Just a three-hour drive from New York City, the economic devastation is some thing out of "Grapes of Wrath." Across the Southern Tier, the gray scenes of the Great Depression come to life in the rusted and idled farm equipment and dilapidated barns that dot the countryside. In the faces of the hardscrabble people who have hung on to the land, you see hopelessness. Their children have never known prosperity.
I first visited the farmers of Tioga County a decade ago as counsel for agriculture to the state Senate. I saw farms in foreclosure thanks to a brutal combination of high property taxes, ever-stricter environmental regulation, high energy costs and low milk prices.