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Bishop Hopes to Recruit New Generation of Farmers

Congressman wants to work on farm career mentoring program to introduce high school students to farm work.

U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, D-Southampton, joined with the Long Island Farm Bureau for a coffee roundtable Saturday aimed at spotlighting issues of concern to area farmers.

Locally, Bishop said he planned to team up with the LIFB to advance their priorities regarding immigration reform.

Bishop also agreed that he would work with the Farm Bureau and BOCES on a farm career mentoring program to introduce high school students to farm work and recruit a new generation of farmers for the East End. 

Some of the next generation were featured in a short documentary, "Growing Farmers." The film provides a platform for the farmers to discuss the struggles they face and also highlights the community they've created — thanks to the land the Peconic Land Trust has afforded them, despite the significant amount of farmland that has been turned into residential developments.

Bishop began the morning roundtable in Riverhead with an opening statement outlining the ongoing federal budget debate and the coming negative effects of the sequestration cuts to services like the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food safety inspections and other critical programs.

Audience members asked questions on a range of subjects including the budget, immigration and education.

Bishop said he was confident the political climate in Washington is shifting in favor of a comprehensive immigration reform plan — something Bishop has advocated for years — citing the work of the "Gang of Eight" influential, bipartisan senators on a framework for a plan that includes tighter border security, a pathway to earned legal status for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. already, and reforms to the temporary and seasonal work visas so important to farmers.

"Right now is the most optimistic I have ever been in 10 years in Congress that we can get a comprehensive plan done," he said.

He added that the final package will likely have provisions that not everybody can agree on. "Ultimately, you can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

Regarding the budget, Bishop said the federal government plays an important role in facilitating economic growth and jobs, citing the defense industry and jobs at national laboratories He said reforming entitlement programs was necessary to tackle the long term deficit and that all options should be on the table except Social Security privatization, which, he said, is "unacceptable."

Also discussed was Bishop's legislation to exempt from the federal estate tax lands that have been protected as agricultural or open space. Bishop has introduced the legislation in each term he has served in Congress but he said the bipartisan bill could be considered during a debate this year on a broad reform of the tax code.

Deborah Klughers March 19, 2013 at 02:37 PM
What is missing from the article (but I hope not the discussion) is the fact that 2.8 million people on Long Island depend on groundwater as their principal source of potable water. This water supply- that we all drink & cook with & bathe in & water our gardens… currently contains 117 pesticide-related chemicals. According to the NYSDEC, millions of pounds, and hundreds of thousands of gallons of pesticides are used every year across Long Island. I do hope the new farmers will practice organic methods- or at the very least, drastically reduce the amount of chemical pesticides used on the farmland. These chemicals not only seep into our groundwater- but eventually end up in our ponds,harbors and bays. What effects will all of these chemicals have on our fisheries, which are also an important economic driver for Long Island? In addition to pest killing pesticides- what about the effects of chemical fertilizers? How much more nitrogen and phosphorous pollution can our surface waters withstand? Can we have economic development and job creation without sacrificing our ground water, health, and environment? The DEC is holding public hearings regarding the Long Island Pesticide Use Management Plan on April 3 at the Suffolk County Community College Eastern Campus and on April 4 at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage. Follow this link for more information: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/87125.html
john smith March 20, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Amazing that the duplicitous Mr. Bishop can continue to bamboozle farmers even after fighting to increase estate taxes along with Obama----you get the government you deserve and we will all pay the price for this one.
Conservative Underground March 20, 2013 at 04:45 PM
I do hope the Congressman gave full disclosure that the sequestration was the President's idea, approved by both houses of Congress, the senate being controlled by Democrats and it was signed by the President. Instead of continuing the myth of the "Scarequestration" perhaps the good Congressman could offer solutions other than raising taxes $1 Trillion dollars, more spending and no reforms?

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