Deputy Ag Secretary Hears Local Farmers’ Concerns in Connecticut

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Monday, March 29, 2010; By Leslie Parsons: The Middletown Press

DURHAM — Dozens of farmers met with public officials at Greenbacker Farms on Wallingford Road Saturday morning. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan discussed issues concerning farmers, which ranged from the price of milk to the public perception of the humanity of animal slaughter.

The discussants were first led on a tour of the facilities by Melissa Greenbacker, who took the group on a tour of the farm’s cow barn and milking parlor.

“There are more politicians here than we thought there was going to be,” said part-owner Ricky Greenbacker. “But that’s a good thing,” he said, adding that it was good to have “someone from Washington to listen to you.”

Before Merrigan fielded queries in a question-and-answer session moderated by Executive Director of the Connecticut Farm Bureau Association Steve Reviczky, she was welcomed by Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, and Joe Courtney, D-2.

“Your presence is exactly what we need at this time,” Courtney said.

“It’s wonderful to have someone in your position who understands that there is agriculture (here),” Delauro said. “We have someone in the deputy secretary who knows all about these various areas.”

“I understand the importance of having agriculture in a close-knit community,” said Merrigan, who is from Greenfield, Mass.

In her opening remarks, Merrigan was quick to address the concern about dairy prices that were on the minds of many of the farmers who attended. Dairy prices are set by a national formula.

“Things are going downhill again,” she said, adding that the Dairy Adjustment committee will soon be meeting to discuss the issue.

“We have a short-term problem, and we need long-term fixes as well,” she said.

Her focus, however, wasn’t only on dairy farming.

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