Assemblyman James Skoufis is a freshman member of the NYS Assembly who represents the 99th Assembly District (http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/James-Skoufis). There is a significant amount of farmland, including a great deal of black dirt in his district. One of the Assembly Committees James requested to be was the Assembly Agriculture Committee and he has served with distinction on that committee.
Shortly after taking office he created an Ag Advisory Group made up of a number of farmers and other related stakeholders connected with farming in his district. Last night (January 30th) he held his 2nd formal sit down meeting with the group at the Farmworker Community Center (aka the Alamo) on Pulaski Highway.
First, a little information about the Alamo:
The Alamo has been in existence since the late 1950’s offering a number of outreach and other services to the local farmworker community. Since 1989 Hudson River Community Health has been operating a fantastic healthcare clinic facility on site (http://www.hrhcare.org/medical-clinics/goshen-alamo-health-center) and since 2013 HRC has owned and operated the Community Center. As the pages above relate, a number of fine outreach services are offered at the Alamo now and HRC, under the fantastic leadership of Katherine Brieger (http://www.hrhcare.org/katherine-brieger-ma-rd-cde), has greatly expanded the program and services offered at the Alamo. Before the meeting began Kathy gave an extensive tour of the facilities and programs offered to Assemblyman Skoufis and his Chief of Staff Laurie Tautel.
At 7pm after all the participants arrived the meeting convened. A wide range of topics and issues were raised and discussed, including
* farmworker labor
* the NYSDOL Rural Rep/DIPA Program
* dairy issues
* marijuana issues
* tax issues
amongst many others. Of note: farmworker issues is probably one of the largest and there is a great deal of misinformation and misconceptions held by downstate or urban colleagues of the Assemblyman in the Assembly (and State Senate). James mentioned he is starting the process to invite a number of his colleagues to come up to the region to do a full tour. Kathy very graciously offered the Alamo to be one of the locations for that day’s events. Dates were discussed with the group. CCE Ag Program Leader Maire Ullrich offered her rich expertise and educational facilitating abilities as well. A tentative date of either late May or June was targeted and the group looks forward to this event. We in the local ag community have held numerous similar events over the years!
The meeting ended at 9:30.
I want to publicly thank Assemblyman Skoufis and his staff for spending so much time with us last night, for listening and addressing our various issues and concerns. The Assemblyman has been a fantastic advocate for his farmers and rural community and has been extremely open to input and feedback on any and all issues related to agriculture.
I also want to thank Kathy Brieger for hosting last night, for her extensive tour, and for all the programs and services she and her excellent staff have worked on and developed over the years for the farmworker and rural community at large.