Reps. Brindisi, Maloney, and Delgado, Meet with New York Farmers on Impact of Coronavirus on Agriculture

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From the office of Congressman Anthony Brindisi:

Yesterday, Representatives Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), and Antonio Delgado (NY-19), members of the House Agriculture Committee, met virtually with members of the New York Farm Bureau to discuss how the coronavirus has impacted New York’s family farms, and the steps Congress is taking to assist farmers through the pandemic. 

“As a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, I am working to deliver for Upstate farmers in Congress every day. Family farm agriculture is the backbone of our economy, but the pandemic has hit them hard. I am working with Democrats and Republicans to get them the relief they need. Including fighting to make sure they have access to Economic Injury Disaster loans during the pandemic. As a longtime partner of the New York Farm Bureau, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with all of their members and let them know I am fighting for them in Congress,” said Brindisi.

“The coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis have done extraordinary damage to our family farms and so many are struggling right now. It’s important that Hudson Valley farmers know we hear them, and that there are new federal programs, including the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, our offices can help with. We want to make sure these programs are working for our farmers, and we’re ready to help them cut through red tape and navigate this process,” said Maloney. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to connect directly with our family farmers, and look forward to continuing to fight for their needs with my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee.”

“Great to join my friends Sean Patrick Maloney and Anthony Brindisi tonight for a conversation with the agriculture community across upstate. Our family farmers were already facing a challenging farm economy prior to the pandemic, and I am laser focused on assisting growers and producers to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed,” said Delgado. “Through advocating for agriculture initiatives in federal coronavirus legislation and monitoring the implementation of USDA’s CFAP program, I remain set on hearing from upstate farmers to support their work and fix supply chains to get food to those who need it most. There is much more work to be done at the federal level both to support family farmers and ensure they’re equipped to recover stronger than before.”

“New York Farm Bureau advocated for federal assistance to help farmers who are facing serious market disruptions and falling commodity prices related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These programs will help their family businesses weather this storm so they can continue the important work of feeding us all. NYFB also appreciates the work of Representatives Maloney, Delgado and Brindisi to secure funding to support all of agriculture, including the more diverse nature of farms we are fortunate to have in New York. It is rare for a state to have three representatives on the House Agriculture Committee, and we greatly appreciated their time last night to engage with our members on these critical issues during NYFB’s virtual townhall event,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President

As schools, businesses, and restaurants temporarily shutter because of the global pandemic, New York’s farmers have seen a near total disruption of the supply chain. Limited domestic and international markets have caused a surplus of product for local farmers, and some have been forced to destroy their crop or dump milk. Many farmers have struggled to access Small Business Administration loans, and support programs and funds made possible through Congress’s coronavirus response legislation has been slow to launch.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which passed in late March, provided $9.5 billion in emergency funding for agriculture producers impacted by the coronavirus, including producers of specialty crops, producers that supply local food systems, and livestock producers. Applications for this program, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), opened last week and will close August 28, 2020. Eligible farmers will receive a one-time CFAP payment of up to $250,000 per person or entity.

Farmers and producers should apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) through their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. More information and loan application paperwork can be found by visiting www.farmers.gov/CFAP.

Brindisi, a champion for Upstate dairy farms, is working with Democrats and Republicans to deliver commonsense immigration and workforce reform for the agriculture industry. Brindisi’s Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed the House last year and included his proposal to finally expand the H-2A guestworker program to dairy farmers. Additionally, Brindisi has fought to increase access to mental health services for farmers and rural communities. Brindisi’s Seeding Rural Resilience Act is a bipartisan bill to help address the growing rate of suicide in rural parts of the country.

In addition to supporting the robust funding in Congress’s coronavirus response legislative packages, Maloney introduced the Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act, which will support Hudson Valley’s family farms by providing one-time debt forgiveness of up to $250,000 for farmers who hold existing loan obligations with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Read more about the bill here.

As a member of the House Agriculture CommitteeDelgado has worked to amplify the voices of family farmers across upstate. In August of last year, President Trump signed his bipartisan Family Farmer Relief Act into law. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Delgado urged the inclusion of direct disaster assistance measures in the CARES Act, which has been incorporated in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program and worked with members on both sides of the aisle to successfully get farmers access to Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Grants. The Congressman’s bipartisan Direct Support for Communities Act, which would ensure federal funding can go to every single community, regardless of size passed the House as part of the Heroes Act and awaits a vote in the Senate.  The Congressman also joined Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in introducing the Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act to provide needed loan relief for agriculture producers.

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