Congressman Gibson works to keep funding for Agricultural and Occupational Health Programs
FLY CREEK, N.Y. (WKTV) - Congressman Chris Gibson visited the Northeast Center for Agricultural and Occupational Health (NIOSH) / New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) in Fly Creek Thursday to learn more about the importance of keeping their federal funding. The center's federal funding which accounts for almost half of their budget is threatened this year.
The center serves 12 states in the Northeast including New York, studying the health and safety problems of those working in agriculture, fishery and forestry. About half of their projects are supported by federal funding, funding that is now at risk.
"When you look at a district such as ours the 19th Congressional District spans 11 counties and 165 towns, the number one driver for our economy is agriculture and the rural economy," said Congressman Chris Gibson who represents the 19th District. "In this critical time as we're looking to grow the economy and move back to a balanced budget, its important we make smart decisions with our resources."
Congressman Gibson is now pushing to keep $42 million of federal funding to support centers like the one in Fly Creek in place, seeing the importance and economic impact of their work.
"When somebody is killed on a farm we know that there is an overwhelming likelihood that that farm will go out of business in the next year, we know that it will cost the state of New York, or an insurance company or somebody between $800,000 and a million dollars for one of these fatalities," said Dr. John May, Director of NYCAMH.
The center's projects include tracking farm related injuries and illnesses, and developing equipment to reduce those injuries and increase productivity for local farmers.
"We're not asking for increases we're just asking that the program to continue to exist," said Dr. May.
Congressman Gibson is currently leading the effort along with Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont to show other law makers how critical keeping federal funding is for agriculture programs.