2018 Candidate Survey Responses

The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) is a grassroots network of 140,000 young farmers, ranchers, and consumers fighting for the future of agriculture. NYFC has forty chapters in twenty-eight states.
We conducted a 2018 Candidate Survey to provide voters with information on where the candidates for U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives stand on a number of issues important to young farmers as indicated in NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey.
Click on the map below to see the responses from the candidates in your state.



This survey was conducted in select districts and states nationwide. Our focus included districts with members of the House and Senate agriculture committees and districts where NYFC has local chapters. The following responses are from the candidates who chose to participate.

Alabama

Candidate: Mallory Hagan

Running for United States House of Representatives (AL-3)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Ensuring food safety and security: Americans must have access to food that is safe for our families to consume. The USDA and other organizations work with producers, supply chains, and retailers to make sure the produce, meat, and dairy we count on won’t harm us. In Congress, I would work to help make these roles as efficient as possible, while minimizing the regulatory burden on family farmers.   Investing in local farms: We must make sure local and regional farmers are part of our agribusiness portfolio. Like small businesses, local farms should be able to make it and grow without being dominated by large conglomerates. Grants and loans to family farmers foster new techniques and help make more local food available at competitive prices.  Supporting markets: Anyone who produces food, meat, or dairy needs a way to sell their products. From farmers markets to local restaurants, chains, and grocery stores, there should be outlets for farmers of all sizes to engage in commerce.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

The USDA altered its policies in 2017 to help ease the transfer of land to next generation farmers, and I believe we should embrace policies like these. Farmland accessibility is a top barrier for new farmers. Improving and streamlining the federal application and paperwork process for many of the federal programs through the USDA to make the interaction between new, young farmers and the federal government easier and faster could improve young farmer success rates. With a majority of land shifting hands within the next 25 years, America should help that land shift to a diverse group of farmers who will use new technologies and methods to keep land producing high yields for years to come.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

We should train USDA employees and advocates to help educate and provide access to federal programs which benefit young or beginning farmers. I would like to work to retool the USDA for better online accessibility and make applications easier to navigate and understand. We can expand our support and services to farmers by creating access to training that highlights support initiatives for young and beginning farmers.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Expanding affordable access to quality healthcare is a central part of my campaign. We should expand the options for affordable healthcare options for Americans across income and industries. In Congress, I would fight to reduce the costs of health insurance, improve cost saving measures, and improve rural hospital funding measures. We must protect the wellbeing of the stewards of America’s land.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

I believe that secondary education shouldn’t require a huge debt burden. I will work to make college affordable for all students throughout the country. I also plan to advocate for reducing student loan interest rates and working on other ways of alleviating the debt burden of those with student loans. I will push the USDA to allow young farmers to be able to manage and refinance their student loans. Preferential interest rates and partial to full loan forgiveness could be offered in exchange for full-time farmers. These options not only make the farming industry more attractive to young farmers, but clears student loan debt from the path of new potential farmers to set them up for success.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Yes, I believe Congress has a responsibility to address the changing climate. Young farmers should not be alone in their search to learn ways to keep our environments clean and safe without impeding profitability and yields. Members of Congress who have a large portion of rural constituents can address their techniques and farming practices not only to adapt to current changes, but to promote the longevity of our farmland; conservation tilling and forage management are just two ways in which farmers can help take greenhouses gases out of our atmosphere, which are known to affect weather patterns in unpredictable ways. Another way congress and farmers can work together to address climate change is by generating renewable energy. Wind farms located on farms and energy-generating greenhouses can make a drastic difference in keeping a clean environment and fertile soil for our farmers.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

America’s immigration policy should reflect the needs of the country. There is a need for farm workers around the country and the current labor market does not adequately supply enough farm workers, especially skilled workers, for farm owners. Expanding citizenship and working permits for those already here as well as those wanting to immigrate would help supply the 21st century farming labor needs.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

The first step is to hold every USDA employee liable and accountable for their actions. In a report by Shakara Tyler, loan officers were found guilty of stalling loan applications due to “error” which would force minority, immigrant, and indigenous farmers to keep applying for the same loan over and over again without ever getting assistance. That’s unacceptable. Everyone deserves a fair shot to provide for their communities, and farmers of all kinds should be welcomed with open arms. As of 2007, the reported number of black farm operators alone was sitting at 30,000 while white farm operators sat around 2.1 million. We can train advocates to help farmers with difficulties getting assistance with filing paperwork, getting appointments, and locating non-profits that can provide grant funding for their farms, and we can establish guidelines that enforce civil rights in our agriculture industry. We can also utilize organizations that help obtain and address resources available for underserved communities and help make farming more diverse and inclusive around the nation.

Arkansas

Candidate: Clarke Tucker

Running for United States House of Representatives (AR-2)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1) Healthcare for farm workers; 2) Equal pay for equal work, regardless of race, gender or age; 3) Addressing the impact of climate change through sustainable agricultural practices and advancing the clean energy economy

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

We should be prioritizing our small businesses and farms. These small businesses may need help to compete with agricultural conglomerates which may seek to further their monopoly on America’s farmland.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Congress should invest in modernizing the applications for USDA programs, including online options. Increasing rural broadband access is crucial to raising awareness about and facilitating completion of these programs.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

We must lower healthcare costs across the board, increase access to care, and ensure no one can be denied due to a pre-existing condition. We must ensure that rural hospitals have the resources they need to keep their doors open. It doesn’t matter how good your coverage is if your hospital closes.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Too many young people enter the workforce with a mountain of debt that hinders their ability to start a business or pursue entrepreneurship. That’s why I support reducing the cost of higher education and allowing students to refinance already-existing student loans. Higher education isn’t for everybody though, which is why we need to also encourage apprenticeship, vocational, and workforce training programs.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Whether it’s the trash on the ground or the carbon in the air, our actions are having a direct impact on the condition of our planet. That is why we must work swiftly and diligently to protect our lands, invest in clean energy production, and set higher standards for clean water and air. Combating our changing climates helps our farmers and the U.S. agricultural economy.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Clearly, our agricultural industry relies on the hard work of immigrants. Our immigration system is incredibly inefficient and broken. Average wait times can be up to 10 years or more. While we need strict vetting procedures, we should create an immigration system that is both fair and efficient for those willing to work to achieve the American dream.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I support equal pay legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act which will address the shameful discrepancy in pay for women and people of color.


Candidate: Michael J Kalagias

Running for United States House of Representatives (AR-3)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1st: Currently most of the Ag. Dept. budget goes to SNAP(Food Stamps). I would push to eliminate this and replace it with a “commodities” program where the government buys directly from the farmers (with some price support built in).   These would then be distributed in appropriate form to food banks, schools, charities, the military, and foreign aid.  2nd: I would limit the aid and subsidies to large industrial Agri-business and shift focus to family farms where such aid belongs. 3rd: I would work on freedom to farm reforms.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Improve agricultural education so the next generation is ready to competently take over. Ensure no inheritance tax becomes a barrier to the next generation taking over the farm.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Simplify the programs so they are easier to access, fewer in number, and broader in scope. Eliminate barriers/hurdles that made such programs necessary to begin with.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

This is the same problem faced by many small business owners. Government meddling has caused the cost of health care and health insurance to become unaffordable to the working class. I would work tirelessly to repeal much of the current government meddling so that more private insurance options would be available and the cost of care and insurance would become affordable.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Discourage requirements for a degree to get into farming while increasing agricultural education at the high school level. Decrease access to loans that have inflated the cost of education while trapping students in burdensome debt.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

There is nothing Congress can do to effect climate change. Weather and weather pattern changes have always been a challenge to farmers.  The Dept. of Ag. should make all data and research available to assist farmers in dealing with such things, but beyond that there isn’t much Congress can do.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Immigration policy should be limited to keeping threats out of the country. Those willing to work should be permitted to do so. At the same time, we should be encouraging more native-born people to enter the workforce; including farm labor.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Ensure those that engage in such discrimination are prosecuted for it.

 

Arizona

Candidate: Nicolas “Nick” Pierson

Running for United States House of Representatives (AZ-3)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1. Addressing need for work permits for AG Workers from Mexico.  2. Address problem with wait lines for workers to cross at border.  3. Address regulations hurting Agriculture

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Work on a long term plan that will address the need to keep enough farmland to meet our Nations and the Worlds Food needs.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Improve communication with young farmers by working with AG Associations, FFA, 4H and Educational institutions to communicate with and help our young Farmers with this information.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Perhaps, one solution would be for AG associations and groups to offer health plans to their members.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

College Debt is a National dilemma and not the best fiscal plan.  I would work on programs that would encourage students to work in Ag ehile st the same time working on a degree so they can pay for their education as the work.  It might take longer but being debt free is better, especially if they are to to work a farm which also involves getting into debt.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Ag has always had to deal with Mother Nature.  I would work with the industry associations to modify or improve existing programs that would address these negative impacts in a responsible manner.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

We need a strong migrant worker “work permit” program.  This program will address agriculture’s need for labor and help stop people without permission to get employment here.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Communication and public meetings in the district to address this need.

 

 

Colorado

Candidate: Roger Barris

Running for United States House of Representatives (CO-2)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1. Eliminate the tariffs which have caused retaliatory tariffs against agricultural exports. 2. Phase out price supports/subsidies/crop restrictions on agriculture (including the requirements for ethanol). 3. In general, reduce the regulatory burdens on farmers.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

In general, I don’t think that the government should be involved in this process at all, which is driven by the market and personal choice. If some of this activity is being driven by government action (regulatory, price supports, or otherwise), then I would be a strong advocate for eliminating these.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

These problems are endemic to government programs – they are a feature, not a bug. As I indicated in the answer to an earlier question, I would look to phase these programs out, making this issue moot over time. In the interim, I would be happy to support efforts to streamline these requirements.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

The basic problem with our healthcare system is that it is too damn expensive due to government interference with both the supply and demand of healthcare. The issues are far too numerous to be discussed in 1000 characters – pls see my webpage on this issue (http://www.barris4congress.com/healthcare/). Once free-market reforms have dramatically reduced the cost of healthcare, then the question of who pays for it – the insurance question – will become no more problematic than automobile insurance.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

College education is another example of where the government has massively subsidized an activity and therefore inflated prices. Prices for higher education have risen even faster than healthcare. If we eliminate the subsidies, prices will decline dramatically and the issue of student loans will be greatly reduced. We also have to recognize that there are many cases where college should be replaced by work experience, apprenticeships and vocational training.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I believe that it is advisable to “buy insurance” against the risk of climate change by implementing a carbon tax to incentivize conservation and alternative energy. This carbon tax should replace all existing regulations regarding CO2 emissions – I want a properly incentivized market to deal with this issue and not government regulations. The carbon tax should also be used, dollar for dollar, to reduce other taxes so that it is not a net burden on taxpayers.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

I believe that we should have an extensive “guest worker” program, similar to the Bracero program that we used to have with Mexico, to make it easy and LEGAL for immigrant seasonal and temporary workers to come into the country. I believe that this program should be developed with heavy input from local governments and businesses, particularly from the industries most dependent on immigrant labor (such as agriculture and construction).

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

This is unacceptable. I would be willing to intercede on behalf of all farmers in my district that experienced any form of discrimination. I would also be willing to support any regulatory, legislative or personnel changes necessary to fight this problem. Finally, I would be willing to support legal action to combat discrimination.

 


Candidate: Diane Mitsch Bush

Running for United States House of Representatives (CO-3)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

I support a Farm Bill that actually works for family agriculture. I will protect USDA loan programs that assist family farms, ranches, and small businesses in rural communities. I will invest in resilient and sustainable infrastructure, including technology and methods to help farmers adapt and thrive in a changing climate.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

I’m committed to protecting USDA loan programs that assist family farms, ranches, and small businesses in rural communities. I’ve supported 4H programs, readying the next generation of farmers. In the State House I sponsored HB191194, a bipartisan bill that established tax deductions for those that lease out agricultural assets such as land to beginning farmers and ranchers. In 2015 I was honored as legislator of the year by The Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union and the Colorado Livestock Association for working to remove obstacles to beginning farmers and ranchers.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

USDA programs that share best practices and skills with farmers are an important priority. I support a farm bill with a greater focus on family agriculture, which means more funding for these programs to increase their accessibility and remove barriers to entry. I support expanding access to the educational resources available through the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to broaden the reach and ease of use of these programs.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I believe in affordable, quality health care for all. I will support universal single-payer because it’s the best way to improve care while reducing costs – especially on the Western Slope, where premiums are rising unacceptably fast. By negotiating with drug companies for cheaper medicine and pushing for more funding for rural health clinics and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), we can make health care more affordable and accessible for everybody.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

The mounting costs of paying for education are a real challenge. In Colorado, I helped cap yearly tuition increases at 6% for state public universities and colleges. I also co-sponsored a rural veterinary education loan repayment program to incentivize young veterinarians t move to rural areas of Colorado.  I would support a variety of measures to reduce the burden of college student loans such as lowering interest rates, starting programs that could incentivize young teacher, doctors and others to come to rural areas and get their loans forgiven. I would support community and public service as alternatives to having to pay back student loans. I would also support letting students consolidate debt to reduce their interest payments, and strongly support real, enforceable regulation on payday lenders and student loan companies to keep them from exploiting their borrowers.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

We must work on climate change now. It is a serious threat to the agricultural sector and communities across the United States. I’ve been guided by evidence over ideology for my entire career and will respond to these threats by taking the best available science and resources and making them available for farmers to mitigate damage and adapt for the future. I support increasing funding for USDA regional climate hubs, which improve resiliency through programs including cover crop management, assessments and regional forecasts, and technical support for land managers. I also helped write the Colorado Water Plan and am committed to ensuring sustainable, flowing rivers that provide clean water for farmers and ranchers. I will join the bipartisan Climate Caucus.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

I support practical, compassionate, bipartisan, evidence-based immigration reform. I believe we need a predictable path to citizenship and that the stability the laws would provide would benefit our nation’s farms and workers. I will improve work visa programs, and I oppose the militarization of ICE and construction of a border wall. I will work to fix the H2A visa program.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

No Federal Agency should be allowed to discriminate against anybody, based on anything. I support equal pay for equal work and will support national enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment. I will work to ensure discrimination based on gender, sexual preference, religion, race or ethnicity is absolutely prohibited. I recognize that historically underserved farmers and ranchers have struggled to fully access government services and believe our agriculture programs must be funded sufficiently so that these opportunities are available for all farmers.

 


Candidate: Mary Malarsie

Running for United States House of Representatives (CO-3)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Labor, Water, and Removing “Red Tape” *Increased Education Overall*

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Incentivize small farming so younger generations will see it as a way to stay on the farm and make a living

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Modernize and streamline government forms. Implement advertising and education on what is available.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

My Medicare for everyone approach to health insurance.  I think we need a system where everyone pays something, not some paying for everyone.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

As mentioned before, incentive’s for young small farmers could help here too. The cost of public education overall must be address.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Yes, Climate Change is real and needs to be addressed on a national level. Education on changing habits like rotation, water, and pesticide use to adapt to current conditions.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Immigration laws need to be revamped so that immigrants already working and obeying the laws of this country should have an easier way to become citizens.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

All people are created equal. Discrimination is the USDA should not be tolerated and violators should face consequences.

 

 

Connecticut

Candidate: John B. Larson

Running for United States House of Representatives (CT-1)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Programs that support the smaller, family farms in Connecticut (such as Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, specialty crops, and the Organic Agriculture Program). Protecting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that helps over 277,000 food insecure households in my congressional district. Pushing solutions like my ACTION for National Service Act (H.R. 3140), helping lessen the student loan debt many young people face when looking to further their education by forgiving debt in exchange for public service.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Congress should begin by fully funding training programs that mentor new farmers, such as the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, to ensure that more young people are encouraged and able to get into farming as the older generation of farmers retire. Congress must also support conservation easements that preserve more land for farming and conservation purposes to ensure that when someone retires and is looking to sell their land or pass it down to their heirs – there are incentives to keep it as productive farmland and maybe even incentives to help a beginning farmer get their start.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

In addition to fully funding the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to ensure that we are supporting robust state/local outreach to young farmers, we should be listening to their ideas on how these programs could better serve them. Today’s young farmers are entrepreneurs and we should encourage their innovative approaches to building and growing sustainable businesses.  It should be a coordinated federal, state, and local effort to identify and then come up solutions to the issues beginning farmers face in their specific communities. The needs of a beginning farmer in Iowa will differ from those of someone in our state. In Connecticut, we’d want to work with partners like our local land-grant university and gear programs to the smaller, diversified farms that are more common in New England or specialty crops like shellfish or tobacco leaves.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

We must protect the progress made since the ACA became law, but also work to improve accessibility and affordability for more people. I am proud to have introduced the Medicare Buy-In & Health Care Stabilization Act (H.R. 3748) to allow Americans, ages 50-64, to buy into Medicare. This would allow those who have faced some of the highest premium increases access the popular Medicare program. The remaining ACA consumers would be younger and healthier. The would make quality health care more affordable to young people buying their own insurance.   I am also one of the leads for the Medicare-X Choice Act (H.R. 4094) to create a public option on the ACA exchanges in phases to minimize disruptions. The public option would launch in 2020 in counties with one or zero plans offered on the exchanges. In the third year, the option would be made available everywhere. In 2024, it would be added to the Small Business exchange to help growing businesses (like farms) provide health care benefits.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

By pushing solutions like my bill, the ACTION for National Service Act (H.R. 3140) to help address student loan debt through the promotion of national service. It’s simple: for every year of service, you’d get two years of in-state college tuition to use at the school of your choice (including trade schools) or to pay down your loans. Not only would this help our young people – including beginning farmers – crushed by student loan debt, but it would also be a huge investment towards tackling our national priorities. My plan would help support one million volunteers across the country and for every $1 invested in national service programs, there would be a $4 rate of return to the community. Those in agriculture would be uniquely qualified to serve food insecure communities, in the Conservation Corps, or to help rebuild agricultural lands after a natural disaster.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Congress has a responsibility to address the causes and consequences of climate change. I have a plan to address both the destructive consequences of climate change and our nation’s crumbling infrastructure by taxing pollution at its source through a carbon tax (the America Wins Act, H.R. 4209). It would reinvest part of that revenue towards creating 22 million jobs – including helping workers in coal and other industries transition to new clean energy jobs and rebuilding roads, bridges, levees, and other structures needed to mitigate the impact of natural disasters.    In the aftermath of a natural disaster, Congress must make disaster aid available immediately, while long-term mitigation efforts are enacted to protect against future threats. In Connecticut, I am proud to have fought for a variety of aid to farmers after disastrous storms and flooding – from the Small Business Administration loans to providing temporary waivers for farmers whose crops were uninsured.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress must come together to pass comprehensive immigration reform that is jobs-focused, humane, and provides people, like the 800,000 young DREAMERs, a pathway to citizenship. Comprehensive immigration reform must also recognize the growing need in agricultural sectors for guest workers, especially as our own workforce grows older.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I will continue to fight any law, proposal, or regulation that would allow people to be discriminated against based on their race, ethnicity, gender, or faith. All farmers should have equal opportunity to support and services, especially indigenous farmers or farmers of color.

