N.Y. Gov. Makes Fourth Disaster Aid Request for Farmers Following Rough Weather

November 2, 2004

New York Gov. George Pataki announced that he has made his fourth request this season for disaster assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The latest request adds 12 new counties to the list, bringing the total to 54 counties across New York State that have been adversely affected by weather this growing season.

“This has been one of the most difficult growing seasons on record for New York farmers,” the Governor said. “The rains never let up this summer and in September, the remnants of Hurricanes Ivan and Frances left their mark on our industry as they flooded fields of onions, cabbage and corn, making it impossible in some cases to harvest. We are once again requesting federal disaster assistance for New York farmer’s who have been adversely affected by extreme weather this summer.”

This most recent request for assistance addresses counties that experienced excessive rain, as well as flooding due to hurricanes. Counties in the disaster assistance request include: Albany, Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Erie, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Montgomery, Monroe, Nassau, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orange, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Suffolk, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Washington, Wayne, Westchester, Wyoming and Yates.

The Governor previously sent letters to USDA Secretary Veneman on April 27 for extreme cold and frost, July 14 for rain, hail and high winds, and Sept. 2 for continued rain. Excessive rain presented a host of problems for farmers this growing season, ranging from difficulty working in the fields due to mud, to the introduction of pests, fungus and rot, to the loss of quality and quantity of crops harvested. Crops most heavily affected by the rain this season include hay, field crops and annual vegetable crops.

State Agriculture Commissioner Nathan Rudgers said, “Heavy rains on already saturated soils have caused flash flooding and debris washing into many crop fields across New York State. I appreciate the Governor’s attention to this situation and ask Secretary Veneman to consider these twelve additional counties as disaster areas, which will enable every farmer in New York to apply for financial assistance through USDA.”

With the exception of some damage caused by isolated pockets of hail, apples are one of the few commodities that survived the rains this growing season and actually thrived. New York’s apple crop is estimated to be eight percent above last years crop of 990 million pounds. Steady rains this year helped increase fruit size and sunshine in September helped increase the sugar content.

If the requested counties receive a disaster designation from the USDA, farmers within those counties and the counties contiguous to the designated counties will be eligible to be considered for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency (FSA). FSA considers each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available, repayment ability, and other eligibility requirements.

Agriculture is a $3 billion industry in New York. The sale of New York vegetables generated $321 million last year, ranking New York sixth in the nation for fresh market and eighth for processed.

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