New York’s 27th Congressional district has been starving for representation! I’ve lived in NY 27 for 24 years. Our current representative Chris Collins is infamous for his refusal to meet with his constituents at town halls. He has simply never held one. He has said that they are a waste of his time. Mr. Collins may not realize that he must represent us all. So, in lieu of a public exchange, I have some concerns to raise.
I would like to ask Mr. Collins his position on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Since his freshman year in Congress, Mr. Collins has been targeting SNAP. He has proposed to cut $20 billion each year from SNAP. Does Mr. Collins realize that 24,000 households in his home district receive SNAP? I would like to ask Mr. Collins if he has ever known hunger in his lifetime?
Nutrition assistance in 1977 was initially the result of bipartisan co-sponsorship by the most ideologically opposite Congressmen of their day. Senator McGovern and Senator Dole were a “capital L liberal” and a “capital C conservative” even by today’s standards. They got it done to demonstrate broad support and because it was necessary. It was necessary then, and arguably more so today. Does Mr. Collins know that as he enjoys the economic recovery, it has not arrived at every door in his district?
Does Mr. Collins understand that one of the hardest hit industries in his district is farming? Why did Mr. Collins attempt to remove SNAP from the farm bill entirely? Does Mr. Collins realize that SNAP helps farmers too? Does Mr. Collins know that SNAP benefits are eligible to redeem at most farmer’s markets? Does he know that SNAP accounts for nearly $20 million spent annually at farmer’s markets in the US? Farmers of Western NY must deal with many unpredictable conditions, winter thaw, annual rainfall and changing market prices. Now there is a push in Washington for a 33 percent cut in crop insurance. This is something that farmers can count on when the season fails them. What a comfort it would be if they were able to count on their congressional representative. But as he has demonstrated so many times, I believe Mr. Collins will support the Washington agenda over the needs of his home district.