Western New York is home to an incredible amount of agriculture.
In fact, in 2017, NY-27 ranked the No. 1 congressional district in the entire state for agricultural sales. An impressive achievement, one that makes me proud to represent our farmers on the House Agriculture Committee in Congress.
As many of you may know, June is National Dairy Month. A month dedicated to recognizing the importance of dairy to our culture, our economy, and our health. Let’s start with some statistics. In 2017, NY-27 alone accounted for $538,665,000 in milk sales produced from over 280,000 cows, second in the entire state. New York consistently ranks in the top five dairy-producing states in the entire country as well.
Not only is dairy a regional economic cornerstone, it’s part of our culture. Our region has been built by generation after generation of family farms working tirelessly to provide nutritious dairy products. Towns across our region celebrate dairy farmers every year; we hold parades and festivals, farmers markets are flooded with delicious products, and schools routinely bring children to dairy farms to learn more.
It is not enough to solely celebrate this industry as part of our heritage — we need to ensure it is a thriving part of our future. For you, that means buying local dairy products whenever possible to support our great family farms. This not only helps farmers, but it also helps the countless small businesses that collaborate with producers to make exciting new products — like the bacon maple cheese I had the pleasure of enjoying from Merle Maple in Attica.
I also understand that this is not a one-sided effort; that is why I have prioritized supporting dairy farmers, especially with my role on the Agriculture Committee. In Congress, I have called for action to compel Canada to uphold dairy market expansion provisions included in the USMCA. Just last month the new U.S. Trade Representative acted on this request to start a formal process to challenge Canada’s dairy tariff rate quota program, which has hurt exports of American dairy products to Canada. Enforcement efforts like this will provide new opportunities for our dairy farmers to thrive.
I have also been working tirelessly to increase broadband access. As recently as 2017, 21% of farmers in our region did have reliable internet access. As operations become more advanced, lack of internet access will be a major barrier to increased success. As such, I recently cosponsored the Broadband for Rural America Act to target funds directly to hardest-to-reach rural communities.
Finally, dairy farming only survives if there is an eager and well-trained new generation to carry the torch. I am a strong supporter of programs to get our children more engaged in a career in agriculture. I believe we need more programs to develop interest and show our young adults there is an exciting and fulfilling career in farming.
Dairy Month gives us a chance each year to celebrate dairy farming at the forefront, but the fact is this industry supports our region and our families year-round, especially this past year. Say thanks this year by buying some extra milk, cheese, ice cream, or any of your other favorite dairy products!
Congressman Chris Jacobs, R-Hamburg, represents the 27th Congressional District which includes the GLOW region.