Farmers can get loans for drought loss, crop damage
TRI-COUNTY AREA (9/7/2016)--Area farmers are now eligible for emergency loans due to crop loss and damages from drought conditions. Public Affairs and Community Outreach Specialist with the USDA Farm Service Agency Lynnette Wright said producers can borrow up to 100 percent of actual production to a maximum amount of $500,000. She added farmers must have suffered at least a 30 percent loss in crop production to be eligible for this assistance. Wright said when the U.S. Drought Monitor measured a D3 drought in 15 counties, those counties and any neighboring counties were fast-tracked to a Secretarial Disaster Designation.
Yates, Schuyler and Steuben Counties are part of the 24 counties recently declared to be a disaster area due to the continuing drought conditions in the region. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo made the announcement Aug. 31, which means farmers in those areas may be eligible for assistance, including emergency loans, from the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. The additional counties that are part of the disaster declaration include Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Wyoming, Cayuga, Chemung, Tioga and Tompkins Counties. The federal government also named nine counties as contiguous disaster counties, including Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Broome, Cortland, Onondaga, Oswego, Orleans and Wayne Counties.
"Strong agriculture is critical to the vibrancy of Upstate New York and this year's hot, dry summer has created significant challenges to this crucial industry," Cuomo said. "From Western New York to the North Country, New York's growers and producers are major drivers of our economy and the benefits they provide to the community are immeasurable. In these difficult times, we must ensure that they have full access to all the resources necessary for making a full recovery."
Wright said farmers have to file a complete loan application, noting funding for this program is administered by Congress. The loan approval process can take as long as 60 days once a complete application is received and loan funds will be made available within 15 business days of loan approval. Wright said farmers should contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to see what programs they are eligible for, and to report their losses. The Steuben/Yates FSA office is at 415 W. Morris St. in Bath (607-776-7398). The Seneca/Schuyler FSA office is located at 12 N. Park St. in Seneca Falls (315-568-6346).
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball, state lawmakers and other farm leaders will be conducting on-site assessments of farms affected by the drought, while the state works closely with Cornell University expert hydrologists and climate professors to help understand and study the outlook for recovery. Disaster declaration is based on reporting of crop loss to the federal Farm Service Agency and a D3 designation by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The federal government declared 15 counties as primary natural disaster areas and an additional nine counties as contiguous disaster counties due to a recent drought. In addition, several other counties in the North Country, the Finger Lakes, Central New York and the Southern Tier regions are also requesting primary disaster declarations.
"Our hearts go out to the farmers and ranchers affected by the drought in New York," said United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "President [Barack] Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation's economy by sustaining the successes of America's farmers, ranchers and rural communities through these difficult times. We're also telling New York producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood."