Consider healthy choices in candidates

Commentary: Looking ahead in District 23

Seed catalogs are beginning to arrive. As I paged through the Fedco catalog dreaming of ripe red tomatoes and huge heads of broccoli, I came across this quote, “I have faith that small farms, good food and thriving ecosystems will survive.” Our local small farms with rising costs and sinking incomes may not have that faith. Yet this statement reflects an evolving American market and social values that could restore that faith.

More and more Americans are realizing that health is their only wealth. They want good food, food that is grown or raised by someone that pays more attention to quality than quantity. They want a thriving ecosystem, an ecosystem sustained by environmentally conscious farming practices. Small farms could provide what these Americans want.

I am a member of the Chautauqua Cattaraugus Counties Women’s Action Group. We look for actions that help resolve social issues like struggling small farms. Tracy Mitrano, candidate for U.S Congress of our District 23, has identified some political actions that could help our small farms. She wrote in one of her newsletters, “We need to make it easier for young people and new farmers to get into farming, find mentors, access affordable loans and get up to date research. With these issues in mind I support:”

¯ Fully funding, staffing and supporting the USDA including their research agencies which are under attack by the Trump administration. USDA is responsible for providing farmers with the latest research and agricultural strategies. The Trump administration is forcing experienced researchers to move 1,000 miles from their homes or quit, most choose to quit so that their valuable experience and knowledge is no longer available to those who need it most like small farms adapting to new American market.

Also, both Trump and our current congressman, Tom Reed opposed the 2019 bill that increases funds for the USDA’s research agencies (in spite of their efforts the bill did pass).

¯ Expanding the definition of ‘family’ in the New York Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act to include more extended family, which better represents the reality of family farming

¯ Passing the Young Farmer Success Act, which would include farmers and ranchers as being employed in ‘public service jobs’ for purposes of eligibility for loan forgiveness under the Federal Direct Loan program

¯ Increasing broadband connectivity to every farm so that the latest in 21st century technology is available to our farmers, today.”

If interested in finding out more about Tracy Mitrano and her views on this topic and others see her website mitrano2020.com or follow her on Facebook.

If future legislators like Tracy could be given the opportunity to follow through on these actions then maybe our small farms could transform into ones that align with what the we, the American people, want and these farms will survive and thrive and so will we.

Christine Nelson-Scherman is a Conewango Valley resident.