Economic Stimulus and Revitalization There has been loads of recent excitement over Resorts World Catskills' highly anticipated opening, and though it finds itself in direct competition with ten other gambling casinos in the eastern market, the general consensus is that it will hold its own, especially come the summer and autumn seasons when the water park and golf courses are expected to draw in even more visitors. Positions continue to be filled.
It has been tough going for Hudson Valley's dairy farmers over the past few years, with milk prices continuing to dip below production costs and no government subsidies in sight to offer any degree of relief. Many of them are now facing severe hardships - this after years of making annual premium payments to the Dairy Margin Protection Program - a program introduced to them as insurance against the catastrophic losses caused by a failing market.
There is approximately $100 million dollars in the fund which has remained basically untouched, in the U.S. Treasury, with less than $1 million paid out in 2016 and even less paid out in the preceding year, or the year following . A refund plan, through the Premium Refund Act, is being proposed to return these unused premiums back into the pockets of our dairy farmers. The plan is being spearheaded by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
In the interim, the 2018 Farm Bill has been published and released and provides some actionable steps for the sustainability of our local farms, but unfortunately, our smaller farms will not benefit very much as far as subsidies go.
In the United States, over 800 million acres of land are used for agricultural purposes (plants and livestock), and of these, just over one half of a percent, or 6 million acres, is used for organic farming. This would prove to be a great niche industry in our region once developed, but would require us to invest in converting from chemical intensive agriculture to organic.
As your representative, I would advocate for a bill that invests in organic agriculture that protects the land; and I would encourage Hudson Valley residents to do the same. Growing more organic crops equals less expensive organic produce in the supermarket. Today, approximately 80% of certified organic foods are being imported into the U.S. We need business innovation and policy change to support organic food growth (a $25 billion industry)! Agritourism is also an area we should continue to cultivate in our region.
Small business continues to be the driving force dominating the economic landscape for us living in the Hudson Valley. Small business owners bring unique services to our local business districts and often support their communities financially and materially, through in-kind services, or merely by their presence. It is equally important to support them.
Workforce Development: Lastly, I cannot reiterate enough, the importance of investing in our youth to prepare them for these jobs and others. Whether they follow along an academic path: going to university or community college; attend a vocational program; enlist in the military; or train as apprentices, they will be job-ready and well-prepared for the future.