Tracy Mitrano opened her Thursday media call by discussing the new GOP stimulus bill, the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act.

HEALS, announced in the Senate Monday, is a stimulus package of roughly $1 trillion, including $1,200 in stimulus checks, unemployment benefits capped at 70% wage replacement, student loan relief, $105 billion in education funding and more. 

Mitrano said the stimulus package should focus on the “economic fallout” due to COVID-19. 

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“We need to reverse the approach we’ve been taking with stimulus bills,” Mitrano said. “We’re starting at the top of the pyramid, so to speak: special interests, corporations, banks.”

Mitrano asserted people in economic need, coronavirus patients, essential workers and schools need funding the most from stimulus bills. 

“This is serious,” Mitrano said. “We need to start at the bottom.”

Mitrano, the Democratic challenger for the 23rd congressional district, which includes the Greater Olean area, also discussed what she termed unfair business practices in the dairy industry. 

She spoke about dairy cooperatives, such as Dairy Farmers of America, which are groups of farmers selling the products of all their farms and dispersing their collective earnings throughout the organization. The cooperatives, she added, have immunity from antitrust laws, federal and state government laws that regulate business corporations. Mitrano said this lack of regulation has led to unfair business practices and, subsequently caused an increase in dairy farmer suicides in the 23rd district. 

For example, a dairy farmer could be threatened with a determination of contaminated milk by their co-operative if they don’t cooperate, Mitrano said. 

“There are some things a congressperson can’t do,” Mitrano said. “A single congressperson can’t determine the strength of the dollar or the price of milk on a global market, but he can call for hearings to address these unfair business practices.”

Mitrano criticized Tom Reed, the Republican incumbent, for not taking action and said agricultural cooperatives fund his campaign. If elected, she would call for hearings. 

She also criticized Reed’s campaign funding from corporate and special interests, and she said that his calling her an extreme liberal is a poor campaign tactic. 

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