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Charles Schumer

January 14, 2020 - 11:27am

On Monday, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finally prioritize the health and well-being of Upstate New York veterans and finally end the years-long delay of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) effort to add additional diseases to the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list.

In Western New York, there are approximately more than 32,000 Vietnam-era veterans. Statewide, there are more than 240,000 of them.

2016 National Academies report found suggestive evidence that bladder cancer and hypothyroidism were associated with veterans’ service, as well as clarified that veterans with “Parkinson-like symptoms” (Parkinsonism) should be considered eligible under the presumption that Parkinson's disease and the veterans' service are connected.

Following this report, former VA Secretary David Shulkin announced that he would add these conditions to the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list in the near future, which would allow Vietnam War-era veterans stricken by these illnesses to receive additional health care benefits, disability compensation, and care benefits to surviving spouses and dependent children and parents.

But that announcement never came after OMB blocked the move.

In addition to the failure to include bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism on the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list, the VA has also yet to act on a 2018 National Academies report that found sufficient evidence of association between exposure to herbicides and hypertension.

Even though Schumer secured a provision in the recently passed budget deal requiring the VA to issue a report to Congress in consultation with OMB on the delay in adding these conditions to the presumptive conditions list, he said this is not nearly enough. He urged the agencies to take the necessary steps to ensure that the over 240,000 New York veterans, who risked their lives to defend their country, receive the health care and benefits they need and deserve.

Just last week, Schumer called recently confirmed OIRA Administrator Paul Ray directly and implored him, as the chief overlooking all federal government regulations, to immediately prioritize our veterans’ healthcare, take a personal interest in expanding their health benefits and add these conditions to the Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions List.

“It’s unfathomable that the administration is refusing to do right by our nation’s veterans, including the more than 240,000 New York veterans that bravely served during the Vietnam era, and has unilaterally blocked the VA from expanding healthcare benefits to those exposed to Agent Orange,” Senator Schumer said.

The Right Thing to Do

“After years and years of kicking the can down the road, it is high time for the federal government to accept the substantial proof linking bladder cancer, hypertension, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism to Agent Orange exposure, and add these conditions to the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list.

"It is absolutely incumbent on the administration to do everything within its power to clear a path for the VA, add these conditions to the list of Agent Orange illnesses, and finally allow veterans who are currently suffering access to the healthcare and benefits they rightly deserve; it’s not just the right thing to do, but it’s the very least we owe the brave New Yorkers who served and defended our country.”

In March of last year, Dr. Richard Stone, the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee that the recommended new presumptive conditions would be added within 90 days, which also never happened.

Furthermore, this past October, email communications between the VA and the White House revealed that the delays were at the behest of the OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and White House advisors, who were reportedly concerned about the potential cost of adding diseases to the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list.

Emails explaining the decision to hold off on adding the conditions to the presumptive conditions list can be found here.

Exposure to Herbicide 'Agent Orange' Inflicts 'Presumed Diseases'

Schumer explained that per the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the VA automatically accepts that if a Vietnam Veteran physically served in Vietnam between January 1962 and May 1975, it is probable that the veteran was exposed to an herbicide agent like Agent Orange.

Furthermore, the Act established a list of “presumed” diseases that the VA stipulates are caused by Agent Orange exposure. Therefore, if a veteran served in Vietnam at any time between 1962-1975 and is diagnosed with one or more of the diseases VA recognizes as service connected, the VA will compensate the veteran and his or her family.

However, even though there is scientific evidence linking Parkinsonism, bladder cancer, hypertension and hypothyroidism to Agent Orange exposure, they are not currently on the VA’s list of recognized conditions.

Schumer said that is absolutely crucial that the roughly 240,000 Vietnam-era veterans in New York State receive the healthcare benefits they need and deserve.

“Adding these diseases to the Agent Orange Presumption List would only benefit the brave service members who were exposed to this chemical during the Vietnam War and are suffering from its harmful effects,” Veterans Outreach Center Executive Director and Army veteran Laura Stradley said. “Veterans Outreach Center stands with our veterans, and we support the laws that allow our brothers and sisters to access much-needed healthcare, services and support.”

January 10, 2020 - 1:02pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged leading technology companies that produce GPS applications to add data on all 5,358 New York State at-grade rail crossings into their programs without further delay. 

Writing to the chief  executive officers of the 10 most common GPS manufacturers that still have yet to implement the changes, Schumer explained that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in 2016, recommended that these corporations, which include Google, INRIX, HERE Technologies, MapQuest, Omnitracs, OpenStreetMap US, Sensys Networks, Streetlight Data, Teletrac Navman, and United Parcel Service of America, include this information on at-grade rail crossings in their navigation systems.

The push for the added data follows a tragic accident in California that took the life of an engineer and injured 32 others. Since then, in New York State alone, between 2017 and 2019, there were 12 deaths and 44 injuries from at-grade rail crossing crashes.

Schumer explained that without this critical information, everyone who travels New York State, via train or automobile, is put squarely in harm’s way, and argued that given the near-universal commuter dependence on navigation applications, the GPS companies must incorporate this critical geographic data into their apps with all due haste.

“In today’s world, the use of portable GPS is a daily necessity for Upstate New York drivers to travel to and from work, to see families, to recreate, to shop and to drive almost anywhere," Senator Schumer said. "However, without data on perilous at-grade rail crossings included in these GPS applications and maps, countless drivers are left to venture blind into perilous—and potentially fatal—situations.

"That’s why today I’m urging the leading providers of portable navigation systems, from MapQuest to Google, to immediately add all 5,358 New York at-grade rail crossings—both public and private—to their systems. Even one preventable death from such an accident is one too many, and with 12 in New York alone since the NTSB first issued this vital recommendation, there is no more time to waste.”

Schumer explained that in 2015, the NTSB investigated a fatal crash in Oxnard, Calif., in which a train collided with a truck that had become lodged on the train track. The NTSB concluded that the driver, who was relying on a GPS application, misinterpreted the available audio and visual cues, causing him to turn onto the railroad tracks.

Schumer said that at the time of the crash, lights and gates at the crossing were not active because no train was approaching at the time.

Given those facts and details, NTSB recommended that navigation applications include grade crossing-related geographic data “to provide road users with additional safety cues and to reduce the likelihood of crashes at or near public or private grade crossings.”

Since the NTSB recommendation was issued, Schumer highlighted, there were 273 at-grade railroad crashes across the United States in 2017, the last year that data is available. Furthermore, in just New York State between 2017 and 2019, there were 12 deaths and 44 injuries from at-grade rail crossings.

Schumer argued that as New York State and the entire country make every effort to move towards zero traffic fatalities, even one preventable death is unacceptable, let alone 12. Schumer said without these vital safety improvements, commuters, train operators and pedestrians will continue to be at risk as they travel on roads that intersect public and private grade crossings.

In conclusion, Schumer urged the GPS companies to add all 5,358 at-grade crossings into maps and programs at once, to improve safety on New York State roads and highways and, inevitably, save precious lives.

January 6, 2020 - 1:49pm

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today released the following statement, following his meeting with Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB) Rob Manfred:

“Last month, Commissioner Manfred and I had a productive meeting to discuss Minor League Baseball’s presence in New York. Throughout the state, from Binghamton to Auburn, to Batavia, Staten Island and beyond baseball is woven into the very fabric of our communities, with fan bases that glean a sense of pride and joy from their success.

"That is why I will continue to fight to ensure that these teams remain in those communities. It is critical going forward that all of the parties — from team owners, to local leaders, to MLB and MiLB representatives—step up to the plate and negotiate in good faith,” Senator Schumer said.In fact, I have urged MLB officials to come to these communities and hear directly from local leaders, and I expect that will occur early this year.” 

 “We appreciate Senator Schumer’s efforts to bring the parties together to discuss the issues that currently exist in Minor League Baseball,” said Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred Jr. “We are at the very early stage of negotiations and are hopeful that Minor League Baseball will come to the negotiating room and engage in good faith negotiations in an effort to make a deal.”

