Press-Republican

Wednesday

March 27, 2013

Owens pushes legislation

PLATTSBURGH — North Country Congressman Bill Owens is pushing forward three bills that he hopes will help farmers.

Owens (D-Plattsburgh) is calling for legislation to help apple growers ship apples to Canada cheaper, allow farms to get loans easier and boost maple-syrup production and marketing in New York state.

The three bills ideally will be part of the 2013 Farm Bill, which Owens hopes gets approval.

“We need to get this in early and start explaining to the Agriculture Committee staffers why this is important and, hopefully, it will be included in any Farm Bill that comes forward,” Owens said in a recent telephone news conference.

“I think the chances (of approval) are very high if we can get the Farm Bill to the floor.”

Congress failed to approve a new Farm Bill in 2012, but Owens said he is cautiously optimistic that legislation will pass this year.

INSPECTIONS

The three bills he spoke about are designed to help New York farmers.

H.R. 1298 would streamline U.S. apple exports to Canada by exempting bulk shipments from inspection under the Apple Export Act, which cost about $400 per shipment.

“It is an annoyance and an expense, and, most importantly, it is a delay,” he said.

“Just about every orchard has raised this issue.”

Apple shipments are required to be inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture before going into Canada. They are then inspected again in Canada, duplicating the service.

“We’re definitely in favor of the bill,” New York Apple Association President Jim Allen told the Press-Republican. “There have been a lot of efforts, and we have been working hard to reduce shipping and inspection costs.”

He said the Apple Association has been working closely with Owens on the legislation.

“It’s about passing the burden on the receiver rather than on the shipper,” he said. “It will lower the cost of doing (apple) business.”

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