The 2020 election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 3. With that in mind, Country Folks reached out to those seeking the highest offices in each of the states in our coverage areas, asking them for their goals and plans for the agricultural sector. Many did not respond to our queries; therefore, we sought out information from their websites. Responses directly from candidates will not include the “NO RESPONSE” disclaimer. Note: some information has been edited for space.
- Maine Senate: Susan Collins vs. Sara Gideon
Collins – NO RESPONSE. In August, Collins called for additional agricultural assistance in next COVID-19 relief package. Collins has helped lead bipartisan efforts in Congress to direct more support to farmers. Recently, she announced that, following her advocacy, Maine farmers received more than $22 million in funding thus far through CFAP. Additionally, she co-signed a series of letters to the USDA, urging Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to prioritize assistance to Maine farmers, including those in the dairy, potato and blueberry industries. She also successfully included Maine producers in the Farmers to Families Food Box program.
Gideon – NO RESPONSE. In saying she wants to protect Maine’s key industries, Gideon is focused on climate change. She wrote, “Wildfires, invasive species and changes in freezing and precipitation patterns could negatively impact timber and other agricultural industries, as well as outdoor recreation and tourism. Investing in renewable energy and moving toward a carbon neutral future will help combat some of the threats to Maine’s key industries like warming waters, ocean acidification and drought.”
- New Hampshire Senate: Jeanne Shaheen vs. Bryant “Corky” Messner
Shaheen – NO RESPONSE. On Sept. 21 Shaheen co-sponsored and signed on to the Emergency Support for Rural Water Systems Act of 2020, S. 4633, to authorize emergency assistance for the repair, modernization and renovation of failing water infrastructure across the nation.
Messner – NO RESPONSE. No information available.
- New Hampshire Governor: Dan Feltes vs. Chris Sununu
Feltes – NO RESPONSE. Feltes released his “Green Jobs, Green Future” plan to create a new clean energy economy, generate thousands of living-wage jobs and lead the economic recovery after COVID-19. In favor of marijuana legalization, he wrote, “New Hampshire is on an island in New England as the only state without marijuana legalization, and that needs to change. The marijuana industry will create good, local jobs and provide an economic boost to rural communities.”
Sununu – NO RESPONSE. In animal welfare, Sununu signed legislation into law to strengthen protections for animals. In energy, he supported legislation that expands access to net metering, while still protecting NH ratepayers.
- Vermont Representative: Peter Welch vs. Miriam Berry
Welch – NO RESPONSE. Welch aims to build high speed affordable internet service in rural areas to help students, families, farms and businesses succeed. He is supporting VT’s farmers, especially struggling dairy farmers who are facing unprecedented economic challenges. He aims to enact a milk supply management program; strengthen the dairy insurance program; require the FDA to enforce its definition of milk; end the corn ethanol mandate that raises the price of feed for farmers, damages small engines, and harms the environment; stop the FDA from requiring “added sugar” labels on VT pure maple syrup; support organic farmers by funding organic research and imposing oversight of imported organic products; and advance the local food movement and farm-to-plate initiatives.
Berry – NO RESPONSE. Her website states, “America is a nation of vast and beautiful resources, from her people to her environment. We owe it to each other to carefully manage and never squander what is given to us.”
- Vermont Governor: Phil Scott vs. David Zuckerman
Scott – NO REPSONSE. In July, signed S.351, an act relating to providing financial relief assistance to the agricultural community due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, and H.656, an act amending multiple agricultural laws regarding livestock transport, feral swine, hemp, apiaries, local food and water quality.
Zuckerman – As a farmer and a Vermonter, David is proud of our rural culture, traditions and our farms. Our state is better for the farms and small towns that encourage kindness, compassion and community across our state. As governor, David is committed to supporting our farms and rural communities. He will work with them to build forward out of this pandemic-created recession. David also understands that Vermont is the most single-commodity-dependent state in the country. As governor, he will explore innovative solutions to the economic stresses that many of these dairy farms are facing. In addition, while the transition to a diverse agricultural sector can be culturally challenging, it also offers great opportunity for resilience and as a way to keep our working lands productive to our rural communities. David will also expand small-scale agricultural opportunities and help develop and work toward an agricultural economy that pays farmers and their employees a livable wage. We will do so while recognizing land stewardship by farmers and indigenous communities and look for ways to elevate women and minority groups who have historically not had the resources to own farms.
- Massachusetts Senate: Ed Markey vs. Kevin O’Connor
Markey – NO RESPONSE. In June, signed on to a letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and Pam Miller, Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service, calling on the Trump Administration to bring more retailers into SNAP online ordering program.
- Kevin O’Connor – NO RESPONSE. O’Connor says nothing is more important for American families than clean air and clean water. Federal policy must protect our natural resources. O’Connor supports federal energy policy that strives for sustainability, renewability and self-reliance. International agreements must be a part of our clean earth strategy, but such agreements must not disadvantage American innovation in world trade.
- Connecticut Representatives: 1st District, John Larson vs. Mary Fay; 2nd District, Joe Courtney vs. Justin Anderson; 3rd District, Rosa DeLauro vs. Margaret Streicker; 4th District, James Himes vs. Jonathan Riddle; 5th District, Jahana Hayes vs. David X. Sullivan
- Larson – NO RESPONSE. In the past several terms, signed bills in support of clean water and conservation.
