Deputy Ag Secretary Visits New York

Earlier this week, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan visited with New York farmers, hoping to gain their perspective on dairy regulations and farm subsidies.

With the 2012 Farm Bill ready for debate in the Senate, gauging the opinion of American farmers is more important than ever. The recent agricultural roundtable Merrigan held in Aurelius, New York, was intended to connect federal agricultural officials with local farmers. “I try to get out of Washington, D.C., out of the Beltway, on a regular basis,” Merrigan said.

Much of the roundtable was dominated by farmers discussing the benefits of federal farm programs. One local dairy farmer, for example, told Merrigan that he was able to install buffer strips around his farm, which helped reduce manure runoff and odor, thanks to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s conservation funding.

Other farmers pointed to their ability to install clean energy systems, despite high initial costs. “Renewable energy is not cheap energy,” one farmer said. “People need to realize it is still necessary for the future, despite costs.” Merrigan stressed President Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s commitment to clean energy programs.

“For me, when I look down the road for sustainability for farms, I think about renewable energy,” Merrigan said. “This president and this secretary are very into sustainable energy. This president came in with an energy agenda.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer