by Troy Bishopp

UTICA, NY — Back on the campaign trail, Democratic Candidate, Anthony Brindisi, vowed to work for agriculture throughout the 22nd congressional district. After winning a contentious mid-term election against incumbent Republican Congresswoman, Claudia Tenney, the freshman New York Congressman is moving forward with his commitment to listen, understand and act on behalf of farmers.

In January, Brindisi was appointed to the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture where he serves on the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, and the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research. “I am excited to begin my work on the House Agriculture Committee and deliver results for our farmers, producers, rural communities, and hardworking families,” said Congressman Brindisi. “I will work across the aisle to make sure our local farmers have the support they need to get a fair price for their goods, succeed financially, and make an honest living.”

The Livestock and Foreign Agriculture subcommittee has jurisdiction over policies related to all livestock, poultry, dairy, and seafood. In NY-22, the dairy industry alone supports nearly 4,000 direct jobs, more than $235 million in wages, and generates an economic impact of $1.83 billion.  The Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research subcommittee has jurisdiction over policies relating to horticulture, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and ornamentals, bees, and organic agriculture. It also oversees pest and disease management, bioterrorism, and biotechnology.

The 22nd Congressional District is classified as more than 50 percent rural. There are nearly 5,000 farms covering more than 940,000 acres and supporting roughly 6,800 jobs. “I’m glad to be appointed to the two subcommittees that oversee issues vitally important to Upstate New York’s agriculture industry,” said Brindisi. “From dairy to apples, agriculture is huge driver of our economy, and I’m ready to get to work on the agriculture committee to support farmers, producers, and agriculture partners across our district.”

To help coordinate his agricultural efforts, he appointed Sarah Bormann as District Director for New York’s 22nd Congressional District. Bormann brings a wealth of experience as she has worked for former Congressmen Sherwood Boehlert, Michael Arcuri and Richard Hanna. “I’ve been fortunate to have mentored with three outstanding public servants through the years. I am honored that Anthony has chosen me to be District Director for NY-22 and I’m excited to put the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the past 18 years to work for residents of the district,” said Bormann. She will be in charge of district offices, community relations, and constituent services for the Congressman.

A few of Congressman Brindisi’s top priorities include: “Ensuring an adequate safety net for dairy farmers with the recently passed farm bill reforming the Dairy Margin Coverage program (formerly the Margin Protection Program); reforming the broken immigration system to maintain the existing workforce and ensure agricultural producers have the labor pool they need to continue operating in Upstate New York; safeguarding any trade deals which help local dairy, apple, and other agricultural producers compete on the global marketplace while ensuring funding for important programs like the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Access Program, which help domestic companies compete overseas.”

As part of his passion to help Upstate New York dairy farmers, Reps. Anthony Brindisi (NY-22) and John Joyce (PA-13) led a group of bipartisan freshman members of Congress to urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take strong action against manufacturers who falsely label non-dairy products as milk. “The FDA’s federal standard defines ‘milk’ as coming from the ‘milking of one or more healthy cows.’” Brindisi said. “The FDA says food labels are meant to inform consumers about what they’re buying, and standards of identity are used to ensure that foods have the characteristics expected by consumers.”

“We urge you to make crystal clear that dairy imitators will not be considered in compliance with standards of identity if they merely add the name of a plant material in front of a standardized dairy term, or otherwise reference dairy terms,” wrote Brindisi and his colleagues to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

“Modifying the word ‘milk’ with a plant product descriptor does not make the label accurate or appropriate. It’s simple: if comes from a cow, it’s milk; if it doesn’t, it’s not,” said Brindisi. “Why would we call a product something it’s not? Dairy farmers in Upstate New York set high standards for the milk they produce. Copycat products shouldn’t be able to profit off of their hard work.”

“My top priority as a member of Congress is listening to my constituents and doing everything I can to solve their problems,” said Congressman Brindisi. “That’s the same approach I take to the Agriculture Committee. That’s why I am setting up an advisory council made up of folks from the 22nd district who can help guide my work and priorities in Congress. My team and I will meet regularly with our Agriculture Advisory Council to hear directly from those on the frontlines about the challenges they are facing and the work that needs to be done and take their voices to the Agriculture Committee.” A late March meeting is being planned in the Cortland, NY, area for the inaugural council summit.

To connect with Congressman Anthony Brindisi: Call his Utica office at 315.732.0713 or his Binghamton office at 607.242.0200.