to be reviewed by Congress. The organic label will also be addressed to clarify a better definition.
The visit of Secretary Perdue gave the region a great opportunity to speak their minds. Upon leaving, Secretary Perdue stressed contacting your local representatives to help put your concerns on the table of the legislature.