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A sapbucket at Newton's Sugarbush. One of the bills US Rep. Owens is introducing would make it easier for producers to tape trees on some state and conservation lands in the Adirondacks. Photo: Todd Moe
A sapbucket at Newton's Sugarbush. One of the bills US Rep. Owens is introducing would make it easier for producers to tape trees on some state and conservation lands in the Adirondacks. Photo: Todd Moe

Owens gets ahead of curve on farm bill

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Washington failed to pass a Farm Bill last year. Congressman Bill Owens says he's "cautiously optimistic" one will pass this year. But he's not sure exactly what will be in the massive $100 billion a year legislation that funds everything from farm programs to food stamps.

So the North Country Democrat is introducing three bills early that would help New York farmers.

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"So when they start talking about the 2012 farm bill in 2013, that will in fact get some attention paid to these bills and hopefully easy inclusion into any farm bill that gets to the floor this year."

Speaking with reporters by phone Friday, Owens said one bill would make it easier for apple growers to send bulk shipments to Canada for use in apple juice. Another would expand the definition of a farm business that can get loans from the Farm Service Agency.

"The world has changed. We have many family farms that are in the process of being transferred to the next generation, in some cases onto the third generation, and the techniques that used for that all need to be able to secure FSA loans, and this legislation will accomplish that."

A third bill, Owens says, would help maple syrup producers. One way is by making it easier for producers to tap trees on some state and conservation lands in the Adirondacks, "and making sure that people see this as a worthwhile endeavor and one that will boost the local economy and will not do any damage to the trees."

Owens says there would be no cost to any of these bills.

It's still unclear when Congress will take up a new Farm Bill. The last one was allowed to lapse last year when House Republicans and Democrats couldn't agree on funding levels.

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