In November, news reports revealed that MLB proposed plans to take 42 teams that are currently affiliated with Major League teams and reassign them to compete in a newly-formed league, called the Dream League. Reports indicate that MLB’s proposal would mean the reassignment of four teams across New York State: the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Batavia Muckdogs, Auburn Doubledays and Staten Island Yankees — and an alteration of the business plans of the Tri-City Valleycats, Hudson Valley Renegades and Brooklyn Cyclones.

In November, after learning of the proposal, Schumer wrote to MLB to express his serious concerns, request the league sit down with local stakeholders to discuss the plan and search for constructive solutions that would maintain minor league baseball’s strong presence in Upstate New York.

In the time since, MLB met with representatives of MiLB and team owners to work through and negotiate potential plans in further detail. Schumer is now urging those conversations to continue and for all of the parties to negotiate in good faith to figure out a way to preserve baseball throughout Upstate New York.

January 3, 2020 - 2:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, Chris Jacobs, Rob Ortt, news, Charles Schumer.

Statement from State Sen. Rob Ortt, candidate for NY-27:

“Soleimani and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force has long been a terrorist organization. They are directly responsible for hundreds of U.S. servicemember deaths in Iraq. Iran’s goal has always been to destabilize Iraq and exert its influence in the Middle East. This strike eliminates one of the masterminds of those efforts.”

Statement from State Sen. Chris Jacobs, candidate for NY-27:

“I applaud President Trump for taking decisive action yesterday to neutralize a long-standing terrorist threat - Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force. Soleimani was responsible for killing hundreds of American Soldiers and injuring countless more. The organization which he headed up (Quds Force) has been designated as a terror group since 2007 and this past spring Sec. Pompeo designated him a terrorist. The airstrike which killed him is another example of President Trump’s strong leadership in confronting Iran’s continued perpetration of state-sponsored terrorism and President Trump continues to stand for freedom and justice on the global stage.”

Statement from Sen. Chuck Schumer:

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the airstrike in Iraq against Major General Qasem Soleimani. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

Last night, the United States conducted a military operation designed to kill Major General Qasem Soleimani, a notorious terrorist. No one should shed a tear over his death.

The operation against Soleimani in Iraq was conducted, however, without specific authorization and any advance notification or consultation with Congress. I am a member of the Gang of Eight, which is typically briefed in advance of operations of this level of significance. We were not.

The lack of advanced consultation and transparency with Congress was put in the Constitution, or rather the need for advanced consultation and transparency with Congress, was put in the Constitution for a reason: because the lack of advanced consultation and transparency with Congress can lead to hasty and ill-considered decisions. When the security of the nation is at stake, decisions must not be made in a vacuum. The framers of the Constitution gave war powers to the legislature and made the executive the commander-in-chief for the precise reason of forcing the two branches of government to consult with one another when it came to matters of war and of peace.

It is paramount for administrations to get an outside view to prevent groupthink and rash action—to be asked probing questions, not from your inner and often insulated circle but from others, particularly Congress, which forces an administration, before it acts, to answer very serious questions.

The administration did not consult in this case, and I fear that those very serious questions have not been answered and may not be fully considered.

Among those questions:

  • What was the legal basis for conducting this operation? And how far does that legal basis extend?
  • Iran has many dangerous surrogates in the region and a whole range of possible responses. Which response do we expect? Which are most likely?
  • Do we have plans to counter all of the possible responses? How effective will our counters be?
  • What does this action mean for the long-term stability of Iraq and the trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives sacrificed there?
  • How does the administration plan to manage an escalation of hostilities? And how does the administration plan to avoid a larger and potentially endless conflagration in the Middle East?

These are questions that must be answered.

It is my view that the president does not have the authority for a war with Iran. If he plans a large increase in troops and potential hostility over a longer time, the administration will require Congressional approval and the approval of the American people.

The president’s decision may add to an already dangerous and difficult situation in the Middle East.

The risk of a much longer military engagement in the Middle East is acute and immediate. This action may well have brought our nation closer to another endless war, exactly the kind of endless war the president promised he would not drag us into.

As our citizens and those of our allies evacuate Iraq and troops prepare for retaliatory action, Congress needs answers, to these questions and others, from the administration immediately. 

And the American people need answers as well.

December 8, 2019 - 12:38pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today (Dec. 8) announced that, following his intense advocacy, Congressional lawmakers are nearing an agreement that would offer 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all federal employees to care for a newborn or adopted child, including the 114,386 workers* throughout New York State, in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Under current federal law, federal civilian workers are only eligible for three months of unpaid leave, often leaving them in financially precarious or unsustainable positions.

When passed, the bill would secure paid parental leave for all federal employees for the first time, bringing the federal government’s parental leave laws into the 21st century and on par with the vast majority of developed nations around the world, allowing new parents to give the appropriate support, love and care to their newborn children.

“The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not have paid parental leave," Senator Schumer said. "It’s high time that we caught up. And as the nation’s largest employer, the federal government offering 12 weeks to its millions of employees across our nation and here in New York, is a step in the right direction.

"From one end of the state to the other, no matter if you are a TSA or customs agent at JFK Airport, working on Fort Drum Army Base, or at Buffalo (or Batavia) VA Medical Center, you deserve time to take care of and support your new loved one and family, without worrying how it might impact your ability to put food on the table.

“That’s why during negotiations for this year’s NDAA, I made securing paid parental leave my very top priority, and fought with everything I had to secure it. I’m proud that my efforts, and the efforts of thousands of others, have helped make paid leave for federal employees a reality. I will not stop fighting until this benefit is provided to all workers nationwide.”

*Below is the breakdown of New York federal employees by region, according to New York Department of Labor:

  • NYC: 48,193
  • Long Island: 15,679
  • Hudson Valley: 11,177
  • Western New York: 10,002
  • Capital Region: 7,182
  • Central New York: 5,239
  • Finger Lakes: 5,161
  • North Country: 4,978
  • Mohawk Valley: 2,828
December 3, 2019 - 4:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in Charles Schumer, agriculture, business, industrial hemp.

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced today that following his major push, the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), in tandem with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, have confirmed the legality of banks and other financial institutions extending services and products to industrial hemp-oriented businesses and farms.

Schumer explained that without access to traditional financial services, local farmers and the industrial hemp industry across Upstate New York had been unfairly restricted on capital investment, preventing further economic growth and the creation of good-paying jobs, and choking off valuable income for farmers.

Lack of Awareness By Lending Institutions

Schumer said the lack of awareness by lending institutions about the legality of industrial hemp had created an unwarranted murkiness around the legality of financing hemp-oriented businesses — and that new guidance was urgently needed.

With that now cleared up, the industrial hemp industry can continue to seed and grow across Upstate New York.

“This is a strong step in the right direction to boost the growth of the industrial hemp industry, and I am glad federal regulators, including the Fed, heeded my call to provide clarity to banks that industrial hemp is fully legal and their member banks are free to lend to farmers and producers," Schumer said.

"Now that the feds have issued to lenders updated guidance clarifying hemp’s legality as a crop, the industry will really start to take root and grow. I fought so hard to strip the burdensome and outdated federal regulations from industrial hemp because of all the good it can do for our farmers, our economy and our consumers. Today’s updated financial guidance related to industrial hemp means that we’re one big step closer to the complete emergence of a job-creating, economy-boosting industry across New York State.”

No More 'Suspicious Activity Reports' for Industrial Hemp-oriented Businesses

Specifically, the Fed, FDIC, FinCEN and OCC announced that under the Bank Secrecy Act, banks will no longer have to file Suspicious Activity Reports for industrial hemp-oriented businesses seeking to attain loans or other services. Schumer explained that this will significantly increase the likelihood that these businesses receive financial services, and help the industry continue growing and creating good-paying jobs for New Yorkers.

