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Farm Bill Includes Some Relief For Struggling New York Dairy Farms

SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) - President Donald Trump this week is expected to sign the 2018 Farm Bill that passed Congress last week. The bill includes some relief for struggling dairy farmers.

Milk prices have been low for four years now. Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) said the farm bill makes changes to a margin insurance program and lowers premiums for smaller dairy farms to protect their revenue.

“It’s a lower cost product, that our smaller produces will be able to access, in a more effective and efficient manner, to make sure they have that backstop when feed costs go up, or the sale prices goes down, or a combination of the two,” Reed said.

Reed said the bill also encourages expanding different milk-related products and trade promotion, which could access more foreign markets. But he said the biggest way to increase demand is to get the Canada and Mexico trade deal pass Congress.

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said the changes to the insurance program will help small dairy farmers survive.

"And a lot of them have not been able to survive," Katko said. "So, what it does basically, is weighs the price that they can get per hundredweight of milk on the market and assures they can have a bottom in it. That's going to give them stability, which they haven't had in a long time."

The farm bill does not include proposed changes to SNAP, or food stamps. Katko voted against an earlier version of the farm bill, because those changes lowered the threshold of who is eligible for the benefits based on income.

“You're penalizing people who are trying to get up out of poverty by working, who’s not making a lot of money, but you’re going to cut their benefits," Katko said. "That’s stupid. You want to incentivize people to work, not disincentivize.”

The farm bill legalizes hemp and includes $2 billion in research of pest management and marketing for apple growers and specialty crops. And there are also incentives for farmers to use methods that protect wetlands and water supplies from harmful algal blooms.