 


Candidate: Joe Courtney

Running for United States House of Representatives (CT-2)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

One of my top priorities in Congress is the Young Farmer Success Act—bipartisan legislation that I introduced with a colleague. It would allow a full-time farm employee or manager of qualified farmers to be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. I am also concerned about land access for new farmers, given how expensive land is and how leasing land can often be an unreliable solution. Thus I remain committed to the conservation programs in the Farm Bill that will preserve farmland for future generations. Lastly, as a co-chairman of the Dairy Caucus, I continue to advocate for our small multi-generational family-owned dairies. With the price of milk going down and the cost of energy rising, dairy farms are struggling to make ends meet. I’ve been working with colleagues to improve the Dairy Margin Protection Program for farmers in areas with higher operating costs and have urged the Administration to pull back on trade fights with Mexico—our largest dairy export market.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

One of the top concerns I hear from young farmers in my district is their struggle to access land to farm. Two years ago, I hosted a young farmer roundtable and brought together farmers, the FSA, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, and farm credit agencies to discuss the problem of land access. As farmland ownership shifts to younger generations, it is critical that the federal government and state departments of agriculture work together to keep the land in farming—this is why I continuously support increased funding for FSA farm ownership loans and NRCS conservation easement programs.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

As younger people enter into the farming industry, I believe the USDA must work towards creating more digitized and user-friendly services. In Connecticut, I maintain close relationships with our state’s NRCS and FSA officers as a means to help connect young farmers with the services they need. On the federal level, I will continue to work with my colleagues to direct USDA through a Farm Bill reauthorization to continue its effort to move more services online.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

As small business owners and employees, the financial impact of rising health care costs hits farmers especially hard. The ACA was a historic leap forward in the ongoing fight to expand quality coverage to more Americans, including farmers. However, it has not fixed every problem that plagues our system. I introduced a resolution calling for the creation of a public option to be offered on the exchanges to inject competition and keep premiums down. I have also fought against the Republican party’s sabotage of the law, in part by introducing the Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act, which would stabilize the ACA marketplaces by establishing a reinsurance program for the individual market and improving the cost sharing reduction subsidies to help families pay for out of pocket costs. These efforts to bolster the marketplaces will help keep premiums affordable for the families that rely on this coverage.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

We are facing an agricultural crisis as farmers continue to age without a influx of young farmers stepping in to take their place. Recent legislative proposals reflect this concern as more efforts are being taken to make farming attractive to our younger generation. To this end, I am currently working closely with my colleague, Glenn Thompson, to advance the aforementioned Young Farmer Success Act, which will help make higher education more affordable for those seeking careers in our nation’s agriculture industry. As a compliment, Rep. Thompson and I offered an amendment during committee markup of the PROSPER Act—the Republican reauthorization of the Higher Education Act—that would restore PSLF (which the proposed bill ended) and add young farmers into the definition. In addition, I worked with Education & the Workforce Committee Democrats to include language in the Aim Higher Act—the Democratic higher education reauthorization proposal—that would add young farmers to the PSLF program.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I disagree with those in Congress who believe the EPA should not take any action to address climate change. By doing nothing, we will continue to emit millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, causing massive destruction to agricultural communities. The projected 4-5% rise in temperatures over the next 100 years is projected to produce degrading air quality, increased rain, rising sea levels, and flood damage along the coast. We can no longer sit by while the rest of the world seeks new strategies to mitigate this. As the world’s 2nd largest carbon polluter, it is incumbent upon us to take a stand. I strongly supported the 2016 Paris Accord and was deeply disappointed that President Trump reversed our nation’s commitment. I joined nearly 200 of my colleagues in introducing HR 390 to express our disapproval. I will continue to work with my colleagues to help find solutions to alleviate lost crop yields and help find programs to provide farmers with the technical assistance they need.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

As farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain American workers for labor-intensive agricultural positions, workers from other countries have provided the labor American farms need. Demand for seasonal farmworkers has increased nearly 15% year over year, since 2012.  However, delays in the H2-A visa process have resulted in delayed arrivals of foreign workers, resulting in millions of dollars in losses for U.S. farms. The H-2A program requires reform to ensure that certification requests are processed by the Department of Labor with enough time for employing farms to complete the necessary paperwork and secure visas for these workers. Any reforms to H-2A should ensure that the health and safety of farmworkers is protected, and this necessary labor force is not exploited.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I will continue to be supportive of farming programs that support historically underserved populations at USDA. I believe that programs like the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program under NIFA provide critical resources to our most underserved farming communities. I supported new supports for these programs in the 2014 Farm Bill and will continue to advocate for increased funding and flexibility in the 2018 Farm Bill and through the appropriations process.


Candidate: Rosa DeLauro

Running for United States House of Representatives (CT-3)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

I will prioritize reforms to our farm safety net to ensure more support is made to family and small-scale farms rather than large agribusinesses by tightening eligibility and payment limitations for Farm Bill programs. Family farms are the backbone of local food systems. However, the Northeast has recently lost 1,600 dairy farms–ten of which were lost in Connecticut. Also, we must add to the progress we have made on food safety by continuing investments in USDA’s Food Safety Outreach Program, which provides grants for FSMA training to help farmers comply with new rules. Consumers are not the only ones impacted by food outbreaks and farmers, even those who are not implicated in food outbreaks, often lose sales revenues during outbreaks. Finally, I support robust investment in agricultural research and development. While returns to agricultural research have been estimated to be 20:1, our country’s research spending has stagnated and we have been surpassed by countries like China.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Farmland transition is an issue of national importance because it has implications on the future of agriculture. Because purchasing farmland is an expensive and risky endeavor, young and beginning farmers face challenges in farmland ownership. With this in mind, I will continue to support set-asides for young, beginning, and small farmers in important USDA programs, such as farm ownership and operating loans. Additionally, I welcome efforts to preserve land in agriculture. A recent analysis by America’s Farmland Trust found that in the 20 years between 1992 and 2012, the United States lost 31 million acres of farmland. In our state, the Connecticut Farmland Preservation Program has preserved over 41,500 acres across 315 farms.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

The needs and challenges faced by young and beginning farmers are unique, and therefore I believe farm programs must be designed differently in order to best serve them. As a member of the 2008 Farm Bill Conference Committee, I worked to create the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). The BFRDP develops and offers education, training, outreach and mentoring programs designed to meet the needs of farmers starting in agriculture. Along with these kinds of outreach efforts, I also supported USDA’s decision to establish the Microloan Program, which is primarily used by small farms, beginning farmers and ranchers, veterans, and farmers from historically socially disadvantaged groups. The Microloan Program is designed to be more convenient and accessible to young farmers because it streamlines the application process and creates flexibility among loan requirements.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Given the nature of the work in agriculture, it is vitally important that young farmers and ranchers have quality, affordable healthcare coverage. I am a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act, which provides health insurance for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and ensures that they will not be charged more for it. Additionally, I recognize that there are common sense steps we can take to improve affordability. For example, eliminating the cap on the eligibility for insurance premium tax credits, which is currently set at 400 percent of the federal poverty line, will increase the size of the tax credit for all income brackets. I also am in favor of providing additional support for out-of-pocket costs by expanding eligibility for cost-sharing subsidies from 250 percent of the federal poverty line to 400 percent, and making cost-sharing subsidies more generous for those below 250 percent of the federal poverty line.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Today, American farmers are more highly educated than at any point before. This education has improved farm management decisions and made operations more efficient. Unfortunately, degrees beyond high school often come with the burdens of student loan debt. Faced with this burden, it can be challenging for beginning farmers to start and expand their agriculture operations. Earlier this year, my Connecticut colleagues Senator Chris Murphy and Representative Joe Courtney introduced legislation to create a loan forgiveness program for beginning farmers and ranchers. I am supportive of their legislation, as well as broader proposals to make college education more affordable.  

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I strongly believe that efforts to address global climate change must be prioritized before­­­ the damage is irreversible. A bipartisan coalition in Congress recognizes this existential threat, and we need to work together to promote policies reducing the very emissions that contribute to climate change, increases in natural disasters, and changes in weather patterns. We also have a responsibility to assist those whose livelihoods are impacted by climate change, including farmers. In the short term, I support efforts to assist farmers who choose to make investments in projects to make their operations more resilient. In the longer term, we can help farmers adapt by investing in agriculture research to increase the availability of things like drought-resistant crop varieties and to develop new technologies, such as advanced irrigation and draining systems, which will lessen the impact of severe weather events.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Without question, Congress needs to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to legal citizenship. Our country’s current immigration system is broken and that has put a strain on sectors of our economy that rely migrant workers, like agriculture. However, I strongly oppose proposals that would weaken protections for farmworkers, regardless of whether they are foreign or domestic born.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

This issue is one of fundamental fairness—all farmers, regardless of their gender or ethnicity—should be judged on the merit of their applications for assistance from USDA. In previous years, I have witnessed firsthand the discrimination and unnecessary hardship for women, and other minorities. In Congress, I worked side by side with my colleague Rep. Anna Eshoo to not only end discrimination at USDA, but to ensure that those harmed received reimbursement for their losses. As a member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, I have direct oversight of USDA. The best way to ensure all farmers receive equal support and services is to hold Administration officials accountable—and I remain committed to that work.


Candidate: Manny Santos

Running for United States House of Representatives (CT-5)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Resolve illegal immigration and the method(s) used to verify legal status, as well as improve the H-2A visa process. Secondly, Work with the Administration to renegotiate trade agreements to make it easier and more economical to export. Thirdly, work with the Administration to reduce regulations that make it very expensive to operate a farm; especially addressing the Obama-Era “clean water rule,” which regulates almost every water imaginable.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Eliminate the inheritance tax and implement business-friendly legislation/regulations.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Remove the need to apply for the programs and improve how the state communicates with the federal government.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

ACA has been disastrous. I support repealing it or overhaul it. This is an issue impacting the entire economy of this country, so must be addressed in a much larger scale. My website www.santosforcongress.com, goes into further detail about this.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Firstly, we need to be honest with ourselves and everyone; student debt is largely self-imposed. Many don’t want to hear this, but there are way too many examples of people obtaining a degree without large student debt. Too many chose a degree that does not justify the cost of obtaining it (sometimes due to the school selected, sometimes due to the profession), aka, return on investment. Secondly, some colleges are simply not meant for for everyone. Maybe students who are less likely to be able to pay for college should consider a community college or a state school. Having said all this, I do believe college has become much more expensive than it once was. Many factors probably contribute to this, but having an honest discussion in congress as to why it has become so expensive, might be a discussion/debate worth having.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I do not subscribe to the belief that climate change is exclusively man-made and that it requires enormous amounts of regulation and/or funds to address it.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Part of the answer is contained in a previous question. We must solve our illegal immigration problem now, at the same time, consider a long-term H-2A-like visa program.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I don’t see it as distinctive from other sectors of our economy. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter where it occurs. Enforcement of our laws should be uniform.


Candidate: Matthew Corey

Running for United States Senate, Connecticut

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

I would advocate for the removal of The Food Stamps Program from the Farm Bill. I was also make sure subsidies only go to Farmers in need and not wasted on certain sectors of the industry that doesn’t need them. I would also advocate for the removale of harmful regulations that hurt our Farming industry.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Estate tax is destroying potential for young farmers to continue family farms. I would advocate for loan assistance for potential farmers.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

By making sure we all work in a bipartisan manner to make sure these policies get implemented and are aesily accessed by farmers.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

AHP’s are helping small business owners and selfemployeed.We need to look at programs similiar to help out farmers. Our mission must be to reduce the cost of health care.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Students must take a personal resposibility in what degrees they take. They must understand the costs of College and the profession they choose. they must understand the will salries in the profession they pursue will be enough to sustain the price of the education cost.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Farming Insurance programs must address these hurdles.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

We must make it easier for migrant workers to obtain work permits. We must make it easier for people to work so farmers can fill there employment needs.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

We must make it easier for farmers to report discrimination by the USDA.


Candidate: Chris Murphy

Running for United States Senate, Connecticut

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

As a Senator Connecticut, my top priority is working to continue shifting the focus of the USDA away from large, monocrop farms to better serve the needs of Connecticut’s smaller, diverse farmers. Currently, part of this work is addressing the needs Connecticut’s struggling dairy farmers and that’s why I have worked closely with USDA over the past few years to expand assistance for dairy farmers. I also recently voted for a Senate farm bill and budget deal that will hopefully provide a lifeline to dairy farmers struggling with low milk prices.    Secondly, since 25% of Connecticut’s farmers are new farmers, I will continue working to expand programs and funding that support beginning farmers. This includes expanding programs for socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers.   Thirdly, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I believe one of the ways I can best deliver for Connecticut farmers is to increase funding for agriculture.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

America’s aging farm workforce is an problem for food security and for our continued ability to grow high-quality crops in the U.S. We need to make it easier for new farmers to enter farming, buy their own farms, and grow their businesses. I was proud to vote for a Farm Bill that provided $50 million per year in permanent funding for a new program that will provide training and technical assistance to beginning and underserved farmers. The bill also allows beginning farmers who enroll in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program the option to receive 50% of their payment upfront. Finally, the bill creates a new National Beginning Farmer Coordinator, as well as state level coordinators. I have regularly advocated for this proposal as part of the annual appropriation process and look forward to championing funding for these new positions.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

I would encourage every young farmer in Connecticut to check out UCONN’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. In 2016, I was happy to announce that because of a new $600,000 USDA grant, the program was able to re-open and start helping young Connecticut farmers. The program at UCONN provides new farmers with mentoring, training, and funding for their own projects. In my role on the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will make sure programs like this continue to receive funding and advocacy in Washington.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I believe that the Affordable Care Act was the first big step toward fixing our broken health care system. It is no secret that the law did not solve the problem entirely and we see everyday new attempts by the Trump Administration to unravel the successes we already have. That’s why I believe we need another plan to cover people like young farmers and ranchers, who couldn’t find an exchange in their area or still found coverage expensive. I proposed a bill that would allow any individual or business to buy into Medicare at any time. Medicare is popular and cost-effective and there is no reason why it should be reserved for people over 65.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

As one of the few members of the Senate who still has student loans, this issue remains a top priority for me. That’s why I introduced a bill to provide student loan forgiveness for young farmers. Farmers who work in farming for ten years would be eligible to have their loans forgiven. The bill is specifically targeted for new farmers, women, veterans, and minorities.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I absolutely believe Congress should address changing climates. I support large-scale efforts to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and accelerate the adoption of clean energy technologies through legislation and sensible regulation like President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. I believe it is important to work with other countries to address climate change on the largest scale, which is why I supported the Paris Climate Agreement. I also believe the USDA should help farmers adapt to changing climates by promoting climate smart agriculture. While the Trump Administration has not done enough to promote climate smart agriculture, I will continue to advocating for these programs and outreach within the USDA. I also support increased funding for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, which provides farmers with funding to make upgrades on their farm that help the environment.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

It is clear that our immigration system is broken and I support addressing the numerous necessary legislative fixes to our immigration policy comprehensively. In 2013 I voted for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that put certain undocumented farm workers, their families, and H-2A recipients on a pathway to citizenship.  The bill also made reforms to the existing H-2A program. This Congress, I cosponsored the Agricultural Worker Program Act that would accomplish similar goals.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I am proud that the programs in the Senate-passed 2018 Farm Bill for beginning farmers are also available to socially disadvantaged farmers. I will continue to support expanding and increasing funding for programs that serve socially disadvantaged farmers.


Delaware

Candidate: Lisa Blunt Rochester

Running for United States House of Representatives (DE-00)

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

My three priorities are: 1) Passing a comprehensive, bipartisan farm bill which provides much needed stability and consistency for our farmers. 2) Protecting American farmers from becoming collateral damage in a trade war. I’ve introduced legislation, HR 6483, the Trade Assistance for Farmers Act, which provides trade relief for our farmers. 3) While healthcare is broadly a top priority of mine and the majority of Delawareans, from an agricultural perspective, I have a deep
concern for the next generation in farming. For some farmers there are no children or grandchildren to pass their farms down to; current farmers are facing major stressors and need mental health resources; and many young people looking to get into farming are facing barriers to entry that need to be addressed. I’m working hard in Congress to identify opportunities to break down those barriers to sustain current farmers and assist young farmers.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

The Agriculture industry is diverse and comprehensive. It is also urban, rural and global. For those reasons, I find it to be vital and exciting. We need to instill this sense of excitement into young people at an early age in our schools and communities. Farmers are a key part of the global supply chain that puts food on our table and my colleagues and I need to better promote farming to reverse this aging trend for farmers. Specifically, we should help young farmers access capital to purchase land and equipment to start their own farming operation or modernize an existing one without having to go deep into debt. Additionally, we should also find ways to encourage young people to choose farming as a viable career.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

I believe working with the USDA we can better promote new and existing outreach programs for young farmers. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee and the first Delawarean to serve on the committee in over 120 years, I have made it my priority to reach out to the farmers in Delaware, our land grant institutions and our state USDA representatives to discuss local programs. It gives the Delaware farmers a chance to hear from USDA, and USDA a chance to hear from farmers about their challenges and successes.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Health insurance is the number one issue I hear about when traveling across my state. I believe everyone should have access to quality healthcare at an affordable price. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made major strides in allowing everyone access to healthcare. While no piece of legislation is perfect, the ACA took important steps in lowering cost and stabilizing our healthcare system more broadly. For example, young farmers can stay on their parent’s insurance until the age of 26 and since most young farmers have moderate incomes, the ACA provides access to health insurance. Most young farmers and ranchers access health insurance through the individual health insurance marketplace and we need to continue to make reforms and changes to help stabilize that marketplace to ensure that healthcare is both accessible and affordable.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

In general, student loans have become a reality for students all across our country. The United States has reached a milestone of $1.5 trillion of student loan debt. I’ve worked hard in the House Committee on Education & The Workforce on a Higher Education Reauthorization to help alleviate the problem of student loan debt. I’ve worked to ensure that students are able to access federal funds to pay for college through my simple FAFSA Bill, HR 4416. In addition, I’ve been proud to support the Young Farmers Success Act, which qualifies farming and ranching as a public service job for purposes of student loan forgiveness. Student loan debt should not prevent young people from pursuing a career in farming.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I believe every Member of Congress should recognize and address the scientific reality of climate change. I’ve heard about this issue directly from Delaware farmers. We should also work to mitigate the damage of climate change by ensuring adequate crop insurance for our farmers and maintaining conservations programs that work effectively.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Regardless of party affiliation, many in our country believe we need comprehensive immigration reform that ensures our borders and ports of entry are secure, while also recognizing our labor needs for migrant workers are very real. With those goals in mind, we need a visa system that recognizes those needs and allows those workers to be here legally.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

All farmers deserve equal access to supports and services. During my first term, I have attended “Women in Ag” events and learned about mentoring programs and resources. In addition, I’ve held a roundtable conversation with African-American farmers in Delaware. These meetings pointed out the fact that there is room for growth and information sharing, and opportunities to reach out to diverse groups. As a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, I also met with Secretary Sonny Perdue to discuss past allegations of discrimination and his plans for improvement. I will continue to work to ensure that all farmers can thrive.


Florida

Candidate: Yvonne Hayes Hinson

Running for United States House of Representatives (FL-3)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Famers are the lifeblood of our existence, so I want to implement policies that will protect them and their businesses. My top 3 priorities are to first put scientist back in the EPA. We need an EPA that is capable to do the job assigned to them, protecting our environment and the people who interact with it. Secondly, we must reform the FDA. We need to examine what we are allowing to go into our foods. Lastly, we need to work with farmers to expand opportunities of increasing nutritious crop return without the use of harmful pesticides, increase in water use efficiency, and environmentally conscious land stewardship.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

We must improve in-person outreach with our current USDA staff to ensure that young farmers have access to the resources they need. We must increase farmer training, farmland protection, and new market opportunities. I would like to implement a program within the USDA that helps farmers prepare for the transitioning of the farm, focusing on keeping it in the family and continuing the legacy that they worked hard for. It is important that we protect the resources, communities, and economies that these young farmers steward.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

It starts by making sure these resources are accessible to everyone. We must work together to make the process simple and efficient so that more people are able to apply, and it doesn’t take long to get started in the programs offered. This starts by moving the application process to an online platform this will help to streamline the application process making it more available to rural farmers.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I would push for the passage of HR 676 which would guarantee healthcare for every American regardless of pre-existing conditions.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

We need to work with our department of education on Student Debt reform. There are many students suffering because of this issue and it shouldn’t be. I look to promote a system with debt relief efforts as well as a comprehensive debt repayment plan. To help young farmers get on their feet and ensure their success in the future

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Yes, climate change is real, and it needs to be addressed by all levels of government. As a member of Congress, I would promote the efforts of the USDA’s EQIP program. I would increase access to EQIP funds for beginning farmers to help push conservation efforts in the agriculture industry. I would initiate resources that curtail greenhouse gas emissions that promote global warming as well as initiate innovations to young farmers that increase sustainability. Additionally, I would support renewable energy to counter climate change. It is important that fund efforts to educate farmers on the important role they play in conservation efforts.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

We need an immigration policy that is compassionate to the needs of migrant workers. It is important that they feel supported by our government so that can provide for their families through the agricultural sector. We must provide an immigration system that has a guaranteed pathway to citizenship for undocumented farm workers. Foreign born farm workers are an essential part of our agricultural workforce and they should not be intimidated, discriminated against, or disenfranchised in their pursuits for a sustainable livelihood.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

There is no place in a governmental agency for discrimination. I would start with being transparent. We must make demographic data available so that we know who is getting the resources and who is not. We must make sure that resources and funds are being distributed equally. We must also support first-time farmers to help preserve communities of color through agriculture.


