Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R NY-22) seems to have angered a group of local farmers recently during a radio interview when she said, “any dairy farmer that supports my opponent is not a legitimate business owner.”

Tenney's comments came in reaction to a caller who phoned the radio station before she arrived for an interview, claiming to be a local farmer who was supporting her opponent, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, a Democrat. "They don't know anything about his (Brindisi) record, so I don't take these things personally. I've been fighting hard for dairy farmers...I have dairy farmers in my family background," said Tenney.

In a response put out by the Brindisi campaign on Thursday, five Upstate New York farmers released statements condemning Tenney's comments. “I know many dairy farmers who are supporting Anthony and they are all legitimate business owners," said Mike McMahon of EZ Acres Farms in Homer, NY. "To dismiss your constituents because they disagree with you on politics is offensive and wrong," he added.

Tenney furthered her claim that Brindisi is bad for farmers as she pointed to his voting record in New York's Assembly, citing the state's high property taxes and the increase in the minimum wage, which she says impacts farmers negatively. She also referenced the Oneida Indian Nation land deal which she claims drove property taxes up while taking farmer's lands from them and off the tax rolls. "It's incredible that anyone would vote for someone who has a long standing record in the state assembly that is not good for dairy farmers," she said.

Brindisi disagreed with Tenney over the land deal, in an interview with WIBX on Thursday. "Think of how that land deal has benefited our counties. Oneida and Madison Counties alone receive $20 million in revenue every year because of the land deal," he said. Brindisi added that Governor Cuomo's minimum wage push had downstate support and it was inevitable. He said he was part of a bipartisan group of upstate legislators that pushed for a compromise that negotiated a lower minimum wage for businesses and farmers north of New York City. “Our dairy farmers need a strong advocate in Congress who respects them, understands them and will fight for them. I’ve visited farms throughout the district, and one thing is clear: people are sick and tired of the partisan politics that fail to get things done in Washington," he added.

One Month Until Election Day

The race between Tenney and Brindisi is one of the more contentious house races across the country, The Cook Political Report released on October 3rd, lists the race a "Republican Toss-Up" in a district that leans Republican. A recent Sienna poll from August shows the race almost even, with Brindisi in a slight lead within the margin of error, and an AARP poll released this week, shows Brindisi leading by 13-points with voters over the age of 50.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 5th.

Read the statements below, provided in the Brindisi release.

Mike McMahon, EZ Acres Farms in Homer: “I know many dairy farmers who are supporting Anthony and they are all legitimate business owners. To dismiss your constituents because they disagree with you on politics is offensive and wrong. We need a representative who will fight for all dairy farmers, not just the ones who will vote a certain way.”

James Entwistle, Steven Entwistle, Joseph Entwistle, and Robert Entwistle Jr., Entwistle Farms in Litchfield: “We live and work on the same dairy farm our father founded over 70 years ago. When times are tough, dairy farmers need someone in Washington fighting for them. We are supporting Anthony Brindisi. We are asking Claudia Tenney to take back her comment that anyone who supports her opponent is not a legitimate business owner. That was wrong and insulting.”

Anthony Brindisi, candidate for Congress running against Tenney in the race for the 22nd District added: “Agriculture is vital to Upstate New York and our dairy farmers need a strong advocate in Congress who can fight on their behalf. I’ve visited farms throughout the district, and one thing is clear: people are sick and tired of the partisan politics that fail to get things done in Washington. By dismissing dairy farmers who disagree with her, Claudia Tenney is showing us that she won’t fight for everyone in this district.”