New York Gov. George Pataki has announced that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Mike Johanns has responded to his request for disaster assistance and has declared 27 counties as primary disaster areas due to unfavorable growing conditions in 2004. This latest declaration makes farmers in nearly every county in the State eligible to receive disaster assistance from the USDA.
“Some of New York’s farmers faced a difficult growing season last year with freezing temperatures that damaged grapevines and excessive rain and flooding that hindered the growing season for many vegetables such as onions, cucumbers, beans and squash,” the Governor said. “I appreciate Secretary Johanns’ attention to this matter, which will enable our farmers to receive the financial assistance they need.”
Counties declared as primary disaster areas that were affected by excessive rain, hail, flash flooding, high winds and freeze include: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Clinton, Columbia, Erie, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Herkimer, Lewis, Monroe, Montgomery, Nassau, Niagara, Oneida, Ontario, Orange, Orleans, Otsego, Saratoga, Schuyler, Seneca, Tompkins, Washington, Wayne and Wyoming.
As of September 2004, Governor Pataki had requested 54 counties be considered as primary disaster areas due to the difficult growing season. The 2004 growing season in New York started with extreme cold and frost and then turned into rain, hail and high winds, which continued throughout the summer in most areas of the State. Excessive rain presented a host of problems for farmers, including pests, fungus and rot, and overall difficulty working in the fields due to mud.
State Agriculture Commissioner Nathan Rudgers said, “New York grows a diversity of crops, from fruit bearing trees and vines to perennial grasses to shallow rooted row crops. An immensely wet season as we experienced in 2004 can quickly wreak havoc on our more fragile crops and therefore USDA’s disaster program is critical to help our farmers recover some of the financial losses they incurred. I thank Governor Pataki and Secretary Johanns for recognizing this need.”
With Secretary Johanns’ disaster declaration, farmers in the 27 counties designated as primary disaster areas, along with 27 contiguous counties, are now eligible to be considered for low-interest emergency loans from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). In addition, 17 primary counties and 31 contiguous counties received a Presidential disaster declaration made last year for specific weather-related disasters, such as Tropical Storm Ivan.
Between the latest Secretarial disaster declarations and the Presidential disaster declarations, farmers in nearly every county of the State are eligible to receive emergency assistance from FSA.
The Governor has requested that additional counties, including Westchester and others, receive a primary disaster designation. These requests are currently awaiting approval from USDA.
FSA administers emergency disaster payments to farmers. FSA considers each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available, repayment ability, and other eligibility requirements.
Farmers should visit their county FSA office to check their eligibility to apply for assistance.
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