Schumer explained that since the 2018 Farm Bill removed the federal regulatory shackles from industrial hemp production, manufacturing, and selling, New York’s industrial hemp industry has started to grow significantly, with new farms and businesses emerging and existing ones expanding operations. This has brought considerably more good-paying jobs and revenue to Upstate New York, making industrial hemp a critical new part of the state’s agricultural future.

That being said, as industrial hemp farmers and businesses are exploring the full benefits of the 2018 Farm Bill, they have experienced serious difficulty accessing financial products with regulatory uncertainty at financial institutions. While some companies have agreed to offer financial services to the growing hemp industry, many have not due to confusion over the crop’s legal status.

The Schumer-backed Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). It passed and was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.

This legislation:

  • Removes industrial hemp from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act;
  • Empowers states to be the principal regulators of hemp;
  • Allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); 
  • And makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.

Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be used for food, oil, and cosmetic products.

The Roadblock of a Spec of THC Lifted

Hemp contains a very small amount, typically between 0.2 and 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and while from the same species of plant as marijuana, it has varied widely in use. However, due to the existence of THC in hemp, Schumer explained, both plants were considered “controlled substances” under federal law, meaning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was the primary regulator for hemp production.

Schumer argued that this narrow view has undermined the crop’s agricultural and economic potential.

With the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passed by Congress and signed into law last year, this unnecessary roadblock has been lifted, and industrial hemp’s significant potential to become a cash crop in Upstate New York will be unleashed.

November 15, 2019 - 12:25pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today (Nov. 15) released a report detailing how the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Facilitation Program (MFP) has treated Upstate farmers unfairly—and launched a new effort to restore parity to the system.

The MFP is designed to reimburse the farms that have been damaged by the turbulent trade climate across the globe, and has distributed $25 billion in mitigation payments to help farmers recover in recent months.

However, Schumer explained, this funding was distributed unevenly, sending 95 percent of the top payment rates to Southern farmers, who have been harmed less than other regions, and helping farms owned by billionaires and foreign-owned companies.

To address this disparity that is negatively impacting Upstate farmers, who are in dire need of assistance, Schumer urged USDA to improve the MFP to better support small New York farmers.

“This report shows that as Upstate farmers are grappling with extreme uncertainty caused by the chaotic global trade climate, USDA is using a flawed formula that helps big, wealthy farms and billion-dollar foreign-owned companies, while our small and family farms in New York have been left in the dust,” Senator Schumer said.

“The USDA must stop picking winners and losers in such an unbalanced way, and instead ensure all of America’s and Upstate New York’s farmers get the help they need and deserve—not just a lucky few.”

Farmers across New York State are being treated unfairly in many ways, including:

  • Farmers in New York are receiving $41.10 less per acre than farmers in Georgia and other Southern states;
  • Even within New York the difference in payments from county to county can be significant and cause similar farms to get vastly different payments. For example, Orleans County has a payment rate of $48 per acre, yet Warren County has a rate of $15 per acre. For an average-sized farm this is a difference in payments of $9,936 and $3,105 for Upstate farms that likely have very similar growing conditions;
  • At a county level, the average payment rate in New York was $28 per acres. However, many counties in Southern states received the maximum payment rate of $150 per acre. With more than 33,400 farms across New York, averaging about 207 acres each, NY farmers would receive a payment of about $5,796, while the same sized farm in one of these other Southern counties would receive $31,050(delta: $25,254).
  • USDA currently ignores any trade damage not related to its own chaotic trade actions and largely shuts out Upstate New York’s specialty crops from direct assistance.
  • Instead of taking steps to support small and beginning operations, USDA doubled the payment limit for row crop payments from $125,000 to $250,000. This change will concentrate payments even more in the large complicated farming conglomerates.
  • Rather than using current production numbers, USDA based payments to dairy farmers on data that are 6 to 8 years old.

In the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill, Congress provided balanced support to help farmers manage market instability across the country and provided permanent support for USDA export market development programs.

Schumer raised concerns that the administration’s policy upends this careful compromise, replaces income from markets with government payments, creates vast inequities, and does not address the actual trade damage to farmers who have been hit the hardest.

NY County

USDA MFP Payment rate

Warren

$15

Allegany

$17

Delaware

$18

Washington

$18

Essex

$19

Lewis

$19

Sullivan

$19

Wyoming

$19

Herkimer

$20

Steuben

$20

Westchester

$20

Chenango

$21

Cortland

$21

Franklin

$21

Madison

$21

Schuyler

$21

Tioga

$21

Clinton

$22

Jefferson

$22

Schenectady

$22

Albany

$23

Ulster

$23

Albany

$23

Saratoga

$24

Otsego

$25

Broome

$26

Cattaraugus

$26

Schoharie

$26

St. Lawrence

$26

Tompkins

$26

Broome

$26

Cattaraugus

$26

Chemung

$27

Erie

$27

Chautauqua

$28

Dutchess

$28

Onondaga

$28

Rensselaer

$28

Fulton

$30

Montgomery

$31

Genesee

$32

Oneida

$32

Yates

$35

Columbia

$36

Cayuga

$38

Livingston

$38

Ontario

$38

Cayuga

$38

Niagara

$39

Oswego

$39

Orange-Rockland

$43

Monroe

$45

Greene

$47

Orleans

$48

Seneca

$48

Wayne

$52

    December 12, 2018 - 11:55am
    posted by Howard B. Owens in farm bill, agriculture, business, Charles Schumer.

    Press release:

    U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today revealed the details of the newly released 2018 Farm Bill, Conference Report, which passed the Senate by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 87-13 yesterday.

    Schumer said the bill will benefit key Upstate New York agricultural communities. Senator Schumer detailed several major areas in which the Farm Bill will be a major boost to Upstate farmers, growers, food-needy families and producers, as well as other New York businesses.

    Schumer said the newly announced bill reflects a variety of different priorities he pushed for on behalf of the New York agricultural community. Schumer explained the bill will give New York's agricultural industry a shot in the arm.

    Schumer lauded the months-long bipartisan process to craft the Farm Bill and congratulated committee leaders Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Republican Chair Pat Roberts, as well as Committee Member Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for their assiduous work.

    “The Farm Bill is a major victory for Upstate New York and its large and vital agricultural community,” Schumer said. “Ensuring the passage of a Farm Bill is vital for New York’s agricultural community and our economy as a whole.

    "The bill makes further investments to help Upstate New York dairy farmers, boosts the rapidly growing organic sector, builds on New York’s burgeoning industrial hemp industry, expands rural broadband, strengthens crop insurance, and protects our most vulnerable hungry families and seniors from harmful cuts.

    "While the bill does not contain everything that we fought for, it is ultimately a win for the farmers that are the heart of Upstate New York."

    Dairy

    The newly introduced Farm Bill includes major victories for Upstate New York dairy farmers and producers. The newly introduced Farm Bill invests in programs to help give much-needed relief to Upstate New York dairy farmers and producers. The Farm Bill includes a variety of helpful reforms including, an investment of $100 million to help improve the Federal dairy insurance program to help make the program work better for small to medium dairy farms, a provision waiving administrative fees for beginning, veteran, and underserved farmers, a provision continuing the vital changes made in the Omnibus Budget bill that allowed for the creation of new dairy insurance tools in the future, and a program that would provide funding to dairy organizations who chose to donate their products.

    Rural Communities

    This Farm Bill focused on investing in our small rural communities across New York State and nationwide. One example of this was the establishment of a new grant program that will target high-need, rural areas seeking to undertake broadband internet projects. These projects will help connect our most in need areas and upgrade to more modern internet access. Additionally, the Farm Bill made important investments in programs that help grow our rural small businesses, as well as those that help to fight the opioid crisis.