Fay – NO RESPONSE. Fay supports clean water and air initiatives.
- Courtney – NO RESPONSE. In May, urged the Small Business Administration to assist farmers. In September, he issued updated information for eastern CT shellfish, hemp, dairy and other farmers regarding the USDA’s second round of CFAP.
Anderson – NO RESPONSE. No information available.
- DeLauro – NO RESPONSE. Through her work on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, DeLauro has helped boost homegrown biofuel production and helped bring increased oversight to our energy and ag futures markets to prevent the speculation and manipulation that drives up prices.
Streicker – NO RESPONSE. No information available.
- Himes – NO RESPONSE. Himes supported assistance to CT’s shellfish farmers. He also pressed for access to the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program by CT self-employed agricultural workers.
Riddle – NO RESPONSE. On his website, Riddle wrote, “I am a proud ‘green’ Republican and environmentalist and believe we should do everything possible to care for our planet and maintain its sustainability. The heart of that responsibility is ensuring the continuance of clean air and clean water.”
- Hayes – NO RESPONSE. Hayes writes on her website, “I advocated for proposals to support Connecticut’s agriculture industry and to help ensure their continued success through the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, I worked with the USDA and local stakeholders to get more dairy farmers enrolled in Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC); supported the opening of additional international markets to more American dairy products as part of the USMCA Agreement; cosponsored legislation to expand the existing USDA Milk Donation program to help get milk into the hands of the food insecure in the wake of COVID-19 – the legislation authorizes USDA to act as a matchmaker between dairy producers with excess supply of milk and food banks that can distribute that milk to those in need and authorizes an additional $4 million a year for this important program; advocated for specialty crops to help ensure farmers get the resources and assistance they need during the COVID-19 pandemic and to make sure farmers who have lost direct markets and income receive their fair share of any relief provided by USDA; requested that USDA make more relief available for farmers by lifting the CFAP payment cap; led a CT delegation letter to the USDA condemning unexpected changes to the Farmers to Families Food Box Program which clearly overburdened small CT farmers who diligently worked to serve our community at this time of dire need; and introduced H.R. 8042, the Helping America’s Farmers Act, which would create a new economic injury disaster loan program for farmers to assist them in weathering the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. I will continue to advocate for policies that support farmers and give more of my constituents access to fresh, quality products.”
Sullivan – NO RESPONSE. No information available.
- Rhode Island Senate: Jack Reed vs. Allen Waters
Reed – NO RESPONSE. Reed lists the following as his key priorities and accomplishments: He cosponsored the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act to support small farmers, invest in local and regional food systems and give consumers better access to affordable, nutritious and locally grown food through farmers markets, CSAs and food hubs. The bill also included provisions to help incentivize the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants at farmers markets and CSAs. He backed increased funding for Specialty Crop Block Grants to support research and promotion of fruits, vegetables and other specialty agriculture like nursery crops. This federal funding has helped groups like Farm Fresh Rhode Island expand their reach. Reed has worked with FFRI on initiatives like Market Mobile, which delivers locally grown produce to local chefs, grocers, hospitals, schools and workplaces. For years, he’s urged the FDA to restrict the use of antibiotics in farm animals and has cosponsored the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. Key proposals backed by Reed to help reduce the negative health impacts of antibiotic use in animals went into effect in 2013 as part of a FDA action to phase out the use of certain antibiotics used to make food-producing animals grow. Through the Farm and Ranchland Preservation Program, Reed helped provide federal funding to protect RI’s local farms, including nearly $2.3 million to help preserve Payne Farm, one of the last significant tracts of unprotected land and one of the few working farms on Block Island.
Waters – NO RESPONSE. No information available.
- Rhode Island Representative (2nd District): Jim Langevin vs. Bob Lancia
Langevin – I recognize that Rhode Island must take full advantage of opportunities in our sizable agricultural community to strengthen our economy. This is even more critical today with the economic downturn sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. To unlock the economic opportunity that exists in this sector, we must advance legislation that supports farmers and enables them to not only offer traditional farm products, but also experiences and activities that will attract customers, generate revenue and create good jobs. I’ve been supportive of legislation to expand training programs to assist farmers to further develop their skill sets and profit-making potential. I’ve backed the Farming Support to States Act, which would provide $1 billion to states to support their agriculture sectors reeling from the pandemic, including more than $4 million for Rhode Island. I’ve teamed up with my Rhode Island Congressional colleagues on several letters regarding the Farmers to Families Food Box Program so that local farms can participate and benefit. I joined a Congressional leadership letter requesting additional funding for the Agriculture Quarantine Inspection program, which protects our agriculture from invasive pests and diseases. I advocated for a disaster declaration for Rhode Island from the Department of Ag in response to drought conditions and the pandemic, which cleared the way to critical relief for local farms. I’m proud that my office assembled a Food First Advisory Committee which includes farmers, restaurant owners, representatives from our fisheries and many other stakeholders who are able to keep me updated on the issues they face and advise on action we can take to ensure their success. I know this sector continues to face significant challenges, but I am committed to working across the aisle and ensuring we deliver the support they need to keep their head above water and come out of this stronger.
Lancia – NO RESPONSE. No information available.