After Troubling Response, Rep. Delgado Invites Secretary of Agriculture to NY-19 to Hear Directly from Struggling Farmers
03/14/2019 - When Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was asked by U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) what could be done to help small dairy farmers in Upstate New York, Perdue replied that economies of scale are destined to impose certain harsh consequences on small farmers. He called the challenges facing dairy farmers "intractable." Perdue added that he would not be "compelled to keep anyone in business if it's not profitable."
Watch the full exchange during the Feb. 27 Agriculture Committee hearing at https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4782558/rep-delgado-highlights-family-farms-agriculture-committee-hearing.
Delgado, feeling that Perdue's response was wholly inadequate, sent a letter inviting the Secretary to New York's 19th Congressional District to hear directly from farmers whose livelihoods have been jeopardized by low prices, market consolidation, and a lack of access to local resources.
In meetings with local farmers and a recent visit to Don's Dairy Supply with Duane Martin, President of the Delaware County Farm Bureau and owner of a small dairy operation, Delgado asked farmers about potential solutions. They discussed ideas for improvements like localized infrastructure, access to capital for equipment, and help dealing with the challenges presented by a globalized market.
In his letter to Perdue, Delgado said, "Priorities dictate policies. And when it comes to your Agency's priorities, I believe a reassessment is necessary. Family-owned farming operations have provided a high quality of life not only for rural areas, but for our whole nation, for hundreds of years," Delgado said. "If small farms perish, so will a quintessential aspect of American life."
Delgado represents the eighth most rural congressional district in the country. During his first in-district work period, Delgado held a roundtable with local farmers, toured farms in the district, and met with members of the New York Farm Bureau.