Candidate: Al Lawson

Running for United States House of Representatives (FL-5)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Eliminating Food Deserts, Minimizing Agricultural Waste, and Providing Agricultural Employment to Veterans

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Congress should address this by working with groups like Future Farmers of America and academia to develop Agricultural programs that provide federal resources & appeal to young people. Agriculture is a staple of economic growth in our country and has the potential to attract new farmers if they are educated properly, taught the necessary skills needed to cultivate lands and harvest products.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

As with recruitment, the answer lies in education. Developing programs to streamline the application process while also educating the 21st century farmers on all the resources available to them. The knowledge needed to be a successful farmer, or develop successful agricultural products through farming, needs to be readily available in school, not simply passed on by word of mouth.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I would address this problem by continuing to protect the Affordable Care Act, which has helped insure over 11 million people.  Affordable healthcare should be in the reach of everyone, and preserving the ACA is key to that.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

As a Congressman, I have introduced a bill that would allow students to refinance student loans at a lower rate. Additionally, I have filed legislation to create a small business grant to our veterans to provide tax breaks for them to have careers in agriculture and farming.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I believe Congress must act to address climate change. Policies designed to protect our environment should be instated and followed. As a state legislator, I helped work through the BP oil spill and as a US Rep I dealt with the damage cause by Hurricane Irma and helped the First Coast get back on its feet. I will show that same dedication to farmers harmed by climate change and natural disasters.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

I believe we as a nation need to regulate our immigration, but I find the current zero tolerance immigration policy to be disgraceful. American farms rely on foreign labor, and stopping people who just want to work on farms hurt all of us.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

As a proud member of the Congressional Black Caucus, I have never wavered in my support of minorities. I have worked to enshrine the history of the civil rights movement and help anyone who comes to my office, regardless of race, gender, age, religion, or sexual orientation. My office has handled discrimination cases in the past and worked to fight against systemic racism and bias.

Georgia

Candidate: David Callahan

Running for United States House of Representatives (GA-13)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

support Family Farming via Education, Tax Policy, and Banking Policy

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Reduce Paper Work. Make sure USDA agents are serving their clients.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Promote Insurance Purchasing Groups for Farmers and other Entrepreneurial Groups

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

We need to address the high, and increasing costs of college and university in the U.S.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Issues of crop insurance have not yet been studied.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

We have many low and non-skilled Americans who should be filling these jobs. Reforming the welfare system will increase American Worker participation in farming.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Past and current lawsuits are not necessarily indicative of reality!


Candidate: Martin Cowen

Running for United States House of Representatives (GA-13)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Reduce Federal regulations, reduce or eliminate Federal taxes, reduce or eliminate Federal corporate welfare

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Stop subsidizing large agribusiness. Stop creating regulations to support large agribusiness and hurt small farmers

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Eliminate USDA completely. No Federal welfare programs

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

All Federal healthcare policy is designed to subsidize and support large healthcare providers. Completely remove the Federal government from healthcare/health insurance

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Eliminate Student Loan program completely. Make existing debt dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Climate change is a hoax designed to justify government power grab

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Not a problem. We love all productive people. Private generosity will care for those adults who cannot be productive due to injury, disease, or illness

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Eliminate the USDA completely.

Illinois

Candidate: Randy Auxier

Running for United States House of Representatives (IL-12)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

I am worried about big corporations (e.g., Monsanto) patenting GMO’s and then suing people whose crop cross-polinates. Climate change and run-ff are other issues.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

I believe we should encourage small family owned farms and make it possible for them to compete.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Bureaucracy is a fact of life. I think the USDA could be friendlier to small farmers and less in the grips of big corporations, but there will be bureaucracy either way.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Single-payer universal healthcare is what I support.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

I believe in initiating a program to forgive all college debt and to make college affordable for all without debt.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I think it may be the most important issue the world faces at this time. Yes, we must cooperate with other countries to decrease greenhouse emissions.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

I believe in a liberal immigration policy, with almost no restrictions of movement across the northern and southern borders of the US, and working with Mexico and Canada to insure cooperation on hemispheric security.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Such discrimination is illegal already. It needs to be enforced.


Candidate: Bill Fawell

Running for United States House of Representatives (IL-17)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

#1 is helping young farmers owner the farms as the older farmers retire. Six out of 7 farmers are 65 and older and 10% of our nations farmland will change hands in 2018. 2) Next is healthcare. Pass the REINS Act, which my opponent voted against is a big step in that direction.  3) Finally, is sustainable farming and the Farm Bill. My opponent voted against it, I support it. To this I would add a 4th issue, and that is the continued viability of our volunteer fire depts. They have been in a crisis stage for 10 years and I am the only candidate for Congress in the United States that is not only aware of the problem, but I am writing legislation to save the volunteer fire dept system.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

I think the cap on subsidies would go a long way to dissuading big city investor money from getting into farmland and squeezing the local young farmer out of the market. USDA loans are already focused on the working farmer, this should also flow into the support structures to sustain them. For too long big checks have been going to Manhattan and encourages them to compete for land they can little for adding to the challenges of sustainable farming.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

I think most people are aware of the programs that come through the local banks, and it’s really the banks that promote the USDA program. While these programs are weighted towards the local farmer, the insurance programs are not and encourage city investor competition in land.  There needs to be a ceiling to stop too many government farming checks from being sent to New York City and Chicago.  We have to be careful in creating this ceiling so we don’t hurt local farmers, but I am aware of East and West Coast money coming in and buying large tracts of farm land in my district that pushes prices beyond what real market conditions support. Our government’s current monetary policies in no way support 90% of we American “deplorables”. I think this is a direction few have the courage to pursue. I have a video on my website called the Orderly Removal and Replacement of the Federal Reserve Bank, which is why I get so little support from the Swamp… because I represent the people.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

BINGO!!!  Pass the REINS Act; instant campaign finance and healthcare reform, which my opponent has voted against the two times it has been passed in the House, but defeated in the Senate.  It requires any federal agency law effecting $100 billion worth of the economy to go through the Congress to become law.  Today the FDA assigns monopoly’s to Big Pharma for generic drugs that comprise 90% of all prescriptions by 1000% or more.  This causes insurance costs to rise commensurately.  The devil is in the details and I root them out and work to solve them.  Common sense goes a long way.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Get the government out of backing education finance that drives up the costs and sends too many of the wrong people to college to learn English lit, social justice courses and underwater basket weaving. Easy money for the colleges allows them to raise their prices and ignore any economy. Easy money has driven administration costs skyrocketing. When I went to college it was $3500 a year at a private school. Today that private school is 10, 20 30 times as high because of easy money from the government leaving the taxpayer with over $1.5 trillion in obligations for this debt the government backs up.

  The problem once again is the government and I’m not going to apply more of the same.  I think these centers of higher education have to live without government money being fed down their throat like a Christmas Goose.  Let market forces determine price.  Higher education is way out of wack just like the Sugar industry today.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Climate change and the “real science” has been proven a fraud more than once. Too many weather reporting stations are in the middle of concrete jungles, often on airports in the wash of jet aircraft. Having said this, I am a big fan of conservation and making better ideas work, but these ideas are not the job of the government to pick its economic winners and losers, because government does a very bad job in making private industry work.

  Government will always support the most politically connected while subverting a truly generational innovation.

I like photovoltaic power generation because the power created is used locally with little power drop loss. Other forms such as windmills, if not used locally, loses too much power in the drop and becomes a tax dodge. Renewables from crops makes sense and so do co-ops making alcohol for cars, and the science behind it is getting better all the time. That’s where you’ll find me. I’m a big fan of Common Sense.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

I’m pretty certain this concerns truck type farming operations in the sunshine states. This has traditionally been solved until recently by annual migrations from Mexico and back during the season. It worked until the government decided to give away the store and give everything to everyone.  Ten years ago the democrats wanted to build a wall on the border and reform immigration.  What happened?  One word… TRUMP.  They hate him so much they’d sell out our nation to get rid of him because they get their money from The SWAMP.

  In farming we drain Swamps.

  On migrant workers, I don’t mean to sound heartless and there are protections we need to guarantee to these migrant farm workers, but I think we do them a disservice by luring them to stay in America instead of taking their earnings back to Mexico and building up their own communities.

  Once again it’s government to the rescue, and again answering the problems created by government with more government isn’t the answer, is it?

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

My primary proposed legislation you can read on my site at electfawell.com is the “Liberty Act” which pushes the powers of the US EPA and USDA back to the states. What is easier for the individual to get in contact with and get a response?  Is it easier to deal with a state agency you can drive to see and its legislators closer to you and your community in your own state; or one single omnipotent agency 1500 miles away… which may as well be 15,000 miles away.

  I intend to push all Public Federal Agency powers back to the people to mirror state agencies for policy and administration; to force Independent/Private Federal Agency powers to make laws back to the Congress.  This is how our Constitution frames our government in Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution.

  These inequalities depends upon who rules over we the people.  Does our government rule over the people, or shall the people rule themselves by ruling over their government?  I am committed to restoring the rule of we the people over our government.


Indiana

Candidate: Tobi Beck

Running for United States House of Representatives (IN-4)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

My top three priorities when it come to food and agricultural policy are making sure that students are fed when they are in school. I strongly support school lunch and breakfast programs because studies have shown that if a student is hungry they are not able to pay attention and will not do as well as their peers. Another of my priorities is focusing on protecting small family farms from policies that can harm them such as tariffs and reductions to farm loan programs. It is also incredibly important that we focus on bring more young people into Ag. We have Purdue University in our district, it is essential that we recruit and champion more young farmers and people who want to work in Ag Technology. Our countries future depends on it.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

It is important to me that there are programs in place to make land and farm transitions accessible for young farmers. We can do things like strengthening our farm loan programs, incentivizing new technology and equipment through tax incentives, and student loan forgiveness for those who go into such an essential occupation. It is important that we take care of the nest generation, because they will take care of us.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

As a Congresswoman, I would have staff on the ground in my district going into communities and seeking out farmers to help educate them on the USDA programs and then assist them in the application process. We need better constituent services in our rural communities. Serving the people of my district is incredibly important to me.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I believe that everyone should have access to good affordable healthcare. As a veteran I am able to get my insurance through TriCare, which pools neighboring states and allows them to negotiate the best cost for us, as consumers. I would like to expand the TriCare model to all Americans. When we pool together, we are better able to negotiate more affordable insurance and care.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Student loan debt is stifling an entire generation. I believe that if you are going into a public service, and farming and agriculture is a public service, there should be a loan forgiveness plan in place. As a Congresswoman, I will fight to lower the cost of education and forgive student loans debts to allow more young people to pursue their passions.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Yes. I believe that climate change is real and that it needs to be addressed on a national scale. I would work to give incentives for farmers to buy more modern, cleaner equipment. I also believe that farmers know best when it comes to new technology and methods. We should convene meetings between climate change scientists and farmers to work together to find solutions.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

It’s well established that our current immigration policies are broken. It is important that we address immigration in a holistic way. We need to talk with industry, including agriculture, to make sure that as we put policies in place that are focusing on doing our best to take care of people. This includes both farmers and the people they employ, whether that is granting temporary employment visas or finding a clear path to citizenship.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I will work to have comprehensive constituency services that address the relationships between farmers, the USDA, and other federal agencies.


Candidate: Jeannine Lee Lake

Running for United States House of Representatives (IN-6)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Legislation to protect local and national farmers from the current trade war with China, combating US withdrawal from NAFTA, and Republican tax cuts which would effect federal agricultural spending.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Congress should require farmers over a certain age to have an estate plan that includes their farm in place so there is easier transferring of lands.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

I believe that Congress should specifically create outreach programs for minorities, women, and veterans who have previously experienced discrimination in farming. Making them aware of programs that can serve them would give them the access they need to run successful farms. An efficient controls system within the USDA would also hopefully increase accountability which would in turn improve delivery of these programs.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I plan to begin legislation that would establish Medicare for All, which would ensure that all citizens have access to quality, basic health insurance to receive the best care they can. This would apply to young farmers as well.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

I plan to establish a student loan forgiveness plan for all federal loans, so that people who have already received their degrees are not forever burdened with that debt. I also wish to establish tuition-free public college, so that future students, and young farmers, will not be saddled with student loan debt that is detrimental to achieving successful future careers.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I do believe that Congress should address changing climates, because if these disasters continues they will have detrimental effects on all aspects of our country, including agriculture. Creating preventative measures should be a priority in protecting ourselves from the impact of these climates. I would also help farmers adapt to this changing climate by fighting for legislation that authorizes sustainable farming practices and gives subsidies to those who use them. This would in turn help farmers and the country.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Immigration policies should emphasize the importance of immigrants holding together our agriculture and infrastructure. It should also create more programs within the USDA that specifically are aimed at aiding immigrants and their farms.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I support and advocate equality for all, so I would create programs that give additional support to women and minorities to make sure they are receiving the resources they need. As a congresswomen, I would also restructure application systems to make it more difficult to discriminate.


Candidate: Tom Ferkinhoff

Running for United States House of Representatives (IN-6)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Open markets (free & fair trade), Property rights for land owners, Migrant labor

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

The government is already too involved in our lives.  For farmers wanting to sell to the next generation we already have lower capital gains taxes and for those that leave ground through inheritance the recent tax bill doubled the exemption.  I don’t see this as an issue that the government needs to address further at this time.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

We live in the age of technology.  Websites need to be clearer and information on applications should carry forward from year to year saving input time.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

As I CPA I have seen this become more of an issue since premiums for young people was increased by the ACA.  I would be in favor of repealing the ACA and returning health insurance to the free market.  If the federal government wants to provide health insurance for everyone they should allow anyone the option to buy into Medicaid and give discounts to low income people (similar to the goal of the ACA).  Those who want traditional health insurance could then purchase it at market rates that are not inflated by government regulation.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Underwrite student loans similar to other loans with the borrower having to show the cost/benefit of the loan.  This should also be the case for those applying for federal grants for education.  This will put the pressure on schools to provide a more cost effective education as they will be more exposed to free market pressures.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

The U.S. has been a world leader at reducing carbon emissions since 2005.  However, climates have been changing throughout history and we know that the impact by humans is only a small portion of what causes climate change.  We need to continue to improve our ability to predict changing climates so that farmers have the info they need to make decisions about their future and the best use of ground in the area where they live.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Farmers who hire migrant workers need to have better access to hiring workers and providing them safe transport to the U.S.  We have embassies and consulates in every country and we need to allow them to coordinate with employment recruiters in those countries to get green cards for those workers that are needed.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

With most interaction now being online the USDA should not even have data on the race and gender of the person they are dealing with.  For those that feel they are being discriminated against my office will always be responsive to any complaints or requests for individual assistance.


Candidate: Joe Donnelly

Running for United States Senate, Indiana

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

I believe it is important that our national food and agricultural policy encourage farms and farmers that are sustainable, both economically and environmentally. To do that we must:  -Help to mitigate agricultural risk.   -Encourage and incentivize good stewardship of all our natural resources.     -Work to develop market opportunities at home and abroad.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Farming of nearly any kind is a capital-intensive pursuit. Decisions on important capital improvements are often simplified when the land is owned by the people who farm, but ownership of land is a long-term investment with especially large capital requirements. It is critical that young and beginning farmers have access to credit that is not unreasonably burdensome. It is important that tax laws and regulatory oversight consider ways to encourage private lenders to work with beginning farmers, while we ensure the Farm Credit System and Farm Service Agency  Farm Loan Programs help to make credit available and competitive.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

I believe we made some significant improvement in the 2014 Farm Bill with some changes in requirements, some streamlining and the FSA Microloan Program. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I worked with my colleagues to help ensure the Senate-passed 2018 farm bill had some further improvements to continue that trend in the new Farm Bill. I would also encourage NYFC members to continue to communicate with their members of congress as well as their state and local FSA offices.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Access to affordable health care is critical for every citizen. For decades, many farm decisions have been based on how to deal with the cost of health insurance. The cost of health insurance has been a key element in the decision of many farmers to stop farming or, short of that, one spouse working off the farm at a job that provides health insurance. For many of those who continue to farm, how to pay for health insurance is one of they largest and most unpredictable costs. The challenges farmers face are yet another reason that Congress must work together to find ways to make our health care system work for everyone, rather than destabilizing the markets farmers rely on with attempts to dismantle the current system.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Even as two and four-year degrees become increasingly important for many Hoosiers interested in entering or remaining in agricultural fields, skyrocketing college costs have far outpaced inflation and put the dream of a college degree out of reach for too many Hoosiers. And this debt crisis isn’t simply limited to students and recent graduates – farming families across Indiana are reaching into savings to help their children pay off student loans, cutting down their margin for error should crop yields or prices plummet in a given year. I’ve reached across the aisle and fought to preserve Pell Grants and the GI Bill, and I’ve combatted predatory lending to veterans to keep the promise of affordable higher education available for every Hoosier. I’ve also worked across the aisle to increase student financial literacy so that younger Hoosiers have the tools they need to ensure they can get their degree without burying themselves under unsustainable debt.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Farmers have always been dependent on factors outside of their control. Even with all of the resources and technology that farmers have today, much of their success is heavily influenced by the weather. Farming is an inherently risky business and, since the first farm bill, one role of government has been to help mitigate those risks.   On the farm, addressing climate change will mean adopting new technologies and techniques that respond to changes in climate and reducing farming’s contribution to the change. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I have been a strong supporter of Cooperative Extension funding, which Purdue University has put to work projecting the impacts of climate change and helping farmers with new techniques that address anticipated increases in early season rains and more frequent extreme temperatures in summer. I have also been a strong supporter of the farm bill’s energy programs, like the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

As I have traveled around visiting farms during my time in the Senate, one of the most frequent topics of conversation has been the need for an immigration system that works better for agriculture. I voted for bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013. The bill included measures to address immigration challenges for agriculture, such as creating “blue-card” program for seasonal ag workers and an agricultural guest worker program that would offer legal status to immigrant farm workers. The bill reflected the importance of foreign-born workers to our nation’s farmers and recognized that those farmers who were following the law shouldn’t be punished for the bad actions of others.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

It is critical that these federal government programs be made available to every individual without discrimination. It is vitally important that we all be vigilant in preventing discrimination and reporting it when it does occur.


Kentucky

Candidate: Paul Walker

Running for United States House of Representatives (KY-1)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

A secure and stable agricultural markets, reliable protections for planted crops, enhanced pathways to consumers.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Listen to young farmers and their concerns and needs, and ensure an agricultural environment that protects and enables small and mid-sized farms to thrive.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

I’ve heard from small farmers that the application process favors conglomerate farms. The USDA and Congress can work to simplify the process to help individuals and small agricultural farms maintain equality with larger farms.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I intend to initiate and support a single-payer health insurance for all.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Student loan debt is a primary concern of mine. I would initiate a student-loan forgiveness program immediately, and then implement a multi-faceted program to ensure debt-free education for post-secondary education.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Yes, Congress should address climate change directly through policy and also through assistance to farmers in developing products and methods that adapt to changing conditions — and don’t contribute to the problem.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

I would support a clean path to citizenship for foreign-born workers, as well as their children.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I would support non-discriminatory policies with stiff penalties for those who don’t comply.

