|I did a little bit of poking around Thomas. Gillibrand was a first term Congresswoman in 2006, so there wasn't too much to look through. Interestingly, she proposed a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution (H.J.RES.45) - a measure I quite oppose given what a mess it would make out of our current need for some hard core Keynesian deficit spending to dig our economy out of this mess.
Additionally, she voted against Rep. Udall's proposed farm bill amendment that would take money from cotton subsidies and give it instead to conservation programs. She was a cosponsor for HR.1363, a bill aiming to update the standards of "foods of minimal nutritional value" that are not allowed in school lunches (i.e. keep more junk out of kids' lunches... a good thing).
From Gillibrand's House site:
The very first bill I ever introduced was the American Dairy Farmer Protection Act to help ensure our local family farms can stay in business so our families can have fresh and affordable dairy products and we can preserve the rural character of our community that makes living in upstate New York so great.
This bill wasn't passed but it's crucial that dairy farmers gain a friend in the Senate to replace Hillary Clinton. Senators for Wisconsin and New York are often great on dairy issues because their states have large dairy industries. Hillary did a great job, and I hope her replacement will as well.
The new Farm Bill passed the House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 231-191. Not only did this bill include an extension of the successful MILC safety net program for dairy farmers - something that I fought to have included in the baseline and incorporated into the Farm Bill - but it also included $4.3 billion more for popular conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentive Program, and the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program.
I am proud to have been part of the bipartisan effort to write the 2007 Farm Bill, and I believe that the bill strikes a balance between the needs of farmers throughout the country, while still providing needed reforms of subsidy programs and large increases for dairy and fruit farmers in the Northeast.
It's hard to read much into her comments on the farm bill because it seems that most Congresscritters voted for it and they tend to say similar things about it. But a little more telling are the amendments she supported:
* Buy Local Amendment- Directed the USDA to provide loans to businesses that promote buying and distributing within 400 miles of the farms where the product was produced. This provision will specifically help agricultural businesses in the Northeast because of the large markets in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Promoting local distribution also helps to keep local economies strong and prices low because consumers do not have to pay the high cost of transporting products long distances. Moreover, it helps save energy and reduces pollution by decreasing the truck and train traffic needed to haul products long distances.
* Organics Transition for Small Farms Amendment- Provided $50 million in grants and free technical assistance to farmers that want to transition from traditional farming to organic farming. Many of New York's farmers are operating on the financial edge and can not afford the high investment that is required to transition to organic. This amendment addresses that need and will help keep many of our small farms in business. Further, the organic market has been growing exponentially recently - especially in New York City - and the Upstate economy can benefit immensely from this increased demand.
Gillibrand's site also mentions the following farm bill "highlights" - while it doesn't say Gillibrand supports these things, I assume since she already said she's proud of passing the farm bill, she wouldn't bring up highlights she doesn't like:
- Payment limits on subsidies.
- Expanding the USDA Snack Program and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (programs that give healthy foods to kids)
- Provisions supporting renewable energy, including ethanol and biodiesel
- Enhancements to the Food Stamps program
- Investing in rural communities
- Better coordination of USDA's research agencies
- Protecting forests
- Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling
Here are a few more tidbits about Gillibrand:
From her League of Conservation Voters Eco-nomic Summit page:
"We are blessed with fertile soil to support cellulosic biofuel crops, organic agriculture and the raw materials for value-added products, such as compostable plant-based plastic and plant derived insulation materials. We also have the resources to provide the East Coast with clean, domestically produced energy, such as wind, solar, hydrothermal, geothermal and waste-to-energy," Rep. Gillibrand said in a press release.
"Lastly, our proximity to top-notch engineering schools and high-tech businesses makes us uniquely positioned to transfer our manufacturing know-how into creating the energy-efficient technologies and products needed to address our current energy challenges."
The 20th Congressional District that Gillibrand represents encompasses more than 7,000 square miles of Hudson Valley, Catskill Mountain and Adirondacks terrain, and includes among its businesses about 4,000 family farms.
From Gillibrand's Record Shows She's True to the Blue Dog Creed:
- "Less-than-stellar" gay rights record
- 100% rating from the National Rifle Association
- Supported an Iraq funding bill without a timeline for troop withdrawal (The majority of Dems, including Clinton and Obama, opposed it)
- Only Dem to vote against helping states purchase foreclosed homes to offer them at discounted rates to low income families
- Opposed allowing Bush to do warrantless wiretapping (good!)... but then voted to give immunity to the telecoms who did the warrantless wiretapping.
From Politics of the Plate:
Gillibrand's staff suggests that she will assert herself in areas such as organic marketing, farmers markets, "buy local" networks, and even state and local efforts to keep small farms and rural landscapes from being subdivided and developed. If Gillibrand turns out to be a bridge between farmers and direct markets, her influence could be far greater than expected from a junior senator representing a state that in the past has barely paid attention to farm policy.