PLATTSBURGH — Congressional candidate Matt Doheny says he has four ways to help the agriculture industry, but his his opponent says Doheny is nothing but a mouthpiece for the Republican Speaker of the House.
Doheny, a Republican from Watertown, unveiled his “Prescription Pad: Four Ways to Help the Agriculture Industry Right Now” plan this week.
It was culled from visits he made to agriculture operations throughout the district, including some in Clinton County two weeks ago.
The four ways to help the industry, Doheny said, are thus:
▶ Provide a legal labor force. He said the No. 1 issue farmers face is maintaining an adequate supply of labor. He is proposing a plan that would allow dairy farmers and other agribusinesses to legally hire, document and verify migrant workers on a three-to-five-year basis.
“This is not amnesty,” Doheny said. “There is not a path to citizenship. This is merely a program that will allow farmers to be more certain about their labor supply, which is what all mid-to-large-size farms say they need.”
▶ Rein in the Environmental Protection Agency. Doheny said the EPA is often too restrictive on farmers, unnecessarily costing them time and money.
He supports the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require Congress to take an up or down vote on any regulation that would have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more.
▶ End the Death Tax. Doheny believes the estate tax, known as the Death Tax, should be permanently repealed. Without Congressional action, he said, estates will be taxed at a 55 percent rate next year with just $1 million offered in exemptions. The current rates, he said, are 35 percent and $5 million in exemptions.
“This will disproportionately affect family farms, which are capital intensive and often inherited by a relative or a partnership consisting of siblings and spouses,” he said.
▶ Expand Free Trade. Doheny said New York farmers benefit from Free Trade agreements, which allowed them to export about $1.1 billion worth of goods in 2010, which supported about 9,200 jobs.
A proposed agreement with Colombia would help New York dairy, beef and fruit farmers, but Owens voted against it, Doheny said.
“Whether it’s sending soybeans to Vietnam or bulls to Russia, our local farmers are finding receptive markets for their goods overseas,” he said.
Doheny is seeking to unseat 21st District incumbent Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh).
Owens, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, recently voted in favor of the Farm Bill in committee, which passed by a 35-to-11 bipartisan vote.
His campaign issued a news release this week that says Doheny is still is not clear on where he stands on the Farm Bill even though he spent a week touring agriculture sites in the district.
Owens’s Campaign Manager James Hannaway claims that Doheny, if elected, would be nothing but a pawn for Republican House Speaker John Boehner on agriculture issues.
“Matt Doheny has a clear choice: New York farmers or John Boehner,” Hannaway said in a news release.
“He can either support a common-sense, bipartisan piece of legislation that farmers need, or he can play games and shout political rhetoric from the sidelines.”
FARM BILL INITIATIVES
Owens’s camp says the proposed Farm Bill includes several positive initiatives for farmers, among them:
▶ Increases in funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is designed to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through grants awarded to states to support research, product quality enhancement, food safety and other projects.
▶ Consolidation of 23 conservation programs into 13, improving program delivery to producers and potentially saving taxpayers more than $6 billion.
▶ Providing improved access to credit and reauthorization of trade programs to ensure family farmers are able to capitalize on opportunities and make strategic investments, Owens says.
▶ The bill also would replace outdated, ineffective subsidy programs for dairy farmers with a new, voluntary risk-management safety net, potentially saving taxpayers $37 million over 10 years, say supporters.
▶ Another provision would streamline U.S. apple exports to Canada by exempting bulk shipments from inspection under the Apple Export Act.
▶ And it also would increase maple syrup production and promote economic development in New York, Owens said.
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