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News stories tagged with "congress"

Cows grazing at Bob Zufall's farm in Lisbon, NY. Photo: David Pynchon
Cows grazing at Bob Zufall's farm in Lisbon, NY. Photo: David Pynchon

Small dairy farmers seek more from Farm Bill

Today federal lawmakers convene to begin seeking compromise for a new five year Farm Bill. The $500 billion package sets the nation's agricultural policy.

Its biggest ticket item, though, is food stamps, known as SNAP. The House and Senate versions of the bill remain very far apart on how much to fund the food stamp program.

The bill would replace billions of dollars in subsidies to farmers with a crop insurance program, which could also pay out billions.

Dairy farmers would be eligible for that crop insurance. The bill also would create a supply management program to control the number of cows in the country and prevent an oversupply of milk.
But a group of dairy farmers says those provisions do little to keep small farms from going out of business.  Go to full article
Rep. Bill Owens was a key vote for Obamacare and calls efforts to dismantle the law "irresponsible." NCPR file photo
Rep. Bill Owens was a key vote for Obamacare and calls efforts to dismantle the law "irresponsible." NCPR file photo

Owens a key vote for Obamacare, still supports it

Congressman Bill Owens, the Democrat from Plattsburgh, was elected in a special election in 2009, riding the wave of Democratic momentum sparked by Barack Obama's election a year earlier.

Owens was one of the key votes helping to push the Affordable Care Act through Congress.

And while he's pushed for major changes to the law, Owens says he still thinks "Obamacare" is a good starting place for needed reforms to America's healthcare system.  Go to full article
"Voice of the people," part of motto over entrance to Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/reallyboring/2674764130/">Eric Allix Rogers</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
"Voice of the people," part of motto over entrance to Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo: Eric Allix Rogers, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Listen: Ogdensburg reflects on the shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) People classified as essential government employees will continue to work but much of the federal government is shut down this morning in a budget impasse over the health care overhaul. In New York, the shutdown will idle thousands of workers -- including many at IRS and Army Corps of Engineers offices.

NCPR sent Zach Hirsch to the streets of Ogdensburg yesterday to gauge public opinion there on the impasse and the shutdown.  Go to full article
Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Zack Seward
Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Zack Seward

Cuomo: Washington gridlock won't affect Obamacare in NY

Governor Cuomo says threats in Congress to defund Obamacare won't have any effect on the federal Affordable Health Care Act going forward in New York.

Cuomo says even if Congress is gridlocked over funding for the federal health care act, New York will still be going ahead on October 1st with the required health care exchanges.  Go to full article
A missile interceptor site in Alaska. Photo: U.S. Army. Some rights reserved.
A missile interceptor site in Alaska. Photo: U.S. Army. Some rights reserved.

Ft. Drum shortlisted for missile site that may never be built

The Department of Defense is including Fort Drum near Watertown as one of five sites to be studied for a new East Coast missile defense program. Local officials hailed the decision. But as David Sommerstein reports, the Pentagon itself says it has no money to build the site.  Go to full article
NY Congressman Bill Owens at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Fort Drum's Warrior Transition Battalion Complex in May 2012. Photo: Army Medicine, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
NY Congressman Bill Owens at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Fort Drum's Warrior Transition Battalion Complex in May 2012. Photo: Army Medicine, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

What Owens still needs to know before Syria vote

North Country Congressman Bill Owens says he needs more information before deciding whether to vote for or against military action against Syria.

The Democrat says he believes President Obama has demonstrated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind a deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria last month.

Owens praises President Obama for seeking Congressional approval before authorizing military action against Syria. "There's been a fair amount of criticism against the executive branch over the last, probably, 30 or 40 years," says Owens, "for usurping Congress' prerogative relative to the declaration of war, so I thought this was a good move."

But how Owens will vote is another matter. He's still undecided. And he says he recognizes that Americans are weary of war.  Go to full article
Photo: David Sommerstein
Photo: David Sommerstein

Farmers ratchet up pressure for immigration reform

Prospects for comprehensive immigration reform are growing slim as Congress is running out of working days in 2013.

That's a huge concern for dairy farmers. Several thousand undocumented Latino immigrants are estimated to work on dairy farms in New York and Vermont. Farmers say they can't find local people to milk the cows reliably.  Go to full article
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, in Massena on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. Photo: Natasha Haverty
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, in Massena on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. Photo: Natasha Haverty

Gillibrand defends brownfield cleanup funding

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was travelling across upstate on Monday touting a bill she says will make it easier to redevelop environmentally-contaminated properties known as brownfields. Her effort comes a few days after a House committee voted to cut funding for brownfield cleanup.  Go to full article
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh)
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh)

Owens: rural America losing clout in farm policy

Lawmakers and agricultural leaders are searching for a way forward after the Farm Bill went down in flames in the House last week.

Many Republicans bristled at the nearly $100 billion a year price tag. About 80 percent of that is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP -- better known as Food Stamps. Some Democrats voted no to protest of cuts to that program. In the end, the farm bill went down by a significant margin, even though GOP House Speaker John Boehner voted for it.

It's unclear if the House will take up the Senate's version - which passed earlier this month - or seek to extend the 2008 farm bill for another year.  Go to full article
Juan Carlos (left) lives in a converted farm office in the barn of this dairy farm. He and Freddy want to be able to go home and come back to work on dairy farms here. Photo: David Sommerstein
Juan Carlos (left) lives in a converted farm office in the barn of this dairy farm. He and Freddy want to be able to go home and come back to work on dairy farms here. Photo: David Sommerstein

What undocumented dairy workers think of immigration reform

Dairy farmers - and their workers - have a lot at stake in the immigration debate underway in Washington.

A survey by Cornell University found that 2,600 Spanish-speaking people work on New York dairy farms. Of them, two thirds or more are here illegally. That's in part because there's no visa program for the kind of year-round workers dairy farms need.

The Senate's reform plan offers dairy farms new options for a legal supply of immigrant labor.

Undocumented Latino workers are scattered on bunches of dairy farms in the North Country. David Sommerstein spoke with some of them to see what they think of immigration reform.  Go to full article

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