On National Agriculture Day, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney introduced his first bill, the bipartisan CROP Act, which aims to reform crop insurance and help specialty crop farmers. The Creating Reliability for Our Producers Act will help specialty crop producers manage their risk by encouraging the development of new and improved insurance plans for underserved crops. Rep. Maloney's legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Chris Gibson and is similar to legislation previously introduced in the 112th Congress by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
"I've been speaking a lot with Hudson Valley producers including at a Town Hall in Warwick last month and there's a real feeling from them that the rules weren't written for them," said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. "The CROP Act is a much needed improvement to helping out our hardworking farmers who are one big storm away from devastation."
According to the latest USDA Agriculture census, there are over 1,500 farms in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties which employ thousands of folks in the Hudson Valley. After Hurricane Irene, Orange County alone suffered as much as $50 million in lost produce, much of it in the fertile Black Dirt region, according to the Middletown office of Cornell Cooperative Extension.
"Particularly in the Hudson Valley diversification of crops is at an all-time high. Ensuring specialty crop farmers have more protection so they can more safety when they diversify is very helpful." said Maire Ullrich with the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orange County.
"I commend Congressman Maloney for offering the CROP Act to look at further improvements in crop insurance. Although some might think this bill is down in the weeds, it is not down in weeds for us," said Jeff Crist of Crist Bros Orchard in Walden, NY.
"We need more options. Having the changes that Representative Maloney suggests would save the government money and really give growers a viable option," said Adina Bialis of J&A Farm in Goshen, NY.
Last month at an Agriculture Town Hall, Rep. Maloney heard from farmers that Congress and the USDA must do a better job protecting our hardworking farmers in the Hudson Valley - especially in the aftermath of devastating storms like Hurricane Irene. Earlier this month, Representative Maloney questioned Tom Vilsack, the Agriculture Secretary, on the shortfalls of the current safety net for specialty crop farmers. Secretary Vilsack acknowledged that while 85% of commodity crop producers have crop insurance, that number is significantly lower for specialty crops (70%).