Louisiana

Candidate: Tammy M Savoie

Running for United States House of Representatives (LA-1)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

a. Advocate for the preservation of, conservation of, and smooth ownership transition of America’s farmlands. b. Encourage farming of produce/livestock commensurate with the needs of this country and overseas demand, to prevent over-/underproduction that threatens both farmers’ livelihoods and the nation’s food supply.  Address tariffs that affect this priority. c. Increase (through government access, incentives, and assistance) the ability of farmers to overcome the many economic challenges they, as independent business owners, face—particularly (and perhaps especially) those who are just starting out.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

I recognize that developers of all kinds want to acquire the nation’s farmland, making it difficult for the new farmer to secure land appropriate in nature and size for his/her venture.  The difficulty of the beginning farmer to compete with large, non-farming interests imperils the continued—and necessary—use of the land for farming purposes.  To address this situation, I would: a.  Create/support tax incentives for retiring farmers willing to sell to beginning farmers. b.  Create/support start-up credit programs targeted to new, younger farmers. c.  Create/support incentives for investors who provide capital to beginning farmers.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Customer service, that is, responsiveness to the needs of constituents, leaves much to be desired when it comes to many of our current crop of legislators. I can only imagine how complicated it must be to start a farm; attempting to navigate federal bureaucracy so as to get some assistance with this venture must make it especially demoralizing for young farmers. To address this problem, I would call for the creation of “facilitator” offices across the country, as many as funding could provide.  Ideally, there would be at least one in each state. These would be USDA offices dedicated SOLELY to assisting beginning farmers with discovery of and application for programs. Regular training sessions (offered in various locations throughout the state for ease of access) as well as individual aid provided.  Incentives could be included for farmers who are “certified” in awareness of programs & mastery of USDA paperwork, who are willing to provide practical assistance to less experienced.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

For the sake of farmers, as well as for all Americans who are vulnerable and inadequately protected, I will use all the power of my office to preserve and revise the Affordable Care Act.  Access for all and the restoration/preservation of the ACA’s “10 Essential Health Benefits” are priorities.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

a. Primarily, I would advocate for Congressional approval of the inclusion of farmers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.  Your work is absolutely as critical to the safety, stability, and progress of our country as the professions/occupations already covered. b. Alternately, I would work for the creation of a “Farm for America” program.  Those who have graduated from college already would repay/reduce student loan debt through yearly apportionment of a certain percentage of their yield to public purposes (i.e., dairy/fresh produce to be included in WIC Food Packages).  Students entering college would receive scholarships to study farming/agriculture in exchange for an agreement to work America’s farmlands (as an apprentice or as an independent farmer) for at least five years (tuition to be repaid in prorated amount if student fails to work in farming-related capacity for the full period).

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

It is LONG PAST time for Congress to address changing climates.  I will work to halt rampant deregulation of industries that release and dispose of toxins that contribute to the breakdown of climate stability.  I will push to restore Obama-era laws intended to ensure clean water and air, and to protect (from pollution, as well as from public/private seizure) the very land that you farm.  I also will work to restore, and increase, funding for USDA conservation programs, and support the creation of incentives for beginning farmers who participate in them.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

I will work toward meaningful and just immigration reform that eliminates the sense of apprehension and uncertainty currently hobbling the farming sector.  I will help to develop and offer my full support to what the Farmworker Justice organization calls “a roadmap to citizenship” for undocumented workers and their families. Our government must stop turning a blind eye to the fact that the family farm of yore no longer exists, and that it is immigrants filling the gap left by U.S. citizens who will not accept, or reliably remain in, positions on our farms that demand commitment to exceptionally hard work.  Without these workers (as you well know), produce rots, food prices soar, and some farmers even make the decision to quit—consequences the nation simply cannot afford.  The current draconian and arbitrary pursuit and deportation of human beings who are literally feeding America must end.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I would examine the Operating and Farm Ownership Microloan program instituted by the USDA Farm Service Agency, to determine where it may fall short in addressing the needs of female, non-white, and other underserved farmers. I would consult with the farmers in my district to determine whether they are getting what they need from the USDA, and subsequently propose appropriate changes to this program and others like it based on my findings.


Candidate: Shawndra Rodriguez

Running for United States House of Representatives (LA-2)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1.) To encourage more support at a congressional level for local farmers and less government  hindrances. 2) I would like to see more education in food and  agriculture at the K-12 level in our schools to ensure sustainable future farming  3) Most importantly, local farmers should not be forced into conservation easements by any local parish, state or federal government but should be able to retain and maintain their privately owned farmland and its use, unless willing choosing not to.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

In light of this fact, I believe Congress should support this transition, however it should be done fairly considering land that is owned by the government and that which is privately held

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Education and information is key, as I mentioned earlier if more education is offered in our schools this would potentially ensure knowledge of resources that are accessible and how to go about receiving them.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

A part of my platform is to ensure we have more competition in the healthcare marketplace. If more companies were available it would create competition, ultimately driving down prices and making healthcare more affordable to consumers.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Free education is not the answer, at a Congressional level.  I would encourage more education being given to students before obtaining these loans, ensuring that there is adequate information as to other resources available and also encouraging students to have a clear concise view of their future goals as it relates to their education and the end results

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I support farmers and find it a very noble profession to utilize our God given land and its resources to provide food.  I would recommended the partnering of a young farmer with those 65+ farmers that have been through, seen and overcame many weather patterns.  I do not believe that Congress should address climate change, there is no such thing, while the earth is groaning, there shall always remain; seed, time and harvest

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Them being foreign born is not a factor.  As long as these workers are here legally and working here legally there is no issue.  Our immigration policy should be enforced at every juncture. We need secure borders to remain a safe and free nation.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Supporting Constitutional rights to all citizens is my highest priority


Candidate: Rob Anderson

Running for United States House of Representatives (LA-3)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

The United States has long been a global leader in the production of food and textile products. 1. Our representatives must ensure that trade agreements and prices benefit not just the consumer, but the producers. 2. We must continue to advocate for expansion of markets – the legalization of cannabis (hemp) would be a boon to small farmers and textile producers. 3. We must continue to ensure the security of our nation and its place as one of the world’s leaders in agricultural goods.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Due to market fluctuations, and the overwhelming buying power of large corporate entities, the small farmer is disappearing from our landscape. Congress must act to ensure that small business loans and legislation remain strong, to allow the next generation of entrepeneurs can compete in our rising economy.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Education is always key, when information needs to be shared; Congress can get involved on a local level, with community outreach to small, common markets (such as the local feed and general stores that most communities have), posting information about available programs for young entrepeneurs.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I am an adovate for Universal Healthcare – we, as a country, can no longer sit back and wait for private businesses to regulate people’s lives. A collective healthcare inititative will save lives and lower costs.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

I believe that our country needs to expand our education initiatives, so that all students can access 4 year universities, or trade schools or apprentice programs, as a means to prepare them to become successful and productive members of society.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I believe that any threat to our nation needs to be addresed, and enough scientific consensus has been published to warrant our representatives to act to prepare us for the potential of changing climate.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Any person who is willing to work in such a challenging field must be expedited to do so. I believe that we are a nation of immigrants, with only government bureacracy creating the new impediments to workers finding work. We must reduce the paperwork and suspicion that have prevented so many valuable workers from migrating to serve our nation.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I believe in human rights. Across the board, with no exceptions for race, color, gender or creed.


 

Candidate: Justin Dewitt

Running for United States House of Representatives (LA-6)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Land and water protection, ensuring a capable and educated labor force and protecting against the threats of climate change

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Enhancing and protecting funding for farmland conservation, addressing student debt so that young farmers can afford farmland and incentivizing land transition from older to younger farmers

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Maryland

Candidate: David Lashar

Running for United States House of Representatives (MD-3)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

no more subsidies

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

do nothing

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

 

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?


Candidate: Dave Bishop

Running for United States House of Representatives (MD-4)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1. Get government out of the way. 2. Allow the opportunity for smaller businesses and farms to compete. 3. Ensure consumers are aware of what they are consuming.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Allow the market to respond, so younger farmers can compete and gain experience fairly while carefully ensuring we can maintain sustainability without over regulating.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Reduce corporate welfare and subsidies to corporate farms and use the savings to raise awareness.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Affordable care does not need to involve socialism. We can stop government protections of pharma and allow fair competition in the medical industry and encourage nonprofit insurance companies.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Get government out of the student loan process and allow loan companies to adjust their loan process based on student achievement. Stop schools and banks from focusing on profitability of education.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

We should allow the federal government limited regulation on environmental conditions. Specifically the fed govt should focus on air quality and and ground water as well as cleaning up international waterways and brokering international environmental efforts.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

We should allow immigration within a certain percentage of the US population, with an easy path to citizenship, permanent residency and work visas. We also need border security to ensure we are not allowing criminals and terrorists to take advantage of our free country.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

 

Maine

Candidate: Mark Holbrook, Ph.D.

Running for United States House of Representatives (ME-1)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

5% of ME farmers are organic but they get 40% of subsidiesandthat doesnt seem fair. 2) Support dairy farmers. 3)Protect and support local farmers.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Your question is meaninglessly ambiguous. Change hands to whom?

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Currently the program is set-up to pick winners and losers. It is biased towards the insider-elites making the whole process uniquely unfair and that has to change.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I suspect the survey was taken before they were allowed to form associations to buy group insurance plans. Before doing anything more I want to know how things are today.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Student loan debt is a problem for all Americans. I would like to see a service-related loan re-payment program much like we have doctors who work in under-served areas of the country. Sustaining our farmers is equally as important as helping doctors, police officers, nurses and other professionals who benefit from similar programs.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I do not berlieve the science settled.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

What’s the problem that needs Congressional intervention?

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Follow the law!

 

Michigan

Candidate: John James

Running for United States Senate, Michigan

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1. Our immigration system must be based on merit allowing us to bring in people who help us to grow our economy, particularly agricultural workers and the high-tech economy. Our nation is currently experiencing record low unemployment. Meanwhile, our farmers cannot get enough agricultural visas for their primary operations or secondary product processing. 2. Having a strong domestic food industry is important to our national security. Consumers preferences are shifting toward locally sourced foods, and Michigan is a national leader when it comes to crop diversity. While serving overseas as an Army Aviation Officer, I helped defend our country from our enemies. In the Senate, I will protect our farmers, our crops and our dinner tables. 3. Another priority for me is to expand the international market for American farm products. As president of a family business that specializes in international trade and logistics, I possess the skill set to obtain to tackle this issue.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

We have already made great strides on this effort by rolling back the estate tax. Most small businesses know that when you inherit the family business, you are also shouldering huge tax burdens and red tape. Farmers have known this for generations.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

In this day and age, there is no excuse for a failure to communicate. Farms have already harnessed the power of technology to plan and harvest their crops. Congress needs to do their job and invest in our country’s infrastructure. This isn’t always just roads and bridges. Many rural areas, particularly in Michigan, have suffered for years under low speed internet connections. With quicker access to customer service and applications, forms and answers, we can reduce the burden on our farmers and make our government work smarter for the people.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Accessibility: We need to be connecting more people with health care resources. We need important reforms to programs like Health Savings Accounts to give farmers and their families greater access to healthcare. Affordability: Connecting farmers and their families with healthcare that fits their budget and expectations is an absolute must. Sustainability: Farmers should be able to expect consistency in pricing and services from their health care providers.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

In order to reduce the shackles of debt that our children, and future generations are facing, we need to put an emphasis on alternate options for higher education. We must give people lower cost alternatives like trades schools, vocational and job training, and online education programs. We need to cut the red tape and reduce the regulations government puts on higher education, which leads institutions to raise educations costs.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Everybody wants clean air and water, especially farmers. When the weather works against us, I advocate for a robust insurance system that gives farmers the confidence to plan their crops. I will also advocate for investment and more research into the use of biotechnology in the agriculture sector. This technological revolution has already allowed yields to grow while maintaining and enhancing the nutritional quality of our food. Congress should be focused on nurturing a clean environment and a strong marketplace where farmers can also make a living.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

America is a nation of immigrants, it is part of what makes us great. But our immigration system which uses visa lotteries that leave to chance the new people we welcome into our country is ridiculous. In order to accelerate our economic growth and continue our status as the world’s economic engine, we have to shift over to a merit-based immigration system. Industries like agriculture that have an overwhelming number of foreign workers need to lead this reform. We need to have a new immigration policy that reflects the reality that recently, the number of jobs available to be filled in some industries actually exceeded the number of individuals looking for work.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

As an Army Officer, I was charged with leading a diverse group of soldiers. When you dedicate yourself to service, everything else fades away. Only political talking heads and divisive career politicians speak in terms of “us vs them”. Most people are just looking for a fair shot. As a Senator, I will bring everyone together to accomplish our mission of creating a more perfect union.


Candidate: Marcia Squier

Running for United States Senate, Michigan

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

I want to repeal and replace the DARK Act, Co-Authored by my opponent, Incumbent Debbie Stabenow. I want clear, concise GMO labeling laws (including cannabis/hemp). I want to promote small farm growth, including community/neighborhood farms. I also would love to see gun manufacturers convert to cannabis and hemp farming. I also support subsidies for smaller produce farms, as opposed to megacorporate farms.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

I think Congress should address this trend by including agriculture in high school curriculum so that our future adults are better prepared for this transition. I consider this career field to be important, and am a supporter of publicly funded education for all from preK-PhD plus vocational/skilled trades

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Congress and USDA could improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them by raising awareness at the high school level through education and by reaching out directly to farms.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

As a member of Congress, I would sponsor and/or vote for Medicare for all (including preventative care), which I believe would only work at the federal level, as opposed to the state or local level. This would save all Americans money on healthcare. I also want cannabis and hemp retroactively legalized, which would also help healthcare costs decrease because of the seemingly endless positive possibilities for cannabis and hemp products in our lives.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

As a member of Congress, I would support and/or vote for Education for All, from preK-PhD, plus vocational/skilled trades. I would also support allowing those with current student loan debt to be able to, at the very least, include it in bankruptcy filings, or let people who aren’t filing for bankruptcy, be able to pay down their current debt based on income, or qualify for student loan debt forgiveness if they are considered low-income.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I do believe Congress could address changing climates by encouraging farmers to apply for disaster relief. As a member of Congress,  I would supportinfrastructure improvements and renewable energy sources for their farms.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

By encouraging native-born and indigenous peoples into the field of agriculture so that it’s more reflective of our general population.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I would ensure that all farmers receive equal support and services from the federal government by imposing strict penalties, like stiff fines and/or imprisonment for those who discriminate based on race and/or gender.


Minnesota

Candidate: Stephen A. Emery

Running for United States Senate, Minnesota

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

(1) Create a “level playing field” for farmers. The farmer is the original entrepreneur in this country. All the American farmer wants is fair markets. One way to do that is to stop providing a defense for Europe. We spend over $600 billion on NATO. If the Europeans are required to pay for their own defense, then they won’t have so much money for agricultural subsidies that put our farmers at a disadvantage;. (2) enforce antitrust law because agriculture is being dominated by corporate interests which are contrary to rural values and competitiveness.. See emeryforsenate.org. Farmers are becoming economic slaves to the big corporations; (3) have a “people first” environmental policy that puts the interests of the farmer/rancher above plants and animals. Everybody wants clean air and water. We can have that without subordinating the interests of farmers and ranchers below so-called “endangered” plants and animals.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Enforce the Sherman Antitrust Act. The interests of multi-national mega corporate interests are dominating agriculture and are driving the supply and demand equation. Essentially, farmers are becoming slaves of the executives of these mega corporations. Corporations are essentially arms of the government. This concentration of power and wealth in a few hands is all part of the government plan to move people off the land and put them in big cities. See emeryforsenate.org. It also would be helpful to eliminate the “death tax” and related taxes.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Eliminate entitlements. Only 24 percent of the Farm Program is for farmers anyway. I keep coming back to corporations and antitrust law but it does affect everything we do. Enforce the Sherman Antitrust Act as intended and everything else takes care of itself. see emeryforsenate.org. You won’t need or want government handouts if you are prosperous, and you will be if we can diminish, and preferably eliminate, the corporation. The USDA should be eliminated. It is unconstitutional. Until the federal government can be brought under its proper scope under the Constitution, the USDA should advertise and do so in a targeted way. There is the technology available to reach any demographic.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

The single payer (government) health insurance/healthcare is a disaster. We have the benefit of seeing it in Canada and Europe where there is little access and the doctors are overworked and underpaid, and therefore completely disinterested in patients. We need to get back to the way it was with a completely private system. Medicare/Medicaid is a labyrinth, extremely inefficient, and completely undesirable to the medical/dental profession because it underpays and is so complex. It also is rife with fraud. I’ve seen people who were let die because they were on Medicare/Medicaid. Big government people tout it as a success and a system that needs to be expanded, but to those people who know how it works it is a complete failure and financially unsustainable. We need to stop importing immigrants, especially Muslims, who are not only gobbling up our healthcare, but we also pay them to do so with our tax dollars! The Muslim worldview also is completely incompatible with rural values.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Eliminate the federal government’s involvement in education. There is no basis whatsoever under the Constitution for federal involvement in education, even though anything and everything the federal government does is supposed to be authorized by the Constitution. Also enforce the antitrust laws. emeryforsenate.org. Corporate interests drive all the decision-making in education. If there is more competition in education (as it would be without the corporation), education would be far less expensive and the industry would better serve its clients in how the product is delivered and they would be far move responsive in every aspect of the process. As it is now, education is provided essentially on a “take it or leave it” basis. Of course, by eliminating the corporation, far more profit would be available to the farmer and he/she can more easily pay off his/her debts. See emeryforsenate.org

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

The only certainty about the weather is that it will change. That is the way it always has been. Manmade global warming is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on mankind. It is fear-mongering to establish a massive tax and spend scheme and is easily disproved. Contact me at emeryforsenate.org for details. Carbon dioxide is a so-called “greenhouse gas” but it consumed by plants. Increasing levels of CO2 is completely consumed by plants, and oxygen produced as a byproduct, in the exact proportion that it increases. Plant production increases with increasing levels of CO2. That is basic science/agronomy/horticulture. Higher average temperatures are part of the man-made global warming fraud. Weather reporting stations in the past were in the country and now those areas are developed. What farmers need is increased profitability by eliminating corporations that squeeze you on all your inputs and all of your sales. Increased profitability allows the farmer to “weather” adversity.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

I know I am sounding like a “broken record” (the phrase betrays my age somewhat), but enforce the antitrust laws. More profit for the farmers means higher wages for the workers and therefore the farmer can compete with employers in the cities who paying higher wages due to the institutional advantages of the corporate form. See emeryforsenate.org. The big corporation wants cheap labor, and that’s how they get it is through immigration. Also, we have killed 60 million babies through abortion. Not only would have those people grown up and been in the workforce, but they would have had children and grandchildren who would have been in the workforce. There would not have been a need for immigration, but for abortion. Because of abortion, and horrible immigration policy through Ted Kennedy, we are importing Muslims who come here to destroy us. We need to put an end to the corporate form and abortion on demand immediately.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

There is no basis whatsoever for the USDA under the Constitution. The USDA, and all other federal agencies except for ICE, must be eliminated because they are unconstitutional. If such government involvement is desirable, the States can do it themselves or in compacts with other States as provided in the Constitution. The best delivery system of goods and services is through private enterprise (industry without the corporation). Anytime the ideal system is ignored, there will be unsolvable and intractable problems because of human nature. The Creator has established the best possible system for our situation, and that is limited government–not a welfare state.


Candidate: Tom Emmer

Running for United States House of Representatives (MN-6)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Reauthorization of the Farm Bill – Maintaining and improving access to local and international markets for MN grown/raised produce and goods. – Combating farmer and rancher suicide while cultivating the next generation of farmers.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Congress must find ways to help defray the initial start-up costs of farming and ranching for young individuals and families interested in agriculture; permanently eliminate the estate tax (better known as the “Death Tax”) when family farms are passed down from generation to generation; improve access to educational resources and business development planning services like those found within the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program; and expand education at the elementary and secondary levels wherever possible to develop the next generation of farmers at an early age.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

USDA must expand its presence locally, engaging directly with farmers and ranchers to better inform them of the federal programs and assistance made available by Congress to support our agriculture community. Additionally, the federal government across all departments and agencies must reduce permitting paperwork and regulatory compliance burden for farms, businesses and families.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Congress needs to return control of our health care decisions to the states, families and individuals who are better poised to make these choices, rather than the federal government.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Congress is currently working to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, to streamline existing federal loan programs, hold institutions of higher education accountable for the amount they charge to obtain an education, and work with high school counselors and educators to better inform students of their options prior to graduation. Additionally, Congress must evaluate the benefits of adding farmers and ranchers to the public student loan forgiveness program.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

First and foremost, Congress must guarantee and support a fully functioning, fully solvent crop insurance program. I have and will continue to support our current crop insurance system. To that end, Congress has taken, and I have supported efforts to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as well as the way the federal government responds to wildfires and other natural disasters. As our agriculture community’s livelihood remains contingent upon the weather, these programs must be fully functioning, quick to respond and fiscally solvent to support our farmers and ranchers.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Although we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. Congress has made multiple attempts to improve the way our legal system of immigration operates. Congress must prioritize, but balance, improvements to our border security and interior enforcement with reforms to ensure a consistent and reliable flow of seasonal agriculture and non-agriculture workers that businesses and farms around the country rely on.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Discrimination has no place in our government or society. Instances of discrimination must be addressed immediately and Congress will continue to monitor reported abuses to determine whether or not a change to current law is required.


