The planting season is only days away, but farming was just one of several topics discussed when Congressman Tim Bishop shared coffee and bagels with growers during his annual breakfast with the Long Island Farm Bureau Saturday morning.
Federal spending and how or where to cut it dominated the hour-long meeting at the LIFB’s Calverton headquarters. That’s also the top topic in Washington, Mr. Bishop said.
Trimming the federal budget won’t be easy, Mr. Bishop said, since Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, payments on the national debt and the armed forces account for two-thirds of all federal spending.
“You want to shut down Social Security? Fine. Come with me to a senior citizen center and explain it,” the congressman said.
He also said Congress needs to take a close look at agricultural subsidies, none of which are enjoyed by Long Island farmers.
“Can we continue to spend tens of billions of dollars on farm subsidies?” he said. “That’s the issue. The whole issue of what we can afford has to be on the table. It has to be.”
The congressman also discussed pesticide regulations and immigration reform. He said he sees no reason to believe that Congress will seriously address the immigration question anytime soon.
“If we could address the issue without all the hatred, anger, emotion and demagoguery we’d be a lot better off,” said Mr. Bishop. “But right now, emotion is carrying the day, not facts.”