August 31, 2016
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Disaster Declaration For 24 Counties Across New York State to Assist Farmers Impacted By Drought

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces Disaster Declaration...

Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York and Southern Tier Counties Included in Declaration Enabling Farmers to Qualify For Emergency Loans

Additional County Requests Are Pending

State Agriculture Commissioner, State Leaders to Tour Farms in Affected Areas 

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 24 counties across Upstate New York have been designated as a natural disaster area by the federal government as a result of this summer's drought. These designations mean that farmers in those areas may be eligible for assistance, including emergency loans, from the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. Additionally, 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.

"Strong agriculture is critical to the vibrancy of Upstate New York and this year's hot, dry summer have created significant challenges to this crucial industry," Governor 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."

"Our hearts go out to the farmers and ranchers affected by the drought in New York," said United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "President 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."

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.

The primary counties included under this designation are in Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York, and Southern Tier and they include:

Western New York

  • Erie
  • Niagara

Finger Lakes

  • Genesee
  