Candidate: Karin Housley

Running for United States Senate, Minnesota

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1. Addressing the trade war that has negatively impacted farmers in our state and nation. 2. Continuing to find vital research that ensures that our crops and livestock stay safe. 3. Making sure that farmers are taken care of when it comes to crop protection and insurance. Additionally, we must make sure our farmers can have access to affordable health insurance.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

I believe that Congress needs to make sure that transitions aren’t slowed down by government regulations and that we incentivize young farmers to be in the trade, rather than taxing and regulating them out of business.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?


Candidate: Jim Newberger

Running for United States Senate, Minnesota

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1.  Negotiate a new trade agreement with China, Canada and Mexico before the end of the year.  We need to stop the tariff war.   2.  Continue to fund research and vaccines for bovine, poultry and pork producers.  3. Continue to fight to reduce the overall cost of farming, such as healthcare costs, taxes, regulations, rules and fix the buffer laws.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Reduce the cost of entry level farming.  Stop over regulating farmers.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Simplify and streamline the process.  The government should serve people, not the other way around.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Get rid of Obamacare once-and-for-all, open up a free market system with a gov. sponsored safety net for our most vulnerable citizens.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Reduce the interest rate to 0.5% on ALL govt. sponsored loans.  Limit the cost of tuition at state universities.  A college credit should not cost more than 3 times the minimum wage rate.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

No response

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Create a system where legal immigrants can EARN their citizenship

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Equal access is already the law.  Enforce the existing laws.


Candidate: Paula M Overby

Running for United States Senate, Minnesota

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1) New land use policies, something I lobbied for in urban agriculture and community gardening. Small farms, urban ag, organic farming, hydroponics, and greenhouse gardening represent the future of food production, producing more localized distribution channels, improved environmental impact, and a more accessible and wholesome food supply. Better land use policies in rural areas balances the excessive influence of major ag corporations which are largely responsible for the excessive growth of mono-crop farming methods. 2) Connect urban and rural interests. Build stronger relationships between rural capacity and urban consumption emphasizing the importance of localized food distribution networks and stronger localized economies. 3) Emphasize local development. Create a more diversified farm economy including products like hemp. More diversity demands meaningful investments in education, extension services, research, product development, community cooperatives, and investment capital.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Farm consolidation had devastating consequences for main street America. I first recognized this during the farm foreclosures in the 70’s. Similar consequence may occur from agricultural tariffs in the current trade war. Population migration is viewed as a natural consequence of mechanization. I see a lack of long-range planning and federal policies allow wealth to capitalize on land ownership and technology. The failure of localized economies through land consolidation is mirrored by the growing problem of homelessness in urban areas resulting from gentrification. My solution to the aging farm population is included in my response to your first question: encourage localized economic grow through meaningful investments in education, extension services, research, product development, community cooperatives, and investment capital. I also support land uses policies that would encourage broader land distribution through broader support for individual ownership or community cooperatives.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

This problem is often viewed as a problem of excessive regulation. I hear these arguments most frequently in discussions about crop insurance. Demands for less regulation tends to be driven by profit motives that would allow multi-national conglomerates greater liberty to exploit the environment and our natural resources. The regulatory process favors large corporate interests that have the resources and the expertise to profit from regulations through competitive advantage and mechanisms to actually circumvent regulation. Farm policy should include agencies and funding that minimize the complexity Again, I emphasize processes that enhance the competitiveness of localized economies, individuals, and cooperatives. Encourage localized economic grow through meaningful investments in education, extension services, research, product development, community cooperatives, and investment capital.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

My principle platform position emphasizes a major shift in budgeting priorities, reducing war spending and increasing investments in health care and education reforms. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was supposed to help the individual market which includes most farmers and small business owners but individual markets saw annual rate increases of 20 and 30 percent or more. Single-payer bills, like those introduced in Vermont, California, New York and the U.S. Senate by Bernie Sanders, are based on an accountable care model that favor large institutions. Simply put, it promotes tax subsidies to cover the cost of the existing services delivery model. When people see the cost of this concept it has no possibility of passing. The issue is controlling cost, not expanding tax outlays to insurance companies, HMO’s, and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM). I support the Minnesota Health Plan. I support similar legislation at the national level, favoring HR 676.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

We have mortgaged the future of an entire generation by failing to provide publicly funded education and manage for-profit education. My parents got free education, through the GI bill. I paid for my college with part-time jobs. Veterans do get education benefits but those
tax dollars went to for-profit colleges providing degrees with no market value. We live in a complex society demanding higher education. We have a social responsibility to provide it. Young people holding 1.5 trillion dollars in student debt is a disgrace. As suggested by the question, it limits the ability of our young people to invest in more productive options. I believe we have a social responsibility to forgive that debt. I may also consider partial forgiveness options based on career achievement and ability to pay but I do not support tax-funded policies that encourage wealth inequality and penalize hard-working people who are making a positive investment in our society and our economy..

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Appearing on the program Almanac in 2016, I emphasized that climate change is already here and we need to mitigate the consequences of what we have already done. The time to address climate change was back in 1969. The fossil fuel prosperity narrative has enriched the wealthy beyond reason, increased poverty, and negatively impacted our environment. We need a major policy shift that will provide economic capital at the community level to accelerate renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. Since the 70’s I have seen the need for a national energy policy to maximize conservation and accelerate renewable energy. That initiative is happening in cities and local communities. Our federal government has abandoned the responsibility of governing for social and economic sustainability. It again emphasizes the importance of localized community action and localized economy. The principle problem with our federal government is far too much centralization of control.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

This problem is inherently a consequence of the migration of wealth and consolidation of the farm economy. We also see it in the hospitality industry. The basic argument holds that Americans don’t want these low wage jobs but interest in new farming operations is growing rapidly. We also see the problem in the IT industry where contracting strategies have greatly increased the percentage of foreign workers utilizing visas. It is partly a failure of our educational system to promote qualified individuals from America’s lower socioeconomic classes and partly the evolution of multi-national conglomerates who are less invested in the employees and communities they serve. It is difficult to undo this situation because of the dependency created for this workforce. Looking toward the future, I again emphasize localized economic grow through meaningful investments in education, extension services, research, product development, community cooperatives, and investment capital.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I am transgender and author of the book “The Transgender Myth” I begin by understanding how discrimination operates in our society. This is a systemic problem, requiring a systemic solution. We have a very diverse population and we need more diverse representation. Diversity in the decision-making process leads to better policy. I’m currently running for U.S. Senate, endorsed by the Green Party of Minnesota, and supporting the coalition of independent parties. I believe third parties are essential to changing the social narratives and challenging barriers that restrict access to our political process by working class people. The independent movement is vital and growing. Our primary goal in 2018 is advancing to major party status and overcoming those barriers. The social order and the strength of our economy depend on working people, not the accumulation of wealth. It vote for Paula Overby is a demand for fundamental systemic change!


North Carolina

Candidate: Phillip Price

Running for United States House of Representatives (NC-11)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1.Promote small family farms with low cost start-up federally subsidized loans. Tax incentives to sell farmland to new farmers at resonable rates. 2. Encourage sustainable and organic practices that consider the whole ecosystem including impacts on the bee population. 3.Policies that encourage industrial hemp growing to replace petroleum-base plastics with plant-based plastics.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Strong federally subsidized aprenticeship programs to facilitate young folks learning farming practices from successful family farmers. Lower capitol gains tax on farmland that is sold to younger 1st time farmers. Create policies that allow small farms to exist without beig swalloed up by industrial farms.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

A strong aprenticeship program would include USDA involvement with a database of new farmers in the program. Also in that database would be young farmers who take advantage of the federally subsidized loan program. This should allow for better communications. Getting the USDA on social media could also help.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I support HR 676 the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All bill. Untill we pass a medicare-for-all bill, I am committed to strengthening the ACA and keeping the subsidies intact. As a small buisness owner, I get my health insurance through the ACA. Iknow what it is like raising a family without health insurance. I will not rest untill no person in this country has to worry about financial ruin over a health crisis.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

I will fight for tuition-free trade schools and community colleges. The higher wages this education brings means higher revenue which we use to pay for it. We must ensure the success of the next generation of family farms. This is crucial to our envirionment and our food supply.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

ABSOLUTLY!! I am an environmentalist and will fight for policies that reverse climate change. Our farmers cannot and should not bear the burden of our past ignorance on this matter!

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Our policies should respect the contributions of our immigrant workers with wage protections and acceptable working conditions. We need policies that match farms needing workers with workers needing employment.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Cases of known discrimination should result in job loss. We need a reporting system that initiates a quick and thorough investigation.


Candidate: Paul Wright

Running for United States House of Representatives (NC-12)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

return to family farms, decrease use of GMO crops

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

grant temporary relief to the small farmers

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

waive requirements for the small farm and part time farmers

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

continue to change the abuses of ObamaCare

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

debt is a trap except in emergencies, especially to small farmers

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

God controls the weather, but Congress can end the subsidies to the big corporate “farmers” and I have a full time hog farmer in my family in NC

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Congress has done this on purpose, it can be reversed

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

of course no discrimination

 

Nebraska

Candidate: Don Bacon

Running for United States House of Representatives (NE-2)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

As a member of the House Ag Committee, I’ve been all over the state of Nebraska talking with farmers, ranchers, and small businesses in agriculture support industries. The top three concerns I hear from them have become my top three priorities: maintaining affordable crop insurance, fixing the drastically low prices ($0.49 on the dollar compared with just a few years ago), and ensuring fair trade that allows our nation’s farmers and ranchers to compete on a level playing field. Another high priority for me is expanding ag markets so our famers have a stronger overall market for trade.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

I do not believe Congress needs to address this trend. Private citizens can do as they please with their property, including selling or transferring ownership. I do believe that states with a strong agriculture economy, like Nebraska, might benefit by making ag an educational focus in the school systems to help cultivate an interest in farming and ranching among our youth. I do support Congress taking action to eliminate the inheritance tax, which would make it easier for families to pass farms down to the next generation.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Congress and/or the USDA could help states educate and motivate their local co-ops and communities to support farming families by increasing awareness of federal programs designed to help them. Increasing awareness of these programs could be another benefit of agricultural education in our school systems.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Health insurance is also one of the top challenges facing farmers and ranchers here in Nebraska. I support association pools, which would allow members of the ag community to band together to form insurance pools, thereby lowering rates and increasing negotiating power. Ultimately, we need to lower healthcare and insurance costs for everyone. Toward that end, I support several bills currently in the House that would make small, but impactful, changes to our healthcare system. Some of these changes include association pools, changes to the structure of the individual marketplace, and allowing consumers to purchase insurance across state lines. We’re making progress on this front, but I do wish Congress could move faster.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

There is no doubt that the student loan debt crisis is growing out of control. Federal subsidization and guarantees of student loans have resulted in skyrocketing tuition prices. There is also no doubt that many farmers today need a degree in business or the sciences to successfully run their operation. Federally-guaranteed loans, subsidization, and the increasing numbers of students relying on government loans for their higher education are some of the factors driving up cost. Farmers and ranchers may benefit from increased federal grant money available to those who graduate with a degree in an agricultural field. I strongly support revising the current student loan refinance options to make them more attainable and affordable.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

As a member of the bi-partisan Climate Solutions Caucus, I am a strong proponent of renewable energy sources. I’m also proud of the fact that nearly one-third of my district’s electricity is generated by renewable sources. Farmers in Nebraska don’t often mention climate change as one of their top priorities, but there is no denying that the Earth’s climate is not static. Advances in technology, genetics, and farming practices will help our agricultural communities adapt. The role of Congress should be to get out of the way of progress on these fronts so our farmers can prosper in a changing environment.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Our immigration policy is in dire need of an overhaul. Those who want to come to the United States legally, and abide by our laws while here, should be allowed and encouraged to do so. Unemployment is reaching historic lows as a result of the tax cut bill and broad economic growth, and our farms need workers. However, we need to ensure that those who come on H-1B or H-2A visas do not stay in the country illegally after their visas expire. An overabundance of inexpensive labor drives wages down across all connected industries, and the immigration policies of the last decade are one reason why wages are stagnant across many sectors of the workforce. We also need to streamline the application process and speed it up, which would allow our farmers and ranchers to plan more efficiently.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I wholeheartedly oppose any discrimination. However, aside from creating another watchdog to oversee the government, there is no pragmatic way to prevent a bad apple in a government position from discriminating against citizens. I pledge that my door will always be open to talk with constituents and listen to their concerns. If a discrimination issue is brought to my attention, I will absolutely address it immediately.

 


Candidate: Kara Eastman

Running for United States House of Representatives (NE-2)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Number one, I will defend Nebraska farmers from the interests of multinational corporations, which Republicans have failed to do. American farmers drive our economy, and the government needs to play an active role in the production and sale of their goods. Secondly, as an expert in healthy housing, I will fight to increase funding for programs that help working families maintain healthy and safe homes, a key focus of which is healthy food, which is currently out of reach for many working families. And thirdly, I will advocate for measures investing in sustainable farming––that means creating jobs on family farms, developing new eco-friendly technology, and treating animals humanely.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

With so much instability in farm ownership nationwide, Congress needs to do everything it can to stabilize our agricultural industry. That means fighting back against legislation like the Republican farm bill of 2018 that undermined the important balance between urban and rural communities, and attempted to restrict Americans’ access to SNAP benefits. Instead Congress should pass measures that expand subsidies for crop insurance, and protect small and independent farms from multinational agricultural corporations.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

It’s no coincidence that young farmers feel disconnected from important USDA and FSA resources, because Republican leadership has continually failed to act on behalf of America’s farmers. Expanding the outreach and the substance of these programs will take Congress finally prioritizing small and independent farms, rather than large agriculture corporations. We should make it easier to secure a farm loan through USDA, and expand the resources therein. We should make it easier for, and should incentivize, farms to operate in an eco-friendly way. And finally, we should expand and ease access to SNAP benefits, not institute destabilizing work requirements which only serve to widen the gap between farmers who are succeeding, and those who are falling behind.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Health insurance has been made unavailable for millions of Americans for far too long, and it’s time we treat healthcare as a right to which we are all entitled. I strongly support Medicare for All, and moving towards universal healthcare will be my top priority upon entering Congress. The federal government already spends over $1 trillion annually on healthcare––and we consumers are still overburdened by expensive doctor visits and exorbitantly priced prescription drugs. If the federal government decides to invest that money in a cost-efficient, high-quality system like Medicare made available for everyone, young farmers and ranchers, just like all other Americans, will finally be entitled to the healthcare coverage we all deserve.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Student loan debt is out of control, and there are a few ways I would want to tackle the issue. My first goal will be to pass legislation making all public college debt-free, for all Americans. Secondly, I would push for legislation making public and community college tuition-free for families making less than $125,000 per year. And third, I would place much more specific regulations on predatory lenders, who currently profit off of charging students outrageous interest rates, burdening them for life with crippling student debt they can never repay. National student loan debt is a five-alarm crisis, and we must act swiftly to rescue young people drowning in debt, and let them get on with their professional lives.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

The current Republican Congress has stood by and watched as the Trump Administration has rolled back regulations and empowered oil, gas, and coal corporations to wreak havoc on our environment. We must reverse course, and strengthen regulations that promote the quality of our air and water over the interests of corporate America. And to ensure that happens, we must do all we can to take dark corporate money out of our politics; if we can’t extract the Koch Brothers from our system, we won’t ever be able to fully act on behalf of our environment––which is something we all share, and are currently squandering. I would certainly act on behalf of farmers who are struggling with the effects climate change currently––both by expanding resources for recovering damaged land and crops, as well as developing eco-friendly farming technologies.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

First of all, we should ensure that all workers––foreign-born and not––are being paid fairly, and are working in safe conditions. By creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, we will end the terrible practice of under-paying and poorly treating workers who have no legal recourse because of their documentation status. If we pass legislation ensuring equal pay and benefits for all farm workers, we will end the exploitation of agricultural workers and ensure parity in both hiring and labor conditions in the agricultural sector.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Congress has done shockingly little to address the institutional pay gaps along race and gender lines in every sector, including at USDA and in the agricultural sector as a whole. I will always fight for legislation promoting equal pay for equal work, targeted regulations protecting workers’ quality of life, and strengthening affirmative action hiring guidelines to ensure that no qualified worker is turned away because of superficial factors outside of their control.

 

New Hampshire

Candidate: Justin O’Donnell

Running for United States House of Representatives (NH-2)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

The top priority is to reduce the regulatory burdens which increase the overhead costs of manufacturing and farming, coupled with the elimination of tariffs that harm the viability of American farmers in the competitive free market.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

The governmental guarantee and subsidy of student loans, combined with societal pressure to attend college, is driving young people away from traditional fields such as agriculture and manufacturing. By ending student Loan Guarantees, we could incentive education to once again focus on sustainable educational alternatives, such as farming.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

These training and certification programs should be readily accessible to all who wish to pursue them, and the application process should be as simple and straight forward as possible, and marketed as a true alternative to higher education.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

The passage of the PPACA forced thousands of pages of new regulations on insurance companies, causing their overhead costs to skyrocket, resulting in increased premiums and decreased availability of coverage, forcing ordinary Americans to rely on government subsidies to be able to afford coverage. By repealing the PPACA and eliminating these restrictions, Young farmers would be able to join together in voluntary organizations to share risks, and pool their insurance needs in a free and open market.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Student Loans should not be guaranteed by the federal government, and should be subject to the same discharge procedures through bankruptcy as any other debt. For many, college is a poor and unnecessary investment, which places an undue financial burden on their future.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

The best way to help farmers adapt to the changing invironment is to remove restrictions and regulations on how they operate. Lawyers in DC don’t know how to work a farm, and they shouldn’t be telling you how to either.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

A truly free market allows not only for the free flow of goods across borders, but of Labor as well. We need to loosen restrictions on migrant workers, and allow farms to use the labor available to them, as opposed to cutting off our farms from being able to be run by restricting immigrants.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

The 14th Amendment demands the equal treatment before the law of ALL people within the jurisdiction of the United States. It is imperative that congress investigate and rectify any instances of discrimination within federal agencies, by prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law those who abuse their positions and authority within the federal government.

 

New Mexico

Candidate: Deb Haaland

Running for United States House of Representatives (NM-1)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

 As a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, I would bring a unique and powerful progressive voice to Congress as the first Native American woman to serve there, and based on my deep commitment to family farming. The Pueblo people are agriculturalists and understand the relationship between people, land, water, and food – for sustenance and economy.  I am committed to fighting to protect America’s family farms and rural communities from the multinational agribusiness monopolies that are destroying rural economies and way of life.   I would fight for a strong Farm Bill. It should provide for substantial investments into the development of plant-based and clean meat technology, which will not only require less land and resources, but also decrease the risk of global public health threats. We have to protect small family farms and no longer can the Farm Bill be a handout to mega factory farms. I would protect the funding in the Nutrition Chapter.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

The federal government must support training, outreach and education program for young farms.  4H programs need to be funded.  Tribal Youth programs need to be funded.  We need to make sure that our economic and natural resources policy respect the role of young and small farmers.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Applications should be streamlined.  Programs should provide staffing to support youth in applying for programs.  They must be demystifed.  Outreach programs are critical.  Young people must represent the ranks of the federal USDA workforce and we should create fellowship programs to build bridges.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I am a strong supporter of the ACA and will fight to ensure Congress protects it.  I believe we should have Medicare for All.  And I would want to hear from young and rural people about their challenges accessing health care and whether telemedicine provides utility.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

As someone who is still paying off my student loans (as is my daughter) and had to rely on food stamps at times during school, I know how expensive it is. I strongly support debt-free college. Every student should be able to attend college without financial barriers, and burdens after graduation.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

The fossil fuel industry is making billions by putting our communities in harm’s way, and forcing us to pay to clean up their mess. Meanwhile, extreme weather fueled by climate change is creating massive droughts across the Southwest, historic flooding across the Southeast, and is forcing people out of their homes from Louisiana to Alaska.  Farms are facing increased costs and need access to healthier, lower cost energy.  We need to act fast to counteract climate change and keep fossil fuels in the ground. I pledge to vote against all new fossil fuel infrastructure, and to fight instead for 100% clean energy — including tens of thousands of solar energy jobs for New Mexicans. We deserve representatives in Congress who will stand up to the fossil fuel industry, and I will. I believe in people over profits. I will fight for all families for access to clean water, air, and housing that allows us an equal opportunity to raise our families with dignity, that will protect our farmers.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

This country was built by immigrants. As a Native American woman, my family has experienced the violence of government-enforced family separation. I will always fight to keep families together. ICE is an out of control institution that is terrorizing American families. I want to stop deportations, protect DREAMers, and I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in America. I will fight tirelessly against Trump’s racist and astronomically expensive wall. Immigration policy must recognize this country’s dependency on (and exploitation of) immigrant labor, and treat with dignity and humanity those who work and build their families here.  I support protecting agricultural and seasonal visas, and am opposed to a ‘merit only’ visa system.  With President Trump’s antagonistic immigration policy, farms in CA and elsewhere are suffering.  Agricultural employers are desperate for farm labor.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I would hold the government accountable.  USDA has been outrageous over the years in terms of the discrimination waged against so many communities, including the Native American community.  This would be a priority for me.