    Agriculture and Farming/Growing

    Organic Farming

    The newly introduced Farm Bill establishes mandatory funding of $24 million over FY19-23 for the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP), which helps support farmers who want to become involved in the organic market by providing reimbursements of some of their annual fees for United States Department of Agriculture organic certification -- it includes an increase in critical funding for organic research through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative from its current level of $20 million to $50 million by FY2023. Finally, the Farm Bill increases the authorization for the National Organic Program (NOP). Schumer has been a major supporter of this program that helps USDA protect farmers from having to unfairly compete against fraudulent organic imports while also helping to maintain consumer confidence in the USDA certified organic brand. This bill increases the authorization for the NOP to $16.5 million in FY2019, $18 million in FY2020, $20 million in FY2021, $22 million in FY2022, and $24 million in FY2023.

    Specialty Crops

    The Farm Bill contained a number of provisions beneficial to Upstate farmers, but especially to farmers of specialty crops. New York produces a wide range of specialty crops (fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, herbs and spices, maple syrup, Christmas trees, etc.) that rank highly nationwide in terms of both production and economic value. The Senate Farm Bill, according to Schumer, provides vital funding to key programs that aid specialty crop producers, such as the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative. These programs help provide support to New York's specialty crop industry in the form of robust research funding.

    Maple

    The Farm Bill reauthorizes Schumer’s original legislation known as The Maple Tap Act, which Schumer said is now officially called the Acer Access and Development Program. This provision will continue to help maple producers in the Hudson Valley and across Upstate New York boost their production and become more competitive with places like Canada, which produces 85 percent of the world's maple product. Schumer said, specifically, this provision provides an authorization for USDA grants to states that create programs to encourage individual and private landowners to open up their trees to maple tapping. Schumer's legislation would also provide grants to states to support market promotion, maple industry research and development, and education through leading institutions, like Cornell.

    Hemp

    Another important provision Schumer fought to include was the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. Schumer, a cosponsor of the Hemp Farming Act, said the provision could help unlock industrial hemp’s full potential as an agricultural commodity across Upstate New York by removing hemp from a federal list of controlled substances. Schumer said the bill will do four important things for farmers nationwide including in New York State:

    • Remove industrial hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act;
    • Empower states to be the principal regulators of hemp;
    • Allow hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture;
    • Make hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance;
    • Most importantly, Schumer said this important provision would allow for New York’s agricultural community to grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity if they so choose, allowing New York growers more flexibility.

    Barley

    The Farm Bill requires the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service to record all barley production in New York State. By ensuring that this critical information is accessible for barley farmers, they will be able to better determine any future plantings. Additionally, the provision would give crop insurance providers access to this essential information, which could spur them to expand coverage and potentially even offer a malting barley endorsement.

    Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP)

    Schumer explained that he fought tooth and nail to protect SNAP from any cuts in the Farm Bill. Schumer said that he also was able to push for other provisions to help those most in need. First, the Farm Bill creates opportunities for job training for some of the most in-need New Yorkers who participate in SNAP, to help them find and keep good-paying jobs. Second, the Farm Bill simplifies paperwork for New York seniors who participate in SNAP to ensure they get the nutritional assistance they need and deserve as quickly as possible. And lastly, the Farm Bill creates the “Farm to Food Bank” initiative, which will help provide New Yorkers using SNAP with locally grown, New York produce and other food.

    Conservation

    Schumer said the Farm Bill funds key environmental programs that are essential to farmers, like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). These programs are voluntary conservation initiatives that farmers can utilize through the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to help them continue to be good stewards of the land.

    PAWS

    The newly introduced Farm Bill also includes a vital provision called the Pet and Women Safety Act (PAWS) Act, which Schumer is currently a cosponsor of. This bill would help give victims of domestic violence and their pets greater access to safe sheltering options, as well as provide stronger legal protections to pets. According to the Humane Society, up to one-third of domestic violence victims delay leaving a dangerous situation, because they fear for the safety of their pets, and up to one-fourth return to an abuser due to concern for their pets.

    Local food programs

    The Farm Bill creates a new Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) by combining the Value Added Producer Grants Program and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program. The value-added producers grant program helps dairy farmers that start producing artisanal cheese or apple growers that enter the hard cider industry. The grants administered through the new LAMP program will continue to support strengthening our local food systems from rural farmers to urban consumers.

    Water, Waste Disposal, and Wastewater Facility grants

    The Farm Bill provides funding to support and strengthen rural water infrastructure. Funding to Rural Development programs like the Water, Waste Disposal, and Wastewater Facility Grant program will help families and businesses across Upstate New York and nationwide continue to have access to clean drinking water.

    Community facility investments

    The Farm Bill supports Community Facility investments to continue to help provide resources to construct hospitals, improve schools, while also improving fire and police stations across small towns in New York State.

    October 21, 2018 - 7:21pm
    posted by Howard B. Owens in Charles Schumer, UMMC, news, batavia.

    schummerummc2018.jpg

    Sen. Charles Schumer made his annual visit to Genesee County (he visits every county in the state at least once a year) to pledge to the local medical community and the citizens who depend on that medical community that he will do everything he can to restore funding for the 340B Drug Pricing Program.

    The 340B program was enacted in 1992 provides qualifying hospitals -- hospitals that tend to serve more low-income patients -- with deep discounts on medications used in the treatment of cancer. The intent of the program is to allow hospitals to treat more patients and provide comprehensive services.

    Dan Ireland, CEO of United Memorial Medical Center, said the program has allowed the hospital to reinvest $2 million annually into better patient care.

    "To some folks, this is about money but really what it is about is the investment that's made for people, for health care, for our friends and our neighbors and our loved ones," Ireland said. "That $2 million gets reinvested in programs to help support cancer care as we talked about and the emergency room and outpatient clinics so folks can access care close to their homes in a timely manner."

    He added, "This will change the lives of people if these cuts continue. It will change the lives here at the hospital will change lives throughout our communities. So I'm grateful for the support."

    The cuts to WNY regional hospitals add up to millions of dollars a year, Schumer said, and he considers it critical that the funding is restored.

    "I always defend our rural hospitals because people in rural areas should get the same health care as people in urban areas," Schumer said. "First, the people have to come greater distances. But second, it's not the density of population. So when you have to use one of these expensive machines, a CAT scan or an MRI, it is very expensive. If you're in Rochester or New York City, that machine can be used almost 24/7, so it can pay itself back. But here, not so, but you still want the person here to have the same CAT scan or an MRI or whatever so they get the same health care."

    Not all funding was cut to UMMC. So far, it's been about $600,000 a year.

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services enacted the cuts, which makes the cuts merely a matter of policy, so Schumer said he has tools to use to try and restore the funds. As minority leader, he can work to restore the funding through the budgetary process or he can pursue legislation to restore the funding.

    He said his effort would receive bipartisan support because there are both Republicans and Democrats who represent rural areas and about 1,000 rural hospitals are lobbying for the funding.

    "We are going to do everything we can to get 340B back to the way it was and get Noyes (a hospital in Livingston County) and UMMC and all of our hospitals the help they need."

    Critics of the program -- which include pharmaceutical companies -- say that too many hospitals abused the program. Those hospitals, they say, did not use the cost savings to improve patient care. Instead, they say, they padded their bottom line.

    Private oncologists have also been critical of the program, saying that it gives hospitals a subsidized, unfair price advantage in providing treatment.

    "I'm trying to get lower drug prices across the board so we would try to help them as well, but because you're not getting it doesn't mean you go after somebody who is getting it," Schumer said in response to a question about the oncologists' complaint. "These are hospitals that need the help."

    Before discussing the 340B program at UMMC, Schumer reflected on the upcoming World Series and explained why he hates the Red Sox. Listen (mp3).

    schummerummc2018-2.jpg

    Sen. Schumer and Dan Ireland.

    schummerummc201822.jpg

    July 10, 2018 - 5:38pm
    posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, news, business, Farming, ROPS, Charles Schumer.

    Press release:

    U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced that following his push, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has agreed to administratively provide funding for the work being done nationwide, including the Northeast Center For Occupational Safety And Health For Agriculture, Forestry And Fishing (NEC), on the national tractor rollover protection systems (ROPS) rebate program through the end of FY2019.

