Rep. Owens introduces legislation to reduce trade barriers for apple exports, increase credit access, promote maple industry
Monday, March 25, 2013 - 5:09 pm

Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to boost New York agriculture.

The bills would reduce trade barriers for apple exports to Canada, increase access to credit for farmers, and promote the New York maple industry.

These three bills were included in the House version of the 2012 Farm Bill, which was approved by the House Agriculture Committee but was blocked from consideration by the full House before it expired at the end of last year.

“New York farmers are helping drive economic development in the region,” Owens said. “Whether we’re talking about dairy farms, apple orchards, maple production or other operations, it’s essential that the ag community has everything it needs to continue making progress across the region.”

Owens’ office provided these summaries of the bills:

Legislation background:

• Apple Bill (H.R. 1298)

According to the New York Apple Association, the elimination of the required inspection would immediately offer a savings to growers of approximately $300 per truckload. Additionally, removing this regulation would allow apple growers to distribute their products on their own schedule without working around costly after-hours inspections procedures, providing them the opportunity to save money and streamline operations. Owens introduced identical legislation in the 112th Congress (H.R. 3914).

The bill would streamline U.S. apple exports to Canada by exempting bulk shipments of apples to Canada from inspection under the Apple Export Act.

• Farm Credit Bill (H.R 1297)

The Agricultural Credit Expansion Act would expand the range of business structures that qualify for loans and loan guarantees through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Two types of business structures increasingly common among family farms do not currently qualify for loans through the FSA. These include when family farms divide into a farm ownership LLC or farm operating LLC to facilitate ownership by multiple family members, and farms operating with an “embedded entity structure,” which are also currently ineligible for an FSA loan. An embedded entity occurs when one entity is owned wholly or partly by another entity. Owens introduced identical legislation in the 112th Congress (H.R. 874).

The bill would give farmers the flexibility to structure their business as they see fit while maintaining their eligibility for the programs that allow them to grow and succeed.

• Maple Bill (H.R. 1272):

Owens also joined Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) in introducing H.R 1272, legislation that would authorize grants under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promote activities related to maple production. This includes maple syrup operations, natural resource sustainability for the maple syrup industry, promotion of maple products and increased access to land for maple-sugaring activities.

Owens represents the North Country’s 21st Congressional District.