 

New York

Candidate: John Faso

Running for United States House of Representatives (NY-19)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

New York’s dairy industry accounts for $2.4 billion per year in business. However, dairy farmers face economic headwinds as milk demand drops. In any upcoming NAFTA agreement, the U.S. should prioritize changes to Canada’s discriminatory Class 7 milk policies. I also want to get whole milk back in the school lunch program.

To strengthen integrity of products labeled “organic”, I introduced H.R. 3871 to strengthen enforcement at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. I’m pleased to report that this legislation has been included in the pending Farm Bill.

New York has over 700 farmers’ markets that sell fresh products from local farmers. These markets are outlets for farmers to sell their products, and a great place for consumers to shop. I included a reauthorization of the Seniors Farmers Market Program in the Farm Bill and continue to support such efforts.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

The average age of a farmer is nearly 60 years old; a trend will only continue in coming years. The Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas Program (ATTRA) is a proven program and a go-to resource for young farmers breaking into the industry, and those who are looking to expand their operation. I’ve included H.R. 3667, the Veteran and Beginning Farmers Assistance Act to reauthorize this successful program in the Farm Bill and look forward to its continued success.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Recently, I hosted Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in Upstate New York to visit a specialty crop farm in Columbia County and to participate in a roundtable with regional dairy farmers. One of the things the Secretary highlighted was the USDA’s effort to improve an online portal so farmers have a more convenient method to produce and edit their applications. We should prioritize technological advancements to improve service delivery and streamline the benefits process.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

It’s clear that our health insurance system needs reform. While I supported the House GOP effort to reform the ACA, that measure wasn’t considered in the Senate. Belonging to the Problem Solvers Caucus—a bipartisan group in the House—I’m committed to achieving reforms which are practical and cost effective. Reforms are needed in the individual insurance market, where most young farmers would find themselves. Income based subsidies would assist in the purchase of private insurance. I support enactment of a federally-funded reinsurance system which shields insurers from costs associated with high-cost patients.  Up to a certain level, insurance would cover patient expenses; above that level, reinsurance would begin to pay such claims. Such a system will lower premiums and deductibles for those in the individual insurance market. Moreover, I’m committed to covering those with pre-existing conditions and such a provision–despite claims to the contrary–was included in House GOP legislation.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Along with two of my colleagues in the House, I introduced H.R. 1060, the Young Farmer Assistance Act, which would add farming as an eligible profession under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Under authority of this program, eligible professionals who make 10 years of income-based student loan payments can have the balance of their loans forgiven. This bipartisan bill is a step forward in making farming a more competitive and appealing profession for students who have recently finished their schooling. I also support requiring colleges and universities to outline for prospective students the true cost of higher education and the likelihood of employment after graduation in a field the student chose to study.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

In Congress, I am a member of the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, which has an evenly divided membership of Democrats and Republicans. In partnership with Representative Dan Lipinski (D-IL), I introduced H.R. 5031, the Challenges & Prizes for Climate Act to create a national prize system to spur innovation in issue areas and industries that are crucial in addressing climate change. The resulting program would incentivize technological breakthroughs that will help us fight climate change through energy efficiency, energy storage, and climate resiliency projects. I have also opposed legislative efforts – proposed by members of my party in the House – to eliminate requirements for federal agencies, such as the Department of Defense – to consider the impacts of climate change as they carry out the missions of their agencies.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

I consistently hear from farmers in the region that access to a dependable workforce is one of their biggest challenges each and every year. Recently, I cosponsored bipartisan legislation,  H.R. 6417, the Ag and Legal Workforce Act, which would overhaul our nation’s guest worker program. Notably, the new program would give dairy farmers the same access to guest labor that other farmers are able to utilize. Additionally, the program would improve the ability of farmers to hire guest workers every season in order to ensure that crops are properly harvested and can make it to market. This bill would also normalize the status of agricultural workers currently illegally in the nation and create a mechanism whereby workers could “touchback” in their home country every three years and still legally work in the US.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Discrimination is unacceptable. The U.S. Department of Agriculture under Sonny Perdue has made substantial progress in making the department more accessible to farmers. Most notably, one of the most important responsibilities of a member of Congress is to assist constituents in dealing with federal agencies. I take great pride in being able to assist on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the people of the 19th district are represented in their dealings with federal agencies.  However, we must also insure that any vestiges of discrimination in lending for instance, in Ag. programs are eradicated.


Candidate: Antonio Delgado

Running for United States House of Representatives (NY-19)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

My top priorities include fighting to support our small and medium size farms which have been ignored in favor of mega farms, building out the necessary regional infrastructure to ensure that our farmers are able to access the $6 billion dollars of unmet demand for local and organically grown food in New York City, and passing a better Farm Bill that will conserve and protect our environment, provide access to credit and business training for small rural farms, invest in preparing the next generation of farmers in our community, and fund programs like SNAP and those incentivizing purchases at local farmers markets.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

We should be funding programs that help train and educate the next generation of farmers and help them access lines of credit to start or grow their farms. The House version of the Farm Bill fails to address the systemic barriers that small-scale and beginning farmers face in accessing farm bill programs. The House version of the Farm Bill fails to address education and outreach barriers that would help support young and new farmers. We should support programs like the Beginner Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Accounts in order to provide asset building and financial literacy services.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Passing legislation or providing funding is not enough. We must also provide information through regional, state and local agencies to inform young farmers and help them with the application process. This goes hand in hand with improving access to broadband internet and cell service which is sorely lacking in many parts of our district. Better access will improve the ability to utilize technology to research and connect with available loan and credit opportunities.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I understand that access to healthcare means nothing if no one can actually afford to pay for it, and that our small businesses, including farms, have struggled to meet the health insurance needs of their employees. My goal is to get us to universal coverage as fast as possible, and the best way to do that is by creating a public option, giving everyone the choice to opt into Medicare. I will fight for a healthcare system that addresses rising premiums and deductibles, protects people with pre-existing conditions, and provides real coverage to everyone. I support the goal of getting the profit motive out of our healthcare system. I will also work to eliminate regulations that protect the pharmaceutical companies at the expense of the health of everyday Americans, and will work to give Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

I will work to make college more affordable for every member of our district, by expanding Pell Grants and increasing opportunities for student loan forgiveness and relief.  That means new opportunities both for high school kids as well as folks who want to go to college later in life. I also believe we should prioritize skills training programs for the people of our region.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Yes. The impact of climate change on our environment is undeniable and farmers are forced to endure the drastic impacts of severe weather patterns. It is imperative that we work together to mitigate the factors causing extreme and often unpredictable weather conditions.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

I believe that we are a nation of immigrants, and that our region can benefit from a sensible and compassionate immigration policy.  I understand that immigrants come to this region to fill important roles in every industry, including seasonal workers our farmers rely upon to bring in the harvest.  How we treat our immigrant population should illustrate our highest ideals of who we are as Americans and New Yorkers. I will fight for immigration policies that reflect the character and decency of the people of upstate New York – this means passing a clean DACA bill and achieving bipartisan legislation that fixes our broken immigration system.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I absolutely support equal pay for equal work. Gender and race should never be barriers in any industry, including our farms. I would support investigations into any discrimination by our government agency.


Candidate: Luisa Parker

Running for United States House of Representatives (NY-19)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

To do everything humanly possible to preserve our dairy farms; increase the amount of land used to grow our own organic produce; and research the impact of pesticides on our pollinators. The aforementioned are my top three. A fourth would be the securing of the Farm Bill (which should really be called the Food Bill) to limit the amount of food insecurity across our nation.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Introduce programs whereby young people are introduced to farm living: brought to farms; shown how good is grown – the planning, the layouts, the equipment, the labor intensiveness, and commitment. Bring small farm programs into the schools so students can grow fruits and vegetables and see them incorporated in their school menus and snacks. Find volunteers willing to start food coops in their neighborhoods: growing produce in backyards and rooftops and encouraging the youth to tend to the crops and gardens. Give them a the farming bug.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

 


Candidate: Lynn S Kahn

Running for United States House of Representatives (NY-21)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

$20 floor price cwt for farm milk; emergency relief and congressional hearings on policies driving dairy farms bankrupt; and creative solutions to bring farm products to public places and schools

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

All levels of government: local, regional, tribal, state and federal could support young people entering farming and agriculture with financial incentives and one-on-one coaching

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

My area of expertise – cut red tape, streamline and consolidate government programs, provide easy to read postcard size information to all farming and rural establishments about programs and benefits

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I support a roadmap to universal health care, the New York Health Care Act and the national Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act – though I do have questions about implementation so prefer to start at state level

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

get real about the issues: immediate halt to federal interest payments; explore all possible and creative ways to give credits and pay off individual student loans; restore government programs that go after student loan scams; phase out federal loans for college over 4 years

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

yes, I am running on the Green Party ballot line and have put forward action plan to transition to green, sustainable energy and hardern our housing, transporation, electrical an water systems for more intense storms; provide funds for all citizens who transtion to patterns brought on by climate change

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

pass DACA; make it easeir for business owners to get visas for foreign-born farm workers; and define pathway to citizenship for trusted farm workers

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Provide legal support to farmers who believe they have been discriminated against as an individual or class of farmers; make sure all government agricultural agencies know government decisions must never be influenced by race or gender


Candidate: Tracy Mitrano

Running for United States House of Representatives (NY-23)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

The top three priorities Tracy will bring to Congress in food and agriculture policy are addressing trade, infrastructure, and labor availability issues in our district. Farmers across this district do not want a handout to bail them out from the effects of a trade war; they want to earn an honest living on their own. We need a measured diplomatic response to renegotiating trade deals that protects farmers in NY-23. Farmers also need the infrastructure, both physical and digital, to run efficient, 21st century farms, to keep family farms competitive in an increasingly difficult market, and to better integrate their operations with their communities. Lastly, Tracy will prioritize addressing labor issues related to immigration and fair labor standards. Farmers and farm workers are the foundation of our district and our country and must be respected as such. Tracy will work for comprehensive immigration reform and the stabilization and expansion of wages and benefits.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

For a generation of young farmers, it is absolutely critical that the price of agricultural land does not become prohibitively high. Just as student debt keeps an entire generation of young people down, the rising cost of land can keep a generation of potential new farmers from ever starting their own farm. Tracy believes that we need to provide federal funding and low-interest loans to young farmers to ensure a new generation of innovative food production. We must introduce incentives that allow small farmers to continue to find a place in the market amidst the widespread consolidation of farms. And we must make sure that we are cooperating with conservation and environmental groups to make land use both affordable and sustainable.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

The Farm Bill and Congress’s plethora of regulations and programs related to agriculture and food are woefully opaque. We need to have information that affects the livelihoods of our farmers readily available, not difficult to understand. The most important aspect of spreading information in the 21st century is that we must provide farmers with the internet access they need to get information from the government or from the private sector. The USDA can be transparent as glass, but if farmers have no reliable access to that information it will not matter. We must also simplify and streamline the application and dissemination processes. As the director of IT policy at Cornell, Tracy translated the implications of complex, jargon-laden policies to those who needed to employ them for over a decade. Tracy has the skill set and is learning every day about how to do the same with agriculture.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Healthcare is the number-one most important issue for voters in our district. Everyday, Tracy hears about how much anxiety residents of NY-23 feel about the possibility of losing their financial stability because of one illness or accident. She feels that existential angst herself. Tracy’s family was nearly bankrupted when a medical emergency led to the passing of her mother. Our district, our country, and our farmers cannot continue living like this. Tracy will fight for a single-payer system because access to a basic level of health care should be an American right. If you or a family member is sick, you should not be forced to choose between going to the doctor and having enough money to pay your rent. Medical costs are absolutely out of control in this country in part because of the piecemeal networks of coverage that we currently have. We must move towards a more equitable and more efficient single-payer system.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

The levels of debt that college students are forced to take on in order to get an education in this country are staggering. Over the course of our campaign, one of the consistent concerns Tracy hears is the need to reform a system of usurious student loans that have kept a generation of young people from truly starting their lives. The next Congress will renew the Higher Education Act and Tracy will fight to provide greater federal support for students, establish a debt forgiveness program, and slash the punishing interest rates that have caused some students to pay back many times what they borrowed. Students, especially those in the agricultural sciences that go to college to learn how to best feed the world and act as good stewards of our land, must be celebrated for attending college and challenging themselves, not punished.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Tracy believes that Congress must address changing climates in order to protect our world for future generations, as well as prevent extreme weather patterns from destroying the livelihood of our farmers. Just this past month, torrential rains led to flooding across the Southern Tier that affected crops as well as residences. In order to address this crisis, we must start cutting back on our reliance on fossil fuels, including a federal ban on hydraulic fracturing that mirrors that of New York. We must also harness renewable energy resources in the Southern Tier including wind and solar. As Congresswoman, Tracy will ensure that programs that are meant to preserve our tomorrow will not burden our farmers of today. While we must begin transitioning off of fossil fuels, it is critical that we do not continue the trend of rising land value that financially hamstrings young farmers.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Our country and our agricultural sector need comprehensive immigration reform immediately. There is an ongoing crisis of undocumented farm workers and underutilization of labor that leads to our farms suffering. We must provide a pathway to citizenship for the farm workers who have been here for years, but we must also reform our immigration system more broadly. The current system incentivizes permanent resettlement rather than temporary, cyclical, employment-based immigration and prevents our system from responding to market forces. It also prevents undocumented farm workers from exercising their full rights as employees and depresses their wages. Tracy supports a system that increases the number of H-2A visas available to farm workers and allows for year-long visas for certain agricultural industries like dairy. This will decrease pressures to cross the border illegally and increase transparency and accountability in agricultural labor.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Discrimination based on race, gender, or sexuality from the federal government is absolutely unacceptable and Tracy will fight tirelessly to ensure fair treatment and consideration from the applicable programs. She supports programs that encourage a new, diverse generation of farmers to enter the fold and will exercise any oversight powers she has to address any evidence of discrimination at the USDA. It is critical to have a strong generation of young people to head up the food production strategies of the coming decades and Tracy fully supports efforts to broaden our perspectives on what kind of background a farmer comes from.

 

North Dakota

Candidate: Heidi Heitkamp

Running for United States Senate, North Dakota

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Agriculture makes up a significant portion of North Dakota’s economy, but at the same time risks in agriculture have never been higher, with many of those risks like weather, drought, and price collapses being out of farmers’ and ranchers’ control. I am committed to supporting a strong safety-net that helps our producers do their jobs and feed the world. This includes initiatives like a strong Farm Bill, a robust crop insurance program, and increased resources to help beginning farmers and ranchers succeed.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Farming and ranching is a way of life in North Dakota and we must do more to cultivate the next generation of family farmers; that means providing them with the support they need to be successful and keep rural communities strong. This is why I’ve introduced the bipartisan Next Generation in Agriculture Act to give young American farmers and ranchers the tools and resources they need to establish a career in agriculture. This bill was incorporated into the recently passed Senate Farm Bill, and I will work to ensure provisions helping young farmers and ranchers are included in the final Farm Bill.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Young farmers and ranchers need to be able to access USDA programs in order to be successful. My Next Generation in Agriculture Act includes provisions to extend the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development (BFRD) program as well as codify a National Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coordinator and Agricultural Youth Coordinator at the USDA. These programs and positions are designed to help increase beginning farmers’ and ranchers’ access to USDA resources that can support them through their agriculture careers.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

At a time of low commodity prices and increased uncertainty in agriculture, higher health costs are the last things that farm and ranch families need. Since day one, I’ve been fighting to make healthcare more affordable for North Dakotans and have been willing to work with anyone on commonsense reforms that are good for our state and agriculture producers. I will continue to work for practical reforms to get costs under control and increase access to quality healthcare in rural America.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

North Dakota’s young people deserve every opportunity to succeed, but with rising levels of student loan debt, we have a serious problem on our hands that has crippled the ability of rural areas to recruit new first responders, doctors, farmers, and other public servants. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation that would strengthen the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by expanding it to volunteer first responders and farmers, because they should be recognized for their important contributions to our rural communities. Debt shouldn’t be a barrier to our young people, and I’ll keep working for ways to address rising student debt while fighting for our beginning farmers and ranchers.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Through changing weather patterns like the recent droughts and flooding that North Dakota has seen, I have talked to farmers and ranchers across the state about ways that Congress can improve assistance in times of hardship. While changing climates need to be addressed, it is also important to strengthen the farm bill to protect and grow programs that farmers and ranchers need to keep their heads above water. That’s why I’m committed to working with our farmers and ranchers to develop programs that work for them and their changing world.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Nearly 24 percent of North Dakota’s workforce is engaged in production agriculture, and I am committed to helping meet the needs of our agriculture communities. This includes enhancing current immigration systems to increase safety, as well as streamlining immigration processes to make them more efficient for North Dakotans.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

We will never end global hunger unless women and smallholder farms play a central role, and that includes women farmers right here in North Dakota. Women have long been involved in agriculture and are increasingly involved in every aspect, taking active rolls in the industry and leading us into the future. I know all too well the trials women can face as they look to take on leadership rolls, and will continue to help grow the number of women leaders in the agriculture community.

 

Ohio

Candidate: James Jerome Bell

Running for United States House of Representatives (OH-11)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

My top priorities are number one reducing pesticides and having healthy food and agriculture number to having reducing run off into the great lakes and number three making our crops agriculture Etc Trey worthy and also to be able to be competitive in the marketplace.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

I believe that Congress should make it easier for transitioning of farmlands two younger Farmers also believe that if possible we need to have more minorities in ownership of farms.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

I believe that with all programs in the federal government meant to help people of all Persuasions including Farmers we need to have them readily available we need to have them computer available and also we need to have a Grassroots effort to reach it individual Farmers where they farm and let them know that we as Congress and government appreciate what they’re doing and we’re going to do everything in our power to make it easily accessible.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I believe that the issue of healthcare and insurance is one that is Paramount the only the farmers but the entrepreneurs and individuals with business I believe that if we have the same parameters that are set forth in the Affordable Care Act that we will be able to surmise and improve upon the things that make Healthcare in America one of the greatest advancements in our in our nation’s history.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

As member of Congress I would try to introduce legislation that farmers have the same types of offsets for their federal student loans as teachers fireman police officers and other public servants as in so much that agriculture is a lifeblood of any country.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

As a member of Congress I realize that acts of nature or God is something that is a variable that we cannot anticipate yet as a member of Congress I believe that we should have insurance initiatives set in place for farmers due to inclement weather disease high temperatures hail storms floods droughts Etc I believe that we can together make farming agriculture profitable sustainable into the 21st century and beyond.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

In the era of the Trump Administration he is on a hotbed of issues as far as immigration migrant and seasonal workers are the lifeblood of Agriculture and as 73% or form born we need to have immigration policies that are favorable to the farmer and the worker let Common Sense prevail.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

It is my duty as a member of Congress that all members and outer cultures Farmers ranchers Etc have a level even playing field regardless of race religion Etc we are the time of substantial change in America farming is changing process from GMOs pesticides in the like we know that it takes a community of farmers ranchers Etc to bring agriculture community in harmony with the principles that were founded in America.