    Schumer, who has long advocated for the ROPS program, said today’s announcement is welcomed news for thousands of Upstate farmers. Schumer lauded the CDC for funding the ROPS program and said it is a vital program, considering that farm-related deaths are up to 800 percent higher than many other major industries, with tractor overturns being their most frequent cause at a rate of 96 cases per year.

    “ROPS is a critical and cost-effective rebate program that provides important information to farmers across the country on how to find and install the right rollover bar for their machinery. The CDC’s decision to provide funding administratively for this lifesaving program is a great first step, but I won’t rest until I know for certain it will still be fully operational for years to come.

    "I vow to continue working with the CDC to ensure our agricultural community has every available resource to succeed,” Senator Schumer said.

    The ROPS program facilitates rebates in states with state-based funding to farmers to cover approximately 70 percent of the cost for a farmer to install a ROPS roll bar retrofit kit on their tractor. According to Schumer, the original grant funding for this important program was slated to expire in September, but following a major push by Schumer, the program will be funded for at least another year.

    “Keeping family farmers and farm workers who operate dangerous machinery safe must be a major priority, especially in Upstate New York, where the agricultural community is our lifeblood. That is why I laud the CDC for restoring funding for this critical farm safety program,” Schumer added. “The work done by organizations like the NEC is exactly the type of work the federal government should be investing in: it’s cost-effective, informed by real industry experts, and helps save farmers’ lives every day.

    "Funding this program means that Upstate New York Farmers will have continued access to valuable critical resources including a 1-800 safety hotline number and on the ground experts in rural communities to help farmers access the ROPS Rebate Program, which helps them correctly install rollover bars on their tractors just in case the tractor flips over.

    "I’m proud of the role I played in helping secure funding for the ROPS program to plow forward and will be doing everything possible to make sure this program, which puts farmers first, is protected for years to come.”

    According to NEC Director, Julie Sorensen, Ph.D., the program has also been considerably cost effective with recent economic assessments pointing to a $5 million savings in NY State due to deaths and injuries averted through the program.

    “Before this program, many NY farmers had neither the money nor the time to invest in these crucial lifesaving devices and unfortunately their only viable solution prior to the ROPS program was to routinely put their lives at risk hoping this wouldn’t be their day to die on the job," Sorensen said. "Senator Schumer’s advocacy sends a clear message to farmers -- you are important and valued members of the New York community.”

    Schumer said the agricultural community is the lifeblood of Upstate New York, and that protecting the well-being and safety of farmers must be a major priority. In response to the hazardous environment of working on a farm, the Northeast Center For Occupational Safety And Health For Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing launched an effort to create the life-saving ROPS Rebate Program, which covers approximately 70 percent of the cost for a farmer to install a ROPS rollbar kit on their tractor.

    In most cases, this means farmers only pay $500 or less for this life-saving equipment that can otherwise cost up to $1,200. NEC also provides information to farmers throughout the country on how to find and install the right rollover bar. Since its inception in 2006, the NEC reports that more than 2,150 tractors have been retrofitted with protective structures in seven states, with more than 1,500 of those retrofits occurring in New York State alone.

    Farmers throughout the country benefit from the hotline and administrative support that is provided through CDC funding. Furthermore, Schumer said, participants in New York reported 221 close calls and 19 serious incidents in which death or injury was likely without the protective ROPS structures.

    Schumer said now that the CDC has agreed to administratively fund the program, critical outreach and infrastructure surrounding the ROPS program can continue and grow. Schumer lauded the CDC and vowed to do everything possible to ensure that the CDC administratively funds the program now and in the future so that the inroads the ROPS program has made can continue beyond 2020.

    March 22, 2018 - 4:03pm
    posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, Charles Schumer, kristen gillibrand, news.

    Press release:

    Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today voted for legislation that funds all federal government discretionary programs for the 2018 fiscal year. The legislation includes providing the nation’s troops their biggest pay raise in eight years as a part of the biggest increase in defense spending in the past 15 years.

    “This bill makes historic investments in the brave men and women who protect our nation by correcting the mistakes of the Obama administration by providing the military with the resources they need,” Collins said.“Hardworking Americans can be assured that Congress is spending taxpayer dollars wisely to make sure our children can feel safe in their schools, our towns and cities have sound infrastructure, and we are closing gaps in security at our borders.”  

    The legislation includes funding for President Trump’s opioid campaign to combat drug abuse and the Fix NCIS bill to close loopholes in background checks for gun purchases. A total of $1.6 billion was allocated to begin building a wall along the southern border over the next six months.

    The funding package includes a provision echoing Collins’ legislation to create a federal database of broadband infrastructure that would make it easier for carriers to build out in rural areas.

    Congressman Collins has been an advocate for the University of Rochester’s Laboratory of Laser Energetics, which was given $75 million in the funding package to continue its groundbreaking research. The legislation also extends the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through September 2018, while keeping in place pilot training requirements enacted after the 2009 Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash in Clarence.

    Additionally, this bill gives the Trump administration the ability to increase the number of H-2B visas available for temporary farm workers based on the needs of the nation. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) received full funding to protect the lakes from environmental threats.

    Collins added: “While this legislation is good for Western New York, it also sets the United States on a path toward a safer, stronger America. Key priorities of Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration are represented in this package and I applaud its passage as we work to get America back on track.”

    The legislation adheres to the previously enacted budget “caps” agreement and contains the full legislation and funding for all of the 12 annual Appropriations bills. For more information on the TARGET Act [Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018], click here.

    Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand also put out a joint statement in support of the budget bill:

    U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced major victories that will greatly help Upstate New York in the bipartisan federal funding bill. The senators said these victories will boost the economy and support vital programs, including funding for the opioid prevention, Great Lake Restoration Initiative (GLRI), funding HOME/CDBG Program, critical railroad safety programs, support for education and higher-education and much more. Schumer and Gillibrand provided statements for several major areas in which the budget will be a major boost for Upstate New Yorkers. 
      
    The bill includes the following victories for Upstate New York: 

    Opioid & Prescription Drug Prevention & Treatment Programs

    “For too long, heroin and opioid use, fatal overdoses, and drug-related crimes have been on the rise, plaguing Upstate New York communities,” said Senator Schumer. “New York deserves every federal resource possible to combat the growing scourge of opioid drug abuse and trafficking – and to increase treatment and prevention. That is why I went to bat for New York and pushed my colleagues to include this vital funding to combat the opioid epidemic in the final federal funding bill. The federal government must continue to invest in new and innovative ways to combat heroin and opioid use and tackle this challenge head-on.”

    “Too many lives have been destroyed, too many families have been torn apart, and too many communities all over New York are suffering because of the opioid epidemic,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This is a public health crisis, and our communities need more funding and resources to combat and help address substance abuse. I’m pleased to see that following our push, the omnibus bill includes a strong investment for states and community organizations across New York to expand prevention, treatment and monitoring programs.”

    Specifically, the agreement provides a $3.3 billion increase over last year’s funding levels for efforts throughout government departments and agencies to combat the opioids and mental health crises, including more than $2.8 billion in increases for treatment, prevention, and research for programs within the Department of Health and Human Services. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will get a $1.4 billion increase over last year; SAMHSA leads our nation’s treatment efforts to address the opioid and heroin crisis gripping communities throughout New York and the rest of the nation. In each of the last two fiscal years, New York received more than $111 million from SAMHSA block grants.

    Additionally, the agreement funds nearly a $2 billion increase over last year’s levels for programs beyond SAMHSA in efforts through several departments and agencies specifically targeted to attack the opioid/heroin crisis.

