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Mar 29, 2011 3:50 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Long Island Farmers Express Concerns To Tim Bishop

Mar 29, 2011 3:50 PM

Immigration, the federal deficit and environmental protection measures were the topics on the minds of anxious local farmers during a meeting with U.S. Representative Tim Bishop on Saturday in Calverton, where the Long Island Farm Bureau hosted its annual visit with Mr. Bishop to discuss the future and status of Long Island’s agricultural industry.

While informing them that cuts to agricultural programs in the federal budget this year were “minimal to nonexistent”—as the bulk of the reductions are in education, science and safety-net programs—Mr. Bishop also answered questions about immigration reform. Specifically, the farmers asked about rumors that pending federal legislation will require that they run the names of potential employees through E-Verify—an internet program that detects whether or not individuals are eligible to work in the United States.

With most farmers relying on immigrant workers for farm labor, there were concerns raised that implementing E-Verify would have a devastating effect on their workforce. Some also asked if it was possible to institute a guest worker program to allow immigrant laborers to work on local farms.

Mr. Bishop said that it was unlikely that E-Verify would be instituted this year, as there were too many issues with the system. On the subject of immigration reform, Mr. Bishop said no serious legislation reforms were on the way, due to numerous issues before Congress, including federal budget and deficit spending issues.

“We have allowed anger and emotion and demagoguery to rule the debate on immigration as opposed to fact and reason and trying to be in the real world,” Mr. Bishop added.

Frank Beyrodt, president of the Long Island Farm Bureau, said he was doubtful that too much was going to change on the immigration front.

“This is a very contentious bill, with a lot of misinformation out there and, unfortunately, it’s not going to help a lot of farm communities and other businesses out there until we get some serious reform,” he said. “So we’re hopeful, but based on what [Mr. Bishop] said, I don’t think too much is going to change.”

Joseph M. Gergela III, executive director of the farm bureau, was concerned about what he described as overly strict regulations placed on pesticides by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agency’s new direction on pesticides, Mr. Gergela said, was making it more difficult for farmers who are dependent on them to protect their crops. “Zero tolerance is not acceptable,” he said.

Charles Scheer, a retired farmer and former president of the Long Island Farm Bureau, said he was also concerned about the issues revolving around pesticides.

Mr. Bishop said the new leadership of Congress appeared determined to rein in the EPA in order to bring more balanced regulations on pesticides.

What most concerned Mr. Beyrodt, the owner of DeLea Sod Farms, was that he and other farmers are running out of tillable land. With only 600 active farms now remaining on Long Island and continuing pressure from developers, Mr. Beyrodt said farmable land is quickly disappearing.

“If we don’t have some real farmland protection, we are going to wind up without farms altogether,” he said. “We are the last bastion here on Long Island.”

Others in attendance questioned whether or not Mr. Bishop could still effectively represent local farmers now that he is a minority member of the House of Representatives after Republicans gained control during midterm elections. In response, Mr. Bishop, a Democrat from Southampton said that, despite the shift in power, he could still provide a voice for farmers on pressing issues.

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The Illegal Immigration War at Home

The 14th Amendment clarifies that any child born on the soil of the United States, has immediate citizenship and all the benefits that is commanded by that law. Until this law is amended of rescinded the repercussions on this country are immense, spending in the billions of dollars each year. Many pregnant women lie to the Immigration and Customs official at airport terminals or just slip across the US borders, in the dead of night. Illegal immigration ...more
By Brittanicus (1), Indianapolis on Mar 28, 11 6:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
Brittanicus -- keep it in Indianapolis, thanks.
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Mar 29, 11 10:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
Brittanicus, The tea party is a fiction invented by Dick Armey. It is nothing more than the same far right that has always existed except that they now have a name that gives them a false sense of identity. Your rant is reminiscent of the paranoid writings of Timothy McVeigh and Ted Kascynski. Feel free to distribute freely.
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Mar 28, 11 7:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
Tim Bishop is ineffective in the Minority. All was well when there were big numbers in the House to cover his back. But now that he has to use skill, he can't do it. he should never have allowed the farmers to be put into this position.
By Hayden (1), Hampton Bays on Mar 28, 11 10:14 PM
what position is that?
By jama (2), Quogue on Mar 29, 11 10:58 AM
E-Verify is a VERY GOOD IDEA. It's time a verification process is in place to flush out all of the illegals who flock here for the free ride. If their sources of income are curbed (earned without them paying taxes on it, and most of it sent out of the country via Western Union, thus the money is not even spent in our local economy) then maybe, finally, there will be a reason for them to go home and apply to come back to the US - the legitimate way!!!
By AARGHHH (12), Hamptons on Mar 29, 11 10:49 AM
Great idea - and then, after farmers and restaurants are forced to pay astronomical wages to get others to pick their crops and wash their dishes (i.e., the work that no one else wants to do), you can enjoy a $30 side salad the next time you dine out.

If you're really concerned about free rides, how about getting the GOP to stop asking for corporate tax cuts and instead get them to eliminate corporate tax loopholes (see: GE's 2010 $14 billion profit, $0 US taxes paid, $3.5 billion tax ...more
By CoweeDewey (110), East Quogue on Mar 29, 11 3:08 PM
Excellent post Brittanicus, welcome aboard! Get ready for the lunatic fringe and Demokrat lackeys to start pontificating, it's always good for a laugh.
By bigfresh (4589), north sea on Mar 29, 11 4:20 PM
Mr. Kascyinski, meet Mr. Bigfresh. I am sure you'll be best of friends. Indianapolis? Hah!
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Mar 29, 11 4:37 PM
He tried to be faithful to his party . . .sometimes blindly. . . gotta give him credit for that. But there is nothing he will be able to do for the farmers or the immigrants here during his waning term -- anyone can just ask anyone him about the legal visa situation being doled out by the Feds (to business owners who want and need them on Long Island) and see what the answer is: "There's nothing i can do". No kidding. Never has been with him, never will be.
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Mar 29, 11 11:30 PM
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