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How the Farm Bill Will Affect New Yorkers

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

After two years of delays, Congress is poised to vote on a nearly 1,000-page Farm Bill this week. The bill, which must be renewed every five years, would restore cuts to farm and nutrition programs, while slashing nearly $9 billion from food stamps over 10 years.

The new bill will offer a stronger safety net for New York's dairy farmers by offering government insurance, according to Dean Norton, president of the New York Farm Bureau, an agriculture advocacy group. He believes the latest Farm Bill would prevent price spikes in dairy products.

"This is going to make those swings much less greater. It's going to be a smaller adjustment or a smaller rise or a smaller decrease. More of a level playing field," he said. 

New York's apple growers are hoping the bill will restore cuts to research and marketing for the apple industry. A new provision in the bill would also exempt bulk apple shipments to Canada from costly inspections.

"Apples that are going in to be processed into sauce, juice or repackaged for the fresh consumer market, we do not feel it's needed to be inspected," said James Allen, president of the New York Apple Association. 

Allen projects the change could save New York's apple growing industry up to $500,000 a year.

At the same time, some New Yorkers who receive food stamps are bracing for cuts. Jennifer, a single mother of two from Park Slope who didn’t want her last name to be used, said she’s worried about the impact they will have on her family.

"If they’re going to cut more than what they already have, it really puts me in a very difficult position," she said. "I don’t know what I’m going to do."

Jennifer currently gets $300 a month in food stamps. In New York City, about 190,000 households would lose on average between $90 and $130 in monthly benefits if the farm bill is passed.

The House is scheduled to vote on the bill Wednesday.

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