    ·         $300 million more for Department of Justice initiatives including interdiction, enforcement, drug and mental health courts, and treatment programs;

    ·         $350 million more for the Centers for Disease Control for preventing prescription drug overdoses;

    ·         $500 million more in NIH funding for targeted research on opioid addiction within the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA);

    ·         $415 million more to the Health Resources & Services Administration, which promotes health care in underserved communities and oversees Community Health Centers. There are 65 CHCs in New York, serving nearly 2 million patients in 2015 and employing more than 15,000 New Yorkers; and

    ·         $61 million more to the Department of Veterans Affairs for additional funding for treatment and prevention ($434.6 million total).

    More after the jump:

     

    October 17, 2017 - 11:15am
    posted by Howard B. Owens in Charles Schumer, chris collins, NY-27, news.

    Sen. Charles Schumer is using the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to draw attention to the potential impact of the GOP-proposed tax plan would have on WNY, including in the congressional district of Rep. Chris Collins.

    Schumer said that in the NY-27, 29 percent of taxpayers take a deduction for paying state and local taxes for an average deduction of $12,125.

    The GOP plan calls for the elimination of the deduction. 

    “Eliminating the state and local deduction, while slashing taxes for the wealthy and huge corporations, will hurt middle-class taxpayers, and various attempts at a ‘compromise’ are just as bad," Schumer said in a release. "If the Republicans cap the state and local deduction too high, they will still blow a huge hole in the deficit. Cap it too low, and they’ll continue socking it to the middle class. And forcing people to choose between the state and local deduction and other deductions is like offering to taxpayers to cut off one hand or the other."

    We asked Schumer's office for data on Genesee County and locally, a press aide provided a link to the Tax Foundation, which shows the average state and local tax deduction for Genesee County is $2,257. (The formula for this calculation appears to be different then the calculation presented by Schumer's office in the second paragraph above. That formula is the average of the 29 percent taking the deductions; this formula, according to the article, is an average of all filers in the county.)

    To claim the deduction, filers must itemize their deductions, which might include things like health care costs, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions. 

    Filers who don't itemize can take the standard deduction, which is currently $6,350 for single filers and $12,700 for married couples.

    The current GOP tax plan calls for simplifying deductions and increasing the amount of the standard deduction. 

    Collins expressed support for elimination of the state and local tax deduction in an interview with The Batavian last year when we produced our series on Trump, trade and the local economy.

    “When Vice President Pence arrives in Buffalo today, I hope he’s prepared to explain why he wants to hike taxes on thousands of middle-class families in the Buffalo area and across the country," Schumer said. "It hurts the middle class; it hammers the New York economy; and, it undermines property values."

    April 21, 2017 - 12:35pm
    posted by Howard B. Owens in Charles Schumer, agriculture, news, trade.

    Press release:

    “President Trump and I spoke yesterday about reversing Canada's new and unfair dairy-pricing policy. It is an unwise policy that violates our agreements and hurts our farmers, and we agreed to work together to immediately address the issue.

    "Since Canada’s damaging policies also impact dairy farms in Wisconsin, I suggested reaching out to Speaker Ryan. The three of us, in conjunction with Senator Tammy Baldwin and other stakeholders, will develop a comprehensive plan to tackle this issue.

    "We can all agree that, it is critical to level the playing field for our hard-working dairy farmers and make sure our Canadian neighbors rescind their unfair policy and again play by the rules,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

    Previously: Schumer uses stop in Bergen to raise concerns about rail safety and trade with Canada

    April 19, 2017 - 11:59pm
    posted by Howard B. Owens in Charles Schumer, trains, agriculture, business, bergen.

    schumertrainsbergenapril2017-2.jpg

    Sen. Chuck Schumer was in Bergen today to talk trains and trade.

    He's concerned about volatile sweet light crude oil being shipped from North Dakota by CSX on lines that pass through many populated Upstate communities, such as Bergen, and he's ready to get tough with Canada over new barriers to imports of dairy products from WNY.

    He also answered questions about a potential wall along the border with Mexico, President Donald J. Trump's tax returns, immigration and high-speed rail.

    "Even with the new oil cars, if the train is going faster than 25 miles (per hour) a big explosion will occur and that kind of explosion could occur on these tracks right here in Bergen," Schumer said. "Look, there are houses all around and businesses all around."

    He reminded reporters of a derailment involving fuel cars in Canada few years ago that claimed several lives.

    The fuel car issue has been on Schumer's radar for a few years, but what brought him to Genesee County today to raise the issue again was the derailment of a train carrying gun powder in Batavia during the windstorm in March.

    As he held an enlargement of a picture of the derailment published by The Batavian, Schumer said, "as you can see it’s frightening to look at. These are large, large cars going at a very fast speed and if they had contained flammable materials they can be dangerous."

    The fuel coming through Upstate New York in recent years comes from oil wells in North Dakota that tap reserves inaccessible until new technology changed the oil business. 

    That has been a very good thing, though not without a cost, Schumer said.

    "It's made us much less dependent on foreign oil," Schumer said. "It’s reduced the cost of gasoline and home heating oil and other things over the years, so it’s a good thing. But they don’t refine it out there in North Dakota. It gets on our rail cars and comes right across Upstate New York and Albany. They turn south and they go to those huge refineries in New Jersey."

    According to this NPR story, the number of train cars carrying oil out of North Dakota has increased 4,000 percent since 2008. It was shipped by rail because, at the time these new fields opened, there was no other infrastructure in place to deal with the new supply of oil.

    The trains can be a hundred cars long, Schumer said, and that's just too dangerous. If the oil companies won't voluntarily change the way they do business, then he wants the Commerce Department and Energy Department to write new regulations requiring oil companies to burn off the mixture of methane, butane, and propane that comes out of the ground with the oil.

    The natural liquid gasses, stored in a confined space, are explosive if suddenly exposed to air and a spark.

    The oil companies already do what Schumer wants in Texas, he said, without government regulation.

    That's one reason, Schumer said, the economic impact of his proposal would be minimal and since the gas is going to be burned off one way or another, there is no additional environmental impact by burning it off in North Dakota instead of New Jersey.

    Schumer believes bringing pressure to the issue can lead to change. He said his efforts have already led to rule changes that forced rail companies to ditch older tanker cars, what he called 1-11 cars, for newer, safer tankers. 

    "We pushed very hard, and it hasn’t happened as fast as I’d like, but the law now is they have to get rid of all of these unsafe cars and put safer cars in.  More than half the oil cars now are now safer."

    Schumer also wanted to talk about changes in dairy import policies in Canada that he said are hurting New York dairy farmers and in particular, O-AT-KA Milk Products, which employs nearly 300 people in Batavia.

    According to Schumer, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to protect Canada's dairy industry and has since started to implement measures that are closing the market to U.S. dairy products, mostly what's known as ultra-filtered dairy product, which is used in cheese production. O-AT-KA is one of 70 producers in New York and Wisconsin that are affected by the change in trade policy.

    "I'm telling Trudeau to back off because it would just lead to a lot of trouble on both sides," Schumer said.

    Canada exports some $260 billion in goods to the United States, and trade with New York includes $17.7 billion in goods being shipped to New York while it imports $12.6 billion worth. Top Canadian exports to New York include aluminum ($626 million), paper ($571 million), precious metals ($444 million), motor-vehicle parts ($417 million), plastics ($354 million).

    Canada has a lot to lose in a trade war with the United States sparked by a fight over dairy exports, Schumer said.

    "If they persist, they’re going to suffer with their exports, not necessarily with dairy, but with something else," Schumer said. "I am just adamant about this."

    He said he was surprised that Trudeau has actually been pushing the issue.

    "We didn’t really think they would go through with it at the end of the day," Schumer said. "We just thought it was a campaign promise up there, that they would realize the damage it would do to the Canadian economy if we started going back and forth, back and forth, but they’re persisting, so we have to up our game."

    Schumer suggested Canada's actions are a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

    "That shows you what a lot of good NAFTA does," Schumer said. "I’m glad I voted against it way back when."

    On trade, Schumer said he agrees on a lot more with President Trump, at least the way Trump campaigned, than people might think. He's not a fan of the World Trade Organization (on the dairy issue with Canada, he said it would take the WTO six years to issue a ruling and dairy farmers don't have six years to wait); he opposed NAFTA out of concerns with trade imbalances with Mexico and losing American jobs to Mexico; and thinks more needs to be done to promote and protect American jobs.

    "My position on trade, frankly, has been closer to President Trump than to President Obama or President Bush," Schumer said. "Now I just hope he follows through on all of it. That hasn’t happened yet."

    Schumer does have reservations about Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico. Trump wants to put it in the 2017 budget, but Schumer said he needs to slow down and come up with a workable plan.

    "Here’s what no one knows about the wall: A -- how much it would cost?" Schumer said. "Today we were told there it is an estimate of $70 billion. That’s a huge amount of money. Wouldn’t we rather have that money fixing our roads and bridges and everything here?

    "Second," he added, "no one knows where it should be or what side of the river it would be on. The Secretary of the Interior, whom the president appointed, said he can’t build it on the U.S. side because it would cut off us from the river. We can’t build it on the Mexican side because they won’t have it. Maybe we have to build it in the middle of the river. There are no plans for it. So you can’t go ahead and allocate money until there are plans.

    "The final thing is, eminent domain, there are tons of property owners who own land right up to the border. It would take forever to get their property and you might not even succeed in court. So instead of rushing it through, there ought to be a discussion about it."

    On immigration, he said he is pushing for reforms in the H1B visa program because foreign workers should be paid less than U.S. workers.

    He said he understands the concerns local farmers have about immigrant labor but didn't express much hope that anything will change soon to help them get the help they need.

    He noted that last year, there was an immigration reform bill that Dean Norton, an Elba dairy farmer who was then president of the New York Farm Bureau, helped draft, that would have given farmers the relief they need, but it didn't pass and he doesn't think there will be any movement on it this year.

    "We had a really tough bill and it got bipartisan support in the Senate but it never made it in the House," Schumer said.

    As for Trump's tax returns, he said the president will have an easier time with tax reform if he is completely transparent about his own tax returns. He said Trump is no longer a private citizen and he should release his returns.

    "He should do it because it's going to slow down tax reform," Schumer said. "Any proposal he might make for cutting something, people will say, 'is he doing that because it's good for the American people or is he doing it because it's good for his own real estate holdings?' "

    The last time Schumer was in Bergen, it was to push construction of a high-speed rail line between Bergen and Churchville as a demonstration project. We've heard nothing about the proposal since then.

    "We did get a big transportation budget and in that budget, there was money for high-speed rail," Schumer said. "The Republicans took out the money for high-speed rail. Now, this is an area where there is some agreement, if we could get a major infrastructure bill, there could be money for high speed rail.

    "I know there is division here in Bergen about whether we should have it or not," Schumer added. "I would want to come back to the communities, but if people thought it was a good idea I would probably try to get the money."

    schumertrainsbergenapril2017.jpg

    February 16, 2015 - 1:12pm
    posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Charles Schumer, synthetic drugs, Batavia HS.

    Synthetic drug use hasn't hit the epidemic proportions of 2012, but with reports of related hospitalizations and law enforcement issues on the uptick, Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the DEA to step up its enforcement efforts.

    To draw attention to the issue, Schummer held a press conference this morning in the library at Batavia High School, joined by Superintendent Chris Daily, Principal Scott Wilson, GCASA Communications Director Pamela LaGrou, and Sgt. Greg Walker, head of the Local Drug Task Force.

    "We gave the DEA the authority (with legislation in 2012) to ban a long list of chemical look-alikes," Schumer said. "If it's almost marijuana, or almost methamphetamine, or almost Ecstasy, or almost cocaine, and they can switch a few molecules, we told the DEA you don't need legislation to make it a Schedule 1 drug. You can ban it. The problem is, the DEA is moving much too slowly."

    The DEA is battling against a worldwide network of independent chemists, small labs and distributors who are constantly reformulating their drugs. Schumer thinks the DEA can keep pace.

    "The DEA has a panel of scientists, experts, keeping tabs on new drugs," Schumer said. "We would hope they can ban these before they are actually sold on the market."

    Schumer came to Batavia High because of reports of four students who were hospitalized as a result of using synthetic drugs.

    It's important to education young people about the dangers of these often unknown substances, school officials said.

    Walker said that while opiate-based drugs remain the number one drug enforcement issue in the county, there has been a slight increase in synthetic drug usage locally.

    "Like the senator said, in 2012, we did have a big influx of the synthetics and since then, it has dropped off," Walker said. "Now that Cloud 9 has come up, it's starting to come back, but we're not seeing that huge surge we saw in 2012."

    Schumer said he fears a repeat of 2012 in 2015 if the DEA isn't more aggressive in its enforcement efforts.

    "They've banned 20 (substances)," Schumer said. "But there are another 300 on the list. We're asking the DEA to move much more quickly. The drugs are powerful. They have severe side effects and some kids develop permanent mental problems as a result of using them."

    November 6, 2013 - 11:36am
    posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Alabama, Charles Schumer, STAMP.

    Press release:

    Today, in a letter to the Board of Directors of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), U.S. Senator Charles Schumer pitched Upstate New York as the international center for the growing semiconductor- and chip-fabrication industry. Schumer touted several Upstate locales and specifically pointed to the newest potential mega-site (1,250 acres) for chip fab, the Genesee County Science, Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP).

    Schumer highlighted the development of Upstate New York’s nanotech sites, underlining the many advantages offered by the Luther Forest Tech Campus, the Marcy Nanotech campus, and now the Genesee County STAMP site. Schumer, who recently hosted the SIA at a Capitol Hill briefing with newly elected senators, urged the 18 semiconductor industry CEOs who comprise the SIA Board to consider Upstate New York sites, including STAMP, when establishing their next semiconductor manufacturing and research facility, citing advantages like access to affordable power, and world-class research universities and proximity to a large qualified workforce.

    “The STAMP site will join existing hubs like the Luther Forest Tech Campus and Marcy Nanotech campus, and will become the second semiconductor mega-site in New York State, bolstering the state’s reputation as the preeminent destination for high-tech semiconductor research, design, and development,” Schumer said.

    His letter to industry leaders was released in advance of the 2013 Annual Semiconductor Industry Association Dinner, to be held on November 7th in San Jose, California, when representatives from STAMP will make a presentation to the Board of Directors to outline the advantages of the site. Representatives of other New York centers, including Marcy and Luther Forest will also be present.

    Schumer continued, “Thanks to decades of joint public-private investments in infrastructure and education, and a talented workforce, Upstate New York is the number-one place to establish semiconductor manufacturing in the nation. The promise of the Genesee County STAMP site only adds to New York’s reputation as fertile ground for high-tech and, specifically, semiconductor manufacturing. Simply put: the high-tech manufacturing sector has the potential to remake Western New York and the entire Upstate economy, delivering a new generation of middle-class jobs. It has already begun in the Capitol District, is spreading to Utica, and is poised to take-off in Western New York, too.

    "Upstate New York’s proximity to transportation and energy networks, its access to the creativity and large workforces of major metropolitan cities, and its world-class technology and engineering universities are exactly what the semiconductor industry needs to ensure national and global success – and I made that known to the CEOs of the leading companies.”

    In his letter, Schumer highlighted the unique advantages various Upstate New York State sites, including Genesee County’s STAMP site, provide to the semiconductor industry. The industry has benefited from the State’s advanced transportation networks, industrial infrastructure, and utilities at its other leading semiconductor sites. Schumer explained that the STAMP site would continue with this trend, offering close access to Interstate-90, high-capacity electric transmission lines, a large-scale high-pressure gas line, and the New York Power Authority’s hydropower low-cost electricity zone.

    These assets ensure that the semiconductor factory would receive robust utility capacity, redundancy, and reliability at competitive prices, in some cases at a 75-80 percent market discount. The STAMP site is also situated between the Rochester and Buffalo metropolitan areas, which contain international airports, active customs stations, and a 2.1 million workforce population.

    Last year, Schumer successfully advocated on behalf of STAMP by calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide necessary wetlands permit assurances so that STAMP’s developers could advance the site’s development and begin marketing the site to prospective tenants. Schumer has also taken a lead advocacy role for the semiconductor industry in the 113th Congress, which has led to the passage of major immigration reform legislation and a long-term reauthorization of the federal helium reserve, a critical lifeline for semiconductor manufacturers.

    The growth of the semiconductor industry in Upstate New York has also been encouraged by the region’s strong research and educational base. The State is home to some of the world’s leading technology and engineering universities, including the University of Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University at Buffalo, the University of Rochester, and Cornell University — all of which are spearheading efforts in research, commercialization, workforce development, and collaboration in the high-tech and semiconductor fields.

    Schumer called on the SIA companies to consider the advantages offered by the New York’s high-tech resources, and mega-sites like STAMP primed for development, when choosing the location of their next chip fab. Schumer noted that the long-term development of the STAMP site would bring long-lasting, stable jobs to New York and make the region a hub of high-tech manufacturing.

    March 28, 2011 - 5:58pm
    posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Bethany, Charles Schumer, Veteran's Cemetery.

    After much talk about the need to locate a new veterans' cemetery close to Batavia, only two potential sites announced today by Sen. Charles Schumer are in Genesee County.

    Three sites are in Alden and one is in Akron.

    The two potential sites in Genesee County are in Le Roy and East Bethany.

    Schumer was in Batavia on March 7 to announce his plans to fast track the construction of a cemetery, ideally close to Batavia since it's centrally located between Rochester and Buffalo.

    Currently, the closest veterans' cemetery to either city is in Bath.

    Officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs are expected to visit the six potential sites this week.

    The exact locations were not released.

    The sites were identified after the VA solicited proposals from area landowners willing to sell at least 200 acres of land to the government

    “I have long fought for this veterans' cemetery in Western New York to become a reality, and today’s news that the VA will be visiting six potential cemetery sites in Western New York is an important step towards finally finding a suitable resting place for Western New York vets,” Schumer said in a statement.

    Full press release after the jump:

    March 7, 2011 - 2:17pm
    posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, Charles Schumer, Veterans Cemetery.

    After years of indecision, it's time to put the construction of a new veterans' cemetery in Western New York on the fast track and Genesee County is the perfect place to build it, said Sen. Charles Schumer today at a press conference inside Batavia's American Legion Hall.

    Schumer called on Gen. Eric Shinseki, secretary of veterans affairs, to set a hard and fast deadline for construction to begin and to appoint a regional ombudsman to move the process along.

    "The purpose is twofold -- to get it done quickly and to have local input from our veterans' groups," Schumer said.

    There are 200,000 veterans in Western New York -- representing a proud tradition of service, said Schumer -- and they and their families deserve a cemetery closer than Bath, which is more than an hour from Batavia.

    "Families shouldn't have to drive 75 miles to see a loved ones simply because you want to give them a proper burial in a veterans' cemetery," Schumer said.

    "If you looked at all the veterans in Western New York and dropped pins on a map, and you had to find the middle, it would be here, in Genesee County."

    In January, the Veterans Administration announced it had narrowed its range of possible locations to the Batavia area. The VA is looking for a suitable 200-acre location and a willing seller.

    Schumer said the role of the ombudsman will be to act as a liaison between the local veterans' groups and the VA, enabling the groups to make one or two site selection recommendations to the VA and then moving the process along quickly.

    The ombudsman should be someone all of the veterans' groups respect and can work with, Schumer said.

    "I will bird-dog this until we make sure a veterans' cemetery is built."

    February 26, 2009 - 8:10am
    posted by Philip Anselmo in budget, schools, school aid, stimulus, Charles Schumer.

    Nearly $1.7 billion in education aid will make its way to New York schools from the stimulus package, Sen. Charles Schumer announced today. That $1.7 billion will be direct aid, he stressed, in addition to another $4.7 billion "in additional education and other aid to New York State schools."

    Of that, the Western New York districts will see $102 million. We have not received the details on a county-by-county breakdown, but we hope to have the specific figures for you later this morning.

    Details from the press release:

    The U.S. Department of Education estimates that the economic stimulus package will include nearly $22 billion in direct education aid through the Title I and Special Education/ Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) federal formulas nationwide. Upstate New York is estimated to receive a total of approximately $320 million in new funding for Special Education and approximately $176 million in Title I grants, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and the Department of Education respectively, for a total of $496 million in new direct funding to Upstate New York schools. This funding will give New York’s school districts the flexibility and tools they need to keep serving and educating our children.
     
    Here is how the funding will break down across the state:

        * Capital Region schools will receive an additional $36 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $14 million in Title I grants for a total of $50 million in direct school aid.
        * Central New York schools will receive an additional $37 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $25 million in Title I grants for a total of $62 million in direct school aid.
        * Hudson Valleyschools will receive an additional $94 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $37 million in Title I grants for a total of $131 million in direct school aid.
        * North Country schools will receive an additional $21 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $11 million in Title I grants for a total of $31 million in direct school aid.
        * Rochester-Finger Lakes schools will receive an additional $48 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $32 million in Title I grants for a total of $79 million in direct school aid.
        * Southern Tier schools will receive an additional $24 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $13 million in Title I grants for a total of $38 million in direct school aid.
        * Western New York schools will receive an additional $58 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $44 million in Title I grants for a total of $102 million in direct school aid.

    Updated (11:55 a.m.): We received the full report from Sen. Schumer's office. Genesee county will receive a total of $3 million in direct aid stimulus funding. That will be divided as follows:

    • Alexander Central School District: $265,618
    • Batavia City School District: $983,317
    • Byron-Bergen Central School District: $340,026
    • Elba Central School District: $172,529
    • Oakfield-Alabama Central School District: $309,421
    • Pembroke Central School District: $332,549
    • Pavilion Central School District: $258,944
    • Le Roy Central School District: $371,503

    You can download the complete report here.

    February 25, 2009 - 12:53pm

    Sen. Charles Schumer, in tandem with newly appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, issued nearly twenty press releases this morning on funding earmarked for upstate New York communities in the upcoming federal omnibus bill. None of that money has yet been tagged for projects in Genesee County, at least not according to the announcements out of Schumer's office. Buffalo and Niagara Falls were both listed as recipients of significant funding.

    Buffalo was awarded $950,000 for its Main Street revitilization project. Niagara Falls will receivie $950,000 to ramp up its "international railway station." Tack on funding for university and medical projects, railway infrastructure and tourism, and the funding level for the greater Buffalo region tops $3 million.

    From an article in the Buffalo News this morning:

    The money for Buffalo and Niagara Falls will be included in an omnibus federal spending bill funding government operations through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill today, with Senate consideration set for next week.

    Rochester also looks to benefit. The George Eastman House is on the bill for $381,000 "to preserve and allow access to museum library collections through new Web applications."

    From the press release:

    "This is terrific news for the entire Rochester community," said Schumer.  "The George Eastman House is one of the oldest and most revered photography and film museums worldwide. In these technology-driven times, it’s important for the federal government to do everything in its power to ensure that such historic, cultural gems as this one are able to adapt in ways that allow them to both preserve their heritage and expand their resources.”

    “These federal dollars will go a long way to preserve the collections at the George Eastman House while making them accessible through the internet,” said Senator Gillibrand. “These snapshots are an important part of our history. I will continue to work with Senator Schumer to ensure that New York receives its fair share of federal funding.”

    A significant portion has been eyed for higher education in the state. St. John Fisher College is on tap for $475,000. Albany's College of Nanoscience and Engineering is marked for $1 million. Binghamton University is in line to receive $2 million.

    Batavia City Council members Charlie Mallow and Marianne Clattenburg were in Albany recently meeting with "key officials," according to Mallow, in the hopes of securing fundig for the city. We hope to soon hear what progress they made.

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