Rep. Tonko scolds Republicans for letting Farm Bill expire

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New research shows cows may have a sense of direction. (Google)
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Updated: 10/10/2012 7:18 am

On Tuesday night Congressman Paul Tonko called for a re-authorization of the Farm Bill in the House, chiding his Republican colleagues for letting the bill expire like sour milk.

After helping farmers for five years, the Farm Bill expired on September 30th.

Rep. Tonko says the decision not act on the bill immediately, instead tabling the measure and adjourning from session early, has put farmers and consumers 'at grave risk.'

And even if you're not working in agriculture, the expired Farm Bill could end up affecting you.

Experts at the New York State Farm Bureau say the price of milk could nearly double if lawmakers don't step in soon.

So, if you drink milk, or use any dairy products at all, the status of the farm bill may be of interest to you and your family.

And even though some lawmakers like Amsterdam Congressman Paul Tonko did what they could to get a new bill passed, still, no action has been taken.

That means the federal money dairy farmers were getting to help offset profit losses from high costs have dried up like spilled milk.

Michael is the Montgomery County Executive.

He said, "The MILC payment (Federal money), although it's not a lot, it did help because the inputs are so high, but that's coming to an end, and so they're really concerned about how they will balance the inputs with the price of milk."

And by inputs, Michael means expenditures.

"Oh absolutely, the price of feed, the price of fuel all of those things, they keep going up, and the price of milk has basically has been going down because of the Federal funding to stabilize it," he said.

And those facts make that now non-existent Federal MILC money all that much more important.

"Well basically, they need to do something," Michael said.

"Right now there are a few different options out there, and none of them have been confirmed, but these farmers need to know so they can plan ahead," said the Montgomery County Executive.

And, Michael says, to make matters worse, dairy is the number one industry in Mongomery County.

So, he says, between that, and the fact that the price of milk could double with no action, he and the rest of the local community was more than glad to welcome a Town Hall meeting with Congressman Tonko regarding on the matter.

Rep. Tonko said, "Republicans in the House of Representatives, after Republicans and Democrats in the United States Senate passed a bill, are dragging their feet! And it is unacceptable! This delay, this tactic to not deal with this reauthorization is unacceptable."

Tonko continued, "And we want to build the voices of support to drive the advocacy, to bring us back into special session, if need be. To make certain that we have a plan ready to go in post-election time, if that's their choice, but this needs to be done ASAP."

FOX23 News told the Congressman that owner of Borden & Sons Farm in the Washington County town of Easton said he would likely have to 'get out of the business' if a new Farm Bill is not passed soon.

Also telling the Rep. that the longtime farmer said 'Just because it's an election year doesn't mean Congress should wait to act."

To that the Congressman said, "I agree with the sentiments of the local farmer with whom you spoke. It needs to be done, and it shouldn't need to wait for an election. If you are playing electioneering with this bill, then shame on the House for doing it this way! I really fault the leadership."

Tonko says inaction is simply not an option, and some Capital Region farmers agree.

Bob Cross owns Cripplebush Creek Farm.

He raises sheep and grows vegetables.

He says the lack of federal 'MILC' money won't have any affect on him, but he attended Tonko's Town Hall meeting to support his fellow farmers.

Cross said, "We are colleagues with those guys, and we want to keep them going."

"You know the line about the rising tide lifts all boats? Well the outgoing tide does the opposite, and that leaves you in a very sad situation," he said.

And it was worth his time to speak with the Rep.

Congressman Tonko says it's not just dairy farmers who will be affected by the expired bill.

He said farmers of all types are affected by lack of action by Congress since the expired bill has elements regarding conservation, rural energy concepts, crop insurance and rural economic development, to name a few.

That's why Rep. Tonko says he's doing what little he can to get the ball rolling on Congressional action before farmers are affected, and the price of milk is sky high.


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