Candidate: Ken Harbaugh

Running for United States House of Representatives (OH-7)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

One in seven Ohio jobs is in agriculture – it’s the state’s largest industry. To support farmers in this critical work we need robust conservation and stewardship programs, improved access to affordable healthcare, and less regulatory red tape. First, programs like Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program are under constant threat. Cutting these programs offers short-term savings that are not worth the long-term costs. We need to make sure farmers receive enough funding to protect our country’s greatest resource. Second, farmers – and all Americans – deserve affordable healthcare. My daughter needed four surgeries before she was four years old. No family should have to wonder, like ours did, whether they will be able to get the care they need. Third, we need to streamline regulations to make sure they are transparent, accessible, and responsive. Unnecessary paperwork and overbearing policies should not stand in the way of economic growth.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Farmland is one of this country’s most important natural resources. Congress should work to make sure it is protected and affordable for the next generation. This means supporting linkage programs and facilitating the transfer of land from retiring to new farmers. It also means making loan programs more accessible so farmers have the resources they need to invest in their businesses. Congress can embrace innovative programs like farm incubators that support farmers as they establish themselves and develop the skills to make their farms even more successful. By reducing barriers to entry, we can protect access to working farmland for years to come.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

When I was working for Team Rubicon, a disaster relief organization that deploys veterans to disaster zones, I often saw bureaucracy get in the way of meaningful help. You can have all the resources in the world, but if they aren’t reaching the people who need them they simply are not doing their job. We need programs that are accessible and responsive to farmers’ needs. They need to be flexible in how they reach people – we should improve in-person services while also developing an online portal for loan applications. Programs need to engage in targeted outreach and education services so qualified farmers don’t miss out. And they need to be streamlined so needless paperwork doesn’t get in the way of crucial services.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

My daughter, Lizzie, was born needing four surgeries before the age of four. We scheduled her first surgery with no way to pay for it. No family should be in that position, and I am appalled by Washington’s attempts to cut our healthcare. Their attempts to repeal the ACA would have stripped health care from 23 million Americans. Their refusal to pay for CHIP would have left over 200,000 Ohio children without care. Their cuts to the ACA will lead to 433,000 Ohioans not having insurance. This summer, the administration halted $10.4 billion in payments that make sure insurers can cover people with pre-existing conditions. And the administration’s cuts to Medicare will lead to rural hospitals getting shut down. I strongly support bipartisan efforts to fix our healthcare system and fully fund the current system, and am encouraged by the efforts of leaders who are reaching across the aisle to responsibly reform our system.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

If elected, I will be one of a handful of Representatives still paying off student loans. We must make college more affordable and reduce the burden of student debt. Congress should take steps such as allowing refinancing and income-based repayment plans, expanding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, indexing Pell Grants to inflation, and increasing the student loan tax deduction. We should also provide greater protection from predatory schools, lenders, and bill collectors. And, before students take on this debt in the first place, we need to make sure the process is transparent and that they have the guidance they need. When it comes to our students, we don’t want money left on the table that could have helped them reach their educational goals.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

As the president of a disaster-response organization, Team Rubicon Global, I saw the effects of climate change firsthand. In 2013, I deployed to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. It was, at the time, the worst typhoon in human history. Since then, we have had several others even bigger.   There was a time when both parties argued not about whether to do something, but about the best course of action. We need to get back there again. Climate change is a threat to our national security, economy, and natural resources. Sec. Mattis says so, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal agrees. This should not be a partisan issue.   Farmers are at the frontlines of this fight. They are bearing the brunt of the worst impacts – severe weather, pests, and disease. But they are also leading the charge to protect our land and resources. Congress can and should do more to support them. We should expand conservation programs and increase funding for technological innovations.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Our nation was built on a promise to immigrants: lay down your burdens, work, live, and dream here. This land can be your home. Amid our country’s discussion of immigration reform, we should not lose sight of that promise.  Ohio farms rely on immigrant workers. We need to reform the H-2A guest worker program. Far from taking American jobs, the program actually creates them. One Ohio farmer said the 45 migrant workers he hires allow the employment of 220 Americans selling his produce in roadside stands. Yet the visa application process remains expensive, slow, and bureaucratic. By streamlining the process the costs of the program could be cut down, opening it up to more farmers.  Beyond the H-2A program, Congress must pursue comprehensive immigration reform. Our immigration system is seriously broken. Both parties must come together to make our immigration system tough, practical, and fair.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

The Constitution demands equal protection under the law for everyone. Anything less is unacceptable. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has said, “Hunger knows no color or creed.” Congress should hold him to that standard. I would work to increase transparency and accountability measures across USDA programs to ensure its promise of equality is backed by concrete actions.

 

Pennsylvania

Candidate: Glenn GT Thompson

Running for United States House of Representatives (PA-15)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Farm family profitability, assuring a reliable agriculture workforce, and farm risk management tools to deal with uncertainty of weather and dairy margins.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

I have led on numerous pieces of legislation to help young and beginning farmers.   Among these efforts includes the bipartisan “Farmers of Tomorrow Act”, which is designed to make it easier for young farmers and veterans to purchase new land to begin a farming career.  Access to land is essential for supporting the next generation of farmers and growing American agriculture,This commonsense legislation will further encourage new farmers and help strengthen rural communities. I am particularly pleased that the bill increases new farming opportunities for our men and women in uniform who have honorably served.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

With the last Farm Bill and the current one that is under consideration efforts have been taken to make make access of USDA programs easier and more efficient.  We should continue to provide the technical assistance to young Farmers to assist them in navigating the federal agriculture programs that are available.  Designating a leadership individual with USDA to be an advocate for young farmers will be an important step.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Health insurance costs continue to escalate and are a tremendous burden on many including those who farm and ranch.   Much remains to be done to make health insurance more affordable.  Changes must be made to increase the number of available health plans /companies, especially in our rural communities.  Additionally, we need greater competition and must end the practice of legalized collusion on coverage areas and rates charged.  Common sense legislation is needed to address the significant costs of medical malpractice and defensive medicine that increases health care costs.   Provisions are needed for Association Health Plans where farmers can join together to negotiate better coverage at lower rates.   Health insurance is a risk management tool.  We must return to a system where individuals / families including young farmers and ranchers can purchase only what they actually need to avoid excessive unnecessary expenses.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

I have introduced a bill that will invest in the next generation of farmers and help them pay back their student loans through an existing program geared toward public service.  H.R. 1060, the Young Farmer Success Act, is a bipartisan bill in an effort to preserve America’s agricultural economy and the security of its national food supply.  Farmers are stewards of the land and cornerstones of our rural communities.  They provide the country with a safe and affordable food supply, but we need to do more to cultivate the future generation of farmers. They face tough odds by the very nature of the business, and this legislation will provide incentives for those who would like to pursue a future in the agriculture industry, which aids our national security and the long-term sustainability of our country.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I have supported USDA programs to research the impact of changing climates on agriculture.  This includes researching impact and implications on specific commodities.  I have also supported and co-sponsored programs that provide assistance to address the threats of wildfires, extreme weather and invasive species on the present and future success of agriculture.  As Vice Chair of the Agriculture Committee I continue to serve in a leadership position supporting the research on these critical issues performed by both USDA and our Land Grant Universities.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Congress must pass as soon as possible a Food Security / Agriculture Workforce bill that provides our farmers and ranchers a reliable AG workforce and assure continued national food security.  It must focus like a laser on AG workforce needs and not be weighed down with other significant immigration issues that must ultimately be dealt with.  An agriculture year-round work visa  system that is administered by USDA is an important part of this.  A reduction in the unnecessary regulations placed on farmers and ranchers who engage these foreign workers is needed.  Any touch back system requiring a worker to return to their Country of origin should work with the normal family requirements and vacations for these workers.  America values and is stronger protecting nuclear families (parents and minor children). The nuclear family of legal foreign agriculture workers should be welcomed, but at no expense to to our farmers, ranchers and taxpayers.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

The law is clear.  Discrimination is illegal and unacceptable!  I will continue to exercise my responsibilities as a senior member of the Agriculture Committee to provide oversight  over all the work of USDA including adherence to nondiscrimination practices.   Additionally, my office is accessible and open for constituents to bring these concerns directly to my attention.

 


Candidate: Dwight Evans

Running for United States House of Representatives (PA-2)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

The preservation of the SNAP program, greater access to capital/farm credit programs for farmers and protecting farmland preservation policies.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

We need to swell the ranks of farmers under the age of 35.  Congress should earmark funds to support additional agricultural High School programs to introduce young adults to farming.  Congress should also create grant and loan programs that can assist young farmers with purchasing farmland, so it stays out of the hands of developers.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Congress should fund education programs through social media and other traditional means to educate farmers on the different USDA programs that are available to them.  Congress should also make the application process easier with less red-tape.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I support a Medicare for All program that individuals could buy into.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Congress should fund scholarship and grant programs for students that go into the agricultural field.  Give students more options outside of taking bank loans to pay for college.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Yes, climate change is real and Congress needs to tackle this global issue.  One of our most vulnerable areas is agriculture and we must put in safeguard programs to address the impacts that climate change will have on farmers.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

We need a long-term immigration policy that addresses those already in this country and those that wish to immigrate here.  Expanding farm worker programs needs to be addressed in any immigration legislation.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Transparency with all government support services and programs is extremely important to addressing discrimination.  Making it public and easily accessible is also important.  Congress should also incorporate outside auditing of programs.


Candidate: Lou Barletta

Running for United States Senate, Pennsylvania

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

In the Senate, my top priorities for food and agricultural policy will be to strengthen and protect risk insurance programs, work to expand market access for American agriculture, and reduce and streamline government regulation for our nation’s farms.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

It’s important to provide agricultural opportunities to young farmers as the nation approaches a large ownership transition. The federal government applies onerous restrictions on landowners across the country. One problem is the penalty for family farms when transferring the farm to the next generation. The Estate Tax, commonly referred to as the Death Tax, imposes an undue burden on family farms who want to keep the farm for the next generation. I will continue to support legislation which repeals the Death Tax to protect our nation’s family farms.  I have also voted in favor of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the Farm Bill, for the 115th Congress. The Farm Bill has critical programs for young, beginning, socially disadvantaged, veteran, and immigrant farmers and ranchers, addressing farm succession, transition, transfer, entry, and profitability issues. I will continue to support all American farmers to improve American agriculture for future generations.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

The USDA’s goal under the Modernize and Innovate the Delivery of Agricultural Systems plan for Information Technology (IT) upgrades is important. However, the mismanagement of its implementation in the last Administration hurt the process. That’s why I am supportive of the Trump Administration’s IT Modernization Strategy released last year. Updating the IT of the federal government will help farmers access the programs and resources they need to support their farms.  Access to broadband is a major issue for the future of farming in Pennsylvania. Internet access enhances the ability to reach markets, harvest crops, and to connect to the USDA for up to date information on federal programs. As the federal government continues to modernize its internet infrastructure, broadband access will continue to change how access to programs  That’s why I support investments in our nation’s infrastructure for the 21st century economy and ensure that all Americans have access to high-speed internet.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Association health insurance plans were once a way many farmers in Pennsylvania received access to healthcare. But the Affordable Care Act prohibited different avenues for the private market to pool resources and reduce the cost of health insurance. That’s why I supported H.R. 1101, the Small Business Health Fairness Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support. Though large businesses and labor organizations have the ability to negotiates lower costs for high quality health insurance coverage for employees, small businesses and associations are prohibited from joining together under Association Health Plans to negotiate with the same power.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Student loan debt is one of the major issues which will have repercussions across the economy. As more and more students graduate with student loan debt, they are financially barred from the American traditions of buying a home, starting a family, and saving for the future. There is no simple answer for the student loan debt problem, however, more economic growth supported by the expansion of education into Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools will help ease the problem. I helped to craft the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, sponsored by Rep. Glenn Thompson.  It’s why I also voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and support the Trump Administration’s regulatory rollback policy to reduce the burden on job creators and drive economic growth. Without a growing economy that supports wage and job growth, the burden of student loans will increasingly weigh down the next generation of Americans.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Infrastructure to protect residential and commercial areas from natural disasters has been an important issue to me while serving in Congress. When the town of Bloomsburg was hit by devastating flooding in 2011, I worked to secure grant funding for flood mitigation. This year, Bloomsburg announced the final stage of funding to complete the Bloomsburg Floodwall.     As the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, FEMA comes under my jurisdiction. While Chairman, I’ve introduced major reforms to protect communities from natural disasters through pre-disaster mitigation infrastructure investment.  I introduced H.R. 4460, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act to shift the focus on the front end of disasters instead of the back end. Studies have shown my bill can save anywhere from $4 to $8 after a disaster hits for every $1 we spend in pre-disaster mitigation on the front end.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

It’s important farmers have access to the labor they need to harvest the crops that keep our nation strong and vibrant. Through legal guest worker programs, farmers gain access to the labor they need. However, the process for obtaining guest workers is outdated and inefficient. That’s why I support the needed reforms to America’s guest worker program to benefit American farmers and make the process more efficient and timely.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

All Americans should be treated equally under the law. Regardless of race, color, or creed, in America, we abide by the principle that all are created equal. Should discrimination happen anywhere in the federal government or with federal funds, the incident should be investigated and dealt with accordingly under the law.

Rhode Island

Candidate: James R. Langevin

Running for United States House of Representatives (RI-2)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Top three ag priorities: 1) promoting a thriving food economy in Rhode Island; 2) advocating for the Congressional passage of a bipartisan Farm Bill; and 3) assisting local farmers with federal agencies, such as the FDA, USDA, and EPA, to be sure their concerns are heard and they are being treated fairly.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Farming is a proud way of life, and a skilled trade. By providing the resources for career training, we can help ensure that agriculture is an option for the next generation. As co-chair of the Career and Technical Education Caucus, I am proud to co-lead a bill that would update the FFA’s charter, allowing the organization to more effectively train future farmers.  I was also proud to help lead the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, a bill to reauthorize federal investment in CTE, which the President signed into law on July 31, 2018. Strong investment in CTE programs, including agriculture career pathways, will equip the next generation of farmers with the skills to succeed.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Federal resources are only helpful if people know how to use them. My district staff readily helps our Rhode Island farmers when questions arise regarding federal agencies. I will continue to encourage more local outreach by agencies to our farmers, with resources described in straightforward language.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Americans need affordable, quality health care. The Affordable Care Act was not a perfect law, but it was a significant step toward expanding coverage for millions of Americans, including 100,000 Rhode Islanders.  However, many Rhode Islanders are seeing steep premium increases due to efforts to undermine the law. That’s why I introduced the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act, a bill that would create a stabilization fund to increase competition among insurers and lower premiums.  We must work on a bipartisan basis to advance solutions that improve access to health care and lower out of pocket costs, including proposals to address the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Student loan debt is a massive burden on our nation’s graduates, and I’m working in Congress to ensure every student has access to a debt-free, high-quality degree that will prepare them for a rewarding career. I support strengthening Pell grants, expanding public service loan forgiveness, and increasing opportunities for high school students to enroll in college courses. Investing in CTE will ensure students receive the appropriate credentials to prepare them for careers in agriculture, among other skilled trades, and I introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to forgive Parent loans if their child becomes disabled.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Congress must lead when it comes to responding to climate change. Through my work on the House Armed Services Committee, I was proud to include language (signed into law in 2017) that highlights the national security threats of climate change to the United States. However, the agricultural, public health and economic threats are just as pervasive. As the climate becomes more volatile, we must be aware of the unpredictability this will cause for farmers. Congress should be ready to support further research about the climate threat, so that farmers can better understand and plan for its consequences.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

I have long supported comprehensive immigration reform. This means securing our borders so we know who is coming into and leaving the country. It also means finding a legal path forward for the millions of undocumented immigrants who are working, paying taxes, and supporting their communities. But most importantly, it means reforming our broken visa system so that businesses have access to the workforce they need and the United States continues to be a nation of legal immigrants.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I continue to support proactive efforts at the USDA to invest in opportunities in agriculture for those from a diverse range of backgrounds.

 

Tennessee

Candidate: Renee Hoyos

Running for United States House of Representatives (TN-2)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Pass a reauthorized farm bill.  End tariffs that harm U.S. agricultural trade.  Provide for a more efficient verified worker program.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Ensure the latest technology(such as broadband) and training are available for rural communities.  This would include agricultural programs as part of vocational and technical education in high schools.  Continue to encourage a lower tax rate on agricultural land

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Ensure that local USDA offices are staffed and make electronic ‘paper work’ more efficient.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

I have made shoring up the Affordable Care Act coverage for individuals a priority.  As well, we should establish procurement policies that lower drug prices for government programs and for individuals.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

I recently called for lowering interest rates for federal student loans, an action that Congress can take.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Yes, Congress should make reducing the greenhouse gasses that lead to climate change.  We need more renewable energy sources.  I think tax incentives available for residential installers of renewable energy should be extended to all agricultural operations.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Work visas need to be clear, for employers and employees.  Immigration services need to work with agricultural communities to improve the process and verification.  I believe these workers greatly benefit the United States.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I have embraced equality as part of my campaign.  As a member of Congress, I would continue to work to ensure that discrimination is eliminated from government programs.

 

Texas

Candidate: Greg Sagan

Running for United States House of Representatives (TX-13)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1. Restore regulations that guarantee clean air, soil and water; 2. Create and maintain robust international agricultural trade; 3. Set realistic crop insurance levels

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

We should adopt universal, single-payer health insurance to keep all members of farming families on the farm; we should make net-neutral, high speed internet available to all rural communities; we should adapt agricultural production to current environmental realities, such as water availability; we should simplify tax burdens on family farms to encourage legacy farming; we should adopt price supports that ensure family farms can maintain profitability

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

The USDA will have to improve its advertising of available programs to farmers and simplify applications to record only the most important data; Congress can and should take the initiative in finding out from farmers and ranchers what kind of programs should also be made available; broader internet access can help with both sets of issues

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Work to adopt universal, single-payer health care. Once this is in place I would favor setting up a “medical academy” much like West Point or Annapolis to train doctors and nurses and then assign them wherever they are needed until they complete six years of service, after which they would be free to relocate wherever they want.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

I would cancel student loan debt and make four-year college and equivalent technical training free.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I do absolutely believe that Congress should address climate change, and I would press for such action relentlessly

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

For starters we should abandon the idea of a southern border wall. Beyond that I would like to see us create a North American Economic Union embracing Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, with no tariffs and low barriers to migration.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I believe the strongest weapon Congress carries with respect to illegal discrimination by executive branch agencies is through hearings on issues arising from that discrimination. If there is a requirement for enabling legislation to be passed first then that’s where I would start.


Candidate: Calvin DeWeese

Running for United States House of Representatives (TX-13)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

My priority for any business, is to reduce government interference, and increase the business owner’s ability to make a profit.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

I think the farm owner should be able to sell his property to whom ever he wants.  I do not think government should interfer with the exchange of property.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?


Candidate: Miguel Levario

Running for United States House of Representatives (TX-19)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

I believe we need to safeguard our farmers’ safety nets and make them competitive in a global economy. We need to safeguard SNAP benefits so that working families can feed themselves and their children. Fund and support research that will enable our farmers to withstand and adjust to climate change and a depleting water supply.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

We need to ensure that our farmers have adequate and easy access to federal programs meant to serve them. A way that Congress can better serve our farmers is to provide accessible outreach to farmers directly.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Guaranteed healthcare for everyone.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

The burden of student loan debt affects many people and I think we need to invest in our young people by expanding and providing loan forgiveness programs when they are employed or enrolled in a needed industry, like farming or teaching, so more will be willing to pursue the much needed profession.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

First, I believe in the fact that climate change is real and the effects are compounded by man-made activity. Famers are some of our most effective conservationists and we need to fund and support research and practice that safeguards our natural resources like water. Moreover, the circumstances by which are farmers are subject to obligate us as a government to support and protect them. The longstanding bipartisan Farm Bill is an example of how we can move forward to protect those most vulnerable.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

We need a clean Dream Act and a comprehensive immigration bill that seeks to create a more effective pathway to legal residency for those who have contributed to our economy and communities. By documenting people, everyone wins as both employers and workers will adequately be contributing to the tax base.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

We need to adequately support the offices that oversee discrimination cases and make sure they are staffed and funded so that such cases are fewer every year.


 

Candidate: Desarae Lindsey

Running for United States House of Representatives (TX-25)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Remove government involvement and corporate money so that the industry can truly flourish.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

I believe this is entirely up to the farmers, not to Congress.  It’s an issue for them to address as they see fit.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

The USDA could definitely employ more young people friendly marketing tactics.  The red tape involved in these types of loans can be a bit daunting, even for an experienced buyer.  However, with regards to the application, perhaps these fine folks can seek out mentors.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Government absolutely should NOT be involve with health insurance.  Once we move them – and corporate interests – from the equation, we would see costs go down exponentially.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Student debt is an incessantly looming dark cloud that stunts growth in the lives of young people.  The only way to make college more affordable would be to remove government from the equation and allow the higher education facilities to compete in a free market.  This would also loosen the noose of debt that far too many are forced to start their adult life with.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I believe this issue should be addressed by those who are trained in this subject as a field of study, and not for government interference.  We all know they tend to make things worse and more expensive, and are the #1 polluter on the planet.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Workers should be free to travel wherever necessary in order to improve their lives and the lives of their families and community.  Open the borders!  Free travel is necessary for human flourishing.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

No discrimination should EVER occur, particular from a government backed agency.  I’d love to see us move away from USDA and more towards farmer crowdfunding and so on.  People should be free to make any choices that better their lives, including taking their business elsewhere if they feel discriminated against or mistreated.


Candidate: Neal Dikeman

Running for United States Senate, Texas

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Texas has always been an ag state.  My family has been ranching and farming for over 100 years in Texas.  My top priority is that we ensure free trade and market access, clean water, and a sustainble future for ag business.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Reforming tax codes has and will help.  But I think one of the biggest challenges to ag as been uncertain futures, climate change and water access, having great schools in small towns for young families, and rising property values driven by artificial interest rate policies threatening the viability of the transition.  But I will say haveing been part of the tech revoluation in ag, and believe we will make strides in the next decades that are gamechangers compared to what we have done before.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Red tape and inefficiency in government continue to be a problem that Libertarians work hard to address.  We continually spend more money to fix the wrong problems than they are worth.  Having been through government program “form hell” personally before, I understand the issue.  Industry learned to address this decades ago with customer centric approaches and lean techniques.  Check out our campaign comics on nealdikeman.com

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

This one is huge.  And a big problem for small businesses like family ag.  We have proposed a complete rewrite of our broken healthcare funding system.  Today doctors work for insurers; insurers for your boss; nobody works for you; so the system doesn’t work. We need a Million Payer system: health insurance not tied to your job with spiraling costs hidden by government intervention and a bad 1940s corporate tax deal.  Where you buy insurance directly, usable anywhere not just in a private insurer network.  Give you corporate tax deal, open up the networks, require good faith estimates.  Address cost and choice, not restrict price and service.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Spiraling costs for college are a major issue, caused by bad Federal student loan policies enabling colleges to run up costs and level them on our students with no accountability.  Combined with healthcare and rising land costs, this is a triple threat.  I went to Texas A&M as a 3rd generation Aggie.  I understand the issue, and have plans to fix it.  Counterintuitively, it involves less government loan support, not more, in favor of internship and scholarship programs.  As colleges have simply run up their administrative costs to match the loan increase the federal government provided, leaving our students paying the cost.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Actions speak louder than words, and a detailed climate change solution won’t fit in a paragraph of sound bites. Unlike my competitors in this race, Libertarians like me don’t wait for the government to act to make a difference.  I’ve actually founded and run a company dedicated to reducing Co2, and founded numerous others developing and providing clean energy technologies in from smart grid to efficiency to solar to fuel cells.  That being said, I started in the energy sector in Texas, and understand the oil & gas, industry and ag concerns very well.  I’ve even authored a book chapter on how to reduce carbon with the least impact to our economy.  I am probably one of the few candidates for Federal office anywhere with the background, technological skills and track record to write policy to deliver on this issue while growing the economy. And yes, I am also the only candidate in the race that also understands the unique climate challenges with ag.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

We need a complete overhaul of immigration, including an actual world class guest worker program, and address healthcare funding reform.  Most Americans do not realize exactly how integrated immigration, food security and ag are.  The main parties, for largely political capital reasons, have delayed for decades reforming immigration, and ignored the impact of that failure on both manufacturing and ag.  I am not a career politician on a career ladder worried about the next election or my funding. I am the Libertarian Nominee who knows your industryand is taking time from my young family and businesses to get work for you.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I am not in favor of discrimination, certainly not from a government who works for us.


Candidate: Bob McNeil

Running for United States Senate, Texas

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1. Abolish income taxes; 2. reduce regulations; 3. expand markets

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Abolish the Estate Tax, which will allow family farms to stay in the family. Abolish the Capital Gains tax, which will allow the seller to realize the full value of the proceeds received.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Eliminate all Federal farm programs, since they are unconstitutional, and restore the responsibility for food production to the States, ensuring more local control and easier access for farmers.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Abolish the income tax, which robs ALL Americans of their wealth and their ability to provide for themselves and their families; repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which has increased health insurance premiums and deductibles beyond the reach of most Americans;; restore free market access health insurance, resulting in more choices to fit the needs of individual citizens/families; allow purchase of health insurance across state lines to increase competition, which will lower prices.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Abolish the income tax and Social Security tax, which takes 30%-50% of gross pay from every working American’s pocketbook; use that increase in take home pay to pay off student loans quickly, leaving more wealth for you to enjoy and provide the necessities for you and your family for the rest of your life.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Any objective research into “climate change” reveals it to be no more than a wealth redistribution scheme. I oppose any Federal legislation that confiscates the wealth of one American and gives it to another, no matter what the reason. Severe and unpredictable weather patterns have existed since time began and are subject to natural forces beyond the ability of humans to control. I support abolishing the income tax, increasing the wealth of ALL Americans, thereby enabling farmers to buy insurance to protect them from the losses from natural disasters, just as other Americans do.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

I support strictly controlled migrant worker visas allowing foreigners to come to America to work, but, requiring them to return to their home countries when the harvest season ends.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

As a U.S. Senator, I would represent the entire State of Texas. I support restoring State control over agricultural policies.

Vermont

Candidate: Brad Peacock

Running for United States Senate, Vermont

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

First I believe we need to create a major farming initiative in our country that provides the resources and education for anyone wanting to get into the farming profession.  We need to provide the next generation of farmers with the proper resources so that they may continue working the land in sustainable ways.  Second I would like to update and fix our milk pricing system.  We can not afford to keep using family farms in rural areas due to an antiquated system that causes milk prices to fluctuate so much.  This places a tremendous burden on our small dairy farmers.  Lastly, focusing on dealing with climate change is going to be one of our largest issues moving forward, but beyond that we need to be creating regional food hubs so more farmers have the opportunity to expand their markets and produce value added goods, allowing farms to enhance their revenue and hire more people, in our rural economies that desperately need more jobs.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Land access to young farmers is crucial.  Congress needs to be aware that farming is a national security interest and they also need to keep in mind that affordability of these lands for young farmers is crucial.  As stated in my previous answer, we need Congress to fund initiatives that provide the resources needed in order for young farmers to obtain low interest loans and the education needed to run a successful farm.  Affordability and viability in the profession are two crucial components in moving forward.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Congress can help to streamline the process and provide more funding for state programs that offer help to young farmers.  Like many things in government we have the ability to streamline, enhance and make programs run more efficiently.  We need to streamline much of what we do in government to keep up with the speed and pace of technology and in my view this is not happening within the USDA due to lack of proper funding.  The bottom line is we need to provide our states with the resources needed for to reach out and help young farmers succeed.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

As a young farmer myself I have struggled with this problem.  Health Insurance is crucial when you are farming as, we all know it is very physical work, where you are much more susceptible to injury.  I believe that healthcare us a human right and we should be working towards a universal healthcare system.  You don’t get into farming to become wealthy, and I think it is time we begin to recognize the tremendous importance of farming to our national security, and survival as a species.  Until we get to a universal healthcare system, perhaps it is time to think about health insurance tax breaks for farmers, or larger subsidies for farm workers.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

I myself am saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.  I believe farming to be a national security profession and would fight for programs to be implemented that would absolve farmers from their student loans after 7-10 years in the profession.  We should also continue with an Income Based repayment system that is set up in such a way that does not inhibit anyone from farming.  We must make farming more viable for younger generations and student loan forgiveness and income based payments are key in expanding our profession to young people.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I absolutely believe that Congress should address our changing climates.  As a farmer we are on the front lines of climate change and we are aware of the difficulties that it presents.  Congress should be acting to help mitigate the damage due to our changing weather and have programs in place to help farmers adapt to our new reality.  In Vermont where I farm I have seen an explosion of diseases and pests over the past decade and this is a disturbing trend for our future.  We can’t spray our way out of this problem and need to come up with more sustainable farming practices.  The increase of pesticides use due to our changing climate is killing off the beneficial insects we need to mitigate our existing problems, so we need to come together and work towards what our sustainable farming future looks like.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

We have to do a better job of reaching out to younger generations and convincing them that farming is a viable profession.  It really comes down to how viable the younger generation sees farming as a future or career for themselves.  If we as a society are focused on obtaining wealth, over land stewardship, a clean environment, and providing food for our communities than I think we will continue to have a shortage in natural born farm workers.  Farming truly is a labor of love, and though the chances of getting monetarily “wealthy” in the profession are slim, what you gain in other areas, such as a stronger connection to your community, land, and environment provide you with an experience that few jobs can ever come close to matching.  In cases where farms are experiencing a lack of workers we should have a legal temporary worker visa system that is streamlined and in place for those areas of the country that tend to rely on more foreign farm workers.     

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

I support all USDA employees to go through extensive race, gender, and any form discrimination training to ensure all people are getting the same service and opportunity.  In my view discrimination of any kind is disqualifying for anyone in public service.

Washington

Candidate: Joseph Brumbles

Running for United States House of Representatives (WA-10)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Lifting unnecessary restrictions, Grants and other means to help farmers keep their farms , strengthen other support networks and maintain infrastructure.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Focus on farm education and streamlining any other support

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

Reform the process, with a focus on streamlining as stated before. Make the process easier for the applicant. Market these programs to farmers through ads and other avenues.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Reform healthcare so that it is affordable to all. Do this by utilizing the free market system, causing the insurance companies to compete for business, etc.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Possibly wave the student loan interest for farmers in needed areas. Reform the timeframe in which they should make payments to align with when the farmers are paid.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

I believe that we need to do our part to maintain our environment. That being said there is only so much that can be done about the climate, since Earths climate has always changed. We should definitely keep a focus on what we can do as well as any impacts it may have on farmers. I do believe that we should help farmers adapt , especially in odd years where extreme drought kicks in or other natural disasters.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

We should try to work with those who are willing to become legal immigrants and will become an asset to our country. I do believe they’ll need to do it the right way. However I also believe that just like the trade tariffs etc with China, we will need to adapt to the foreign born laborers or shortage if there becomes one. We can do this by hiring locally, by putting agriculture class in High Schools , among other trade type programs. This would also help to bring fourth a new generation of farmers as well. We definitely have the people and resources, we just need to focus on driving it home.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

No special treatment in regards to race or gender. Everyone should be treated the same.


Candidate: Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Running for United States House of Representatives (WA-5)

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

Agriculture is vital to Eastern Washington, and to my life. I grew up working on my family’s peach farm in Kettle Falls, and showing animals in 4-H.  My first priority is my strong, urgent opposition to the broad-based tariffs imposed by the administration. We live in the most trade-dependent state in the country. Washington farmers sell our products all over the world. I will continue to oppose these tariffs in favor of more trade deals and greater access to global markets. Second, I am fighting for passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which will provide needed support for local farmers, helping protect crop insurance and boosting the Market Access Program.  Third, I want increased funding for agricultural research. Our Washington State University is a world-renowned center of agricultural expertise and innovation. We need to invest in the research programs that support our farmers, our agriculture sector and which inform public policy. The Farm Bill includes funds to support this work.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

Secure and affordable access to land is a major challenge faced by young farmers, particularly given increased costs of farmland. We need to improve and strengthen existing agency programs that help farmers to access land and capital funds.  Last year I led on the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which included provisions to raise the cap on the estate tax, helping older farmers pass on their farms while keeping them intact. The Act provides full and immediate expensing for 5 years for farmers to purchase new equipment and assets, helping many new farmers modernize and expand. It also sets the lowest marginal small business tax rates in decades.  I have also supported USDA programs promoting rural broadband deployment. To incentivize young people to explore agriculture, I co-sponsored the Student Agriculture Protection Act, which creates a tax exemption for the first $5,000 of income students earn from projects completed through 4-H, FFA or approved student programs.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

USDA must enhance its focus on customer service, and particularly its deployment of local staff. We need far more robust outreach efforts conducted by locally-based USDA employees, to ensure that farmers have full information about which programs are available. Overly burdensome paperwork requirements must be addressed to enable young farmers to access the support they need.  We should also review the mechanism of delivery of these important programs to ensure that it has kept up with technological innovation, and if necessary take steps to modernize USDA systems.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

Ensuring access to affordable, quality healthcare for all is one of my top priorities, particularly given rising premium costs. I’ve supported Association Health Plans, which allow farmers and small business owners to band together to purchase health insurance – increasing their purchasing power and bringing down costs. As a member of the Education and Workforce Committee, I helped the passage of this legislation through Congress. I’ve fought to bring more doctors to rural Eastern Washington. The Teaching Health Centers and Graduate Medical Education Extension Act will increase numbers of primary doctors, OBGYNs and psychiatrists in rural, underserved areas, doubling funding for residency programs. More broadly, we must provide certainty and end steep premium increases. I’ve supported: new legislation to help stabilize insurance markets, and to address medical liability reform; Association Health Plans; Health Savings Accounts; and the ability to purchase insurance across state lines.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

I worked my way through college, and finally paid off my loans this year. It’s a particular challenge for young farmers who need to access capital to invest in land and equipment. In Congress, I’ve fought to keep student loan rates from increasing. I also co-sponsored the Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2017 (H.R. 2482). Perkins Loans are needs-based loans to college students, where the cost is shared by the government, the student, and the school. This bill extends Perkins Loans through 2019. I also supported a return to year-round Pell Grants, which will provide additional benefits to about one million students to help them better afford college. My opponent has taken a very different approach to college affordability. As State Senate Leader in Olympia, Lisa Brown oversaw a doubling of tuition rates for state universities over seven years. Under her leadership, our state government dramatically cut college funding, forcing institutions to pass on the costs to students.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Yes, Congress must adequately fund agricultural research to help farmers adapt to changing climates – including research into new crop varieties, pests and diseases. I have fought to increase funds for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in support of this work.  When wheat producers were faced with quality discounts for low “falling numbers” (FN), I led to ensure that ARS had funds for a dedicated researcher to address the issue, including potentially developing an improved wheat quality test.  Our energy policy should be an “all-of-the-above” approach. Congress needs to support development of low-carbon energy sources that reduce carbon emissions. I am an advocate for renewable energy, such as Biomass Energy and hydrogen fuel cells – and particularly the clean, renewable, reliable and affordable energy produced by our hydropower system in the Pacific Northwest. Our dams in Eastern Washington also benefit farmers through flood control, irrigation and transportation of commodities.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

Agriculture guest visa workers represent 20 percent of our seasonal local labor force. We depend on these workers to keep this industry thriving. Currently, the agriculture guest worker program doesn’t provide an adequate seasonal labor supply for our farmers, which is why I support reforms to allow needed workers into the country. Later this year in Congress, I look forward to working on a bill that creates a workable, accessible guestworker program that meets our demand.   Our approach should focus on: cutting processing challenges and red tape to ensure farmers get the labor they need; ensuring the guestworker program is both straightforward and affordable; ensuring that there isn’t a massive disruption to the system so that farmers can access needed labor while we transition to a more workable system; and creating an at-will program that will provide workers and employers flexibility during growing season.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Racism and bigotry have no place in our United States. I hold dear the provision of the Declaration of Independence which states that all people are created equal. Federal and state governments have processes in place aimed at addressing discrimination in the workplace. I fully support these processes. Having said that, I would encourage USDA to review how it monitors the provision of services across different groups, in particular to ensure that the department has checks in place to prevent any repeat of past discriminatory practices. I support federal and state governments working to ensure that no discrimination takes places in the delivery of support and services by our agriculture agencies.

 

 

Wisconsin

Candidate: Leah Vukmir

Running for United States Senate, Wisconsin

 

What are your top three priorities for food and agricultural policy?

1. I will fight for better trade deals for our farmers. Right now Wisconsin farmers are being hurt by the unfair trade practices of other countries and evening the playing field is a top priority.  2. We need to improve innovation and sustainability in the agricultural economy. Just like any industry, we need to improve how we plant and harvest crops and continue to improve upon advancing the agricultural industry.  3. We need to grow the number of markets that farmers have access to.

With farmers over 65 outnumbering farmers under 35 by a margin of 6-to-1, the nation’s farmland is rapidly transitioning ownership. It’s estimated that 10% of America’s farmland is likely to change hands in the next five years. How do you think Congress should address this trend?

This is something that Congress needs to pay close attention to. As the breadbasket to the world, America’s farmers play a vital role in feeding all parts of the globe. Congress should be looking at creative ways to attract younger generations into the farming industry.

Many young farmers have reported difficulty accessing USDA programs either because of the time-consuming application or because they simply are unaware of the federal programs meant to serve them. How could Congress and USDA improve delivery of these programs and better ensure young farmers can access them?

I firmly believe that every agency, including the US Department of Agriculture has unneeded burdensome regulations.  Congress needs to seriously examine how the USDA enacts regulations and any regulation that prevents new farmers from entering the market should be seriously examined. We need a process that encourages more young farmers to enter the agricultural economy, not a burdensome regulatory scheme that limits opportunity.

In NYFC’s 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, health insurance was cited as one of the top challenges young farmers and ranchers face. As a member of Congress, how would you address this challenge?

As a nurse, I understand that healthcare is one of the main issues facing this country. For young farmers struggling with finding affordable plans, we need to provide them with more options. This requires repealing Obamacare that has forced many insurers out of the marketplace and increased costs. We need to bring healthcare decisions back to the states, provide consumers with more information, and allow providers to cross state lines.  For farmers it would also be beneficial to create a system that allows them to enter into health insurance plans as a group.  All of these reforms will bring about more competition and create a more efficient and affordable healthcare environment.   

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents in our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey had a degree beyond high school. At the same time, 46% of respondents in our survey listed student loan debt as either a ‘significant challenge’ or ‘somewhat of a challenge’ to their ability to farm. As a Member of Congress, how would you address this issue?

Student debt is a serious problem facing our country today. In Wisconsin, we have frozen tuition at our public universities in addition to allocating more money to encourage financial responsibility. Unfortunately though, this is not enough. Congress should look at creative solutions to both reigns in the skyrocketing price of education and provide financial relief to students.

Across the country, NYFC members have experienced severe weather patterns including drought, floods, wildfires, and hail storms.  Higher temperatures are also leading to changes in pest and disease pressures. All of these events are having negative impacts on farm profitability.  Do you believe that Congress should address changing climates? As a Member of Congress, would you help farmers adapt?

Weather is incredibly difficult to predict. It is important Congress have contingency plans in place when natural disasters hit there so there will be aid available to help farmers.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 73% of farm workers are foreign-born. How should the nation’s immigration policy address this finding?

We need to a system that is efficient and allows immigrant workers to participant in farming communities. Migrant workers are an important part of our agricultural economy and we need to ensure they are here legally and abiding by the law.

Past lawsuits have documented discrimination at USDA based on race and gender. How would you ensure that all farmers in your district receive equal support and services from the federal government?

Discrimination is not okay in any context. In Congress I will work to combat this on every level of government and make sure that every person working in the agricultural industry is treated equally and fair.

 

 

 

NYFC is a 501(c)3 non-profit and does not endorse or oppose any candidates, nor did we edit, summarize, or evaluate these responses.

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