Help is on the way from the federal government for Finger Lakes farmers and growers whose crops were severely impacted by this past May’s deep freeze. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the New York State Farm Service Agency’s request for a federal Agricultural Disaster Designation for 31 counties across Upstate, including the Finger Lakes.
Senator Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand The senators said that a Secretarial disaster designation has officially been approved for 31 counties including Albany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Columbia, Cortland, Dutchess, Greene, Jefferson, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Washington, Wayne and Westchester and Yates.
Senator Schumer personally called USDA Secretary Vilsack to advocate on New York’s behalf and working with Senator Gillibrand fought to deliver the disaster designation for NY. The senators said Upstate NY suffered major crop damage from the extreme cold weather this past May, destroying grapes, apples, strawberries, blueberries, and other crops vital to the Upstate NY economy, and that with harvest season just beginning, this relief will be critical to supporting impacted farmers on the long road to recovery.
A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and counties contiguous eligible to be considered for critical low-interest FSA Emergency Loans. Impacted NY producers will be able to borrow up to 100 percent of the actual amount of production or physical losses to a maximum amount of $500,000. According to the USDA, emergency loan funds may be used to: restore or replace essential property, pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year, pay essential family living expenses, or reorganize the farming. Farmers in eligible counties have 8 months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.
“From the vineyards of the Finger Lakes to the orchards of the Capital Region, family-owned farms are the backbone of Upstate New York’s agriculture economy. But this past May they suffered from one of the most devastating deep freezes in recent memory, destroying thousands of acres of crops. I personally called Secretary Vilsack to emphasize how important a federal disaster designation is to provide critical relief to our Upstate growers, and now help is on the way,” said Senator Schumer. “I sincerely thank the USDA and Secretary Vilsack for heeding our calls and swiftly providing these growers with a Secretarial disaster designation to unlock these critical emergency relief funds, and I will continue to fight to deliver all of the federal support needed to impacted vineyards and orchards across Upstate NY.”
“This past May’s deep freeze destroyed thousands upon thousands of acres of crops, threatening the livelihoods of farmers and their communities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Senator Schumer and I called on USDA to approve New York’s application for Secretarial disaster application and I’m grateful to Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack for acting swiftly and decisively. This designation unlocks emergency relief funds for farm operators in eligible counties and my message to farmers is this: apply for this relief quickly and my office is here to support you.”