Over the past, nearly two decades of working with New York farmers at the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, I have had the opportunity and pleasure of working with a variety of political representatives. Our organization collaborates with agricultural businesses and communities to identify cost-effective, convenient solutions to agriculture-related, health and safety issues. Political representatives have been important partners in these efforts.
Over the past year, I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting and working with a number of staffers from Senator Helming’s office. Over the past 12 months, my interactions with Senator Helming and her staff have been so overwhelmingly positive, that I recently felt compelled to let others know of her and her staff’s relentless dedication to the farm community.
I initially became acquainted with Senator Helming’s staff in relation to the issue of Lyme Disease in the farm community. In our line of work, we are typically tracking legislators down to alert them of the need to mobilize resources. Given this, I was surprised and considerably impressed that Senator Helming’s staff was: 1) well aware of the issue, 2) already researching and partnering with a number of medical and industry groups to develop solutions and 3) had already developed resources they were seeking to share with the NY farm community. In my many years of service to the farm community, I have never seen such a proactive and engaged response from a political office.
Senator Helming’s office has continued to work with us over the past 12 months on a variety of agricultural issues. Barn fires, toxic stress, tractor safety have all been on Senator Helming’s radar, while her staff has continued to explore every option to develop solutions for farmers. Her staff appear to be everywhere and it is hard to find an agricultural meeting, event or discussion, where they are not in attendance.
In an era when political dysfunction, gridlock and polarization appear to be a more popular topic of conversation than the weather, it is hopefully nice to know that there are representatives out there that are truly dedicated to the welfare of their communities. Senator Helming and her staff serve as a remarkable example of community engagement and I am truly grateful to know that they are out there serving farmers to the very best of their ability.
Julie Sorensen is director of the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health