New York Farm Day delivers buffet of farm stories to Capitol Hill
Sen. Gillibrand at New York Farm Day in 2010. Photo from Gillibrand's website.
How's this for a menu:
Chilled watermelon gazpacho with a Chobani Greek yogurt dollop from the Mohawk Valley; fresh oysters from Long Island; Brooklyn cured chicken apple sausage; spelt bread from Finger Lakes flour; lacto-fermented ginger carrots and ruby sauerkraut from Albany; and all the artesanal cheese you can eat.
Wash it down with Mercer's chocolate cabernet wine ice cream from Boonville.
And for drinks? Wines from everyone corner of New York, a Belgian-style Golden Ale infused with organic Thai basil from Syracuse, or Four Grain Bourbon from the Hudson Valley.
No wonder New York Farm Day in Washington, DC is, by all accounts, one of the hottest tickets on Capitol Hill. Get there quick – it's this evening at 5 in the Russell Senate Office Building's Kennedy Caucus Room. Here's the complete list of producers that will be represented tonight: Farm Day 2013 Exhibitors Final
The event was started in 2002 by then Senator Hillary Clinton. Kirsten Gillibrand took over when she took Clinton's seat in 2009. It's a way to remind Congress that New York isn't just about Wall Street and the Five Boroughs, that agriculture is huge business in New York, worth more than 5 billion dollars every year.
Gillibrand has become a major voice for farmers, food health and safety advocates, as well. She's the first New York Senator to sit on the agriculture committee in more than 40 years, and she's embraced a range of issues as she points out in a press release:
“As a member of the Agriculture Committee, I am focused on improving the health of our economy and the health of our families. From rising childhood obesity and outdated nutritional standards to the economic crisis facing our dairy farmers and specialty crop farmers, agriculture issues in Washington affect families in every corner of New York. Strengthening our agricultural sector and promoting good nutrition for New Yorkers are essential to our long-term health and economic growth.”
Midwestern corn and soybean lobbies rule the roost in American farm policy. Meat producers aren't far behind. And cotton and peanut producers showed recently they still have a lot of clout.
New York is a more diverse kind of agriculture, with its apple, grape and wine, maple syrup, and dairy industries, and small fruit and vegetable growers increasing in number every day. It's important New York has a seat at the policy-making table, especially with fierce Farm Bill negotiations coming up.
It sure doesn't hurt to throw a real good party.
Tags: agriculture, dairy, farming, gillibrand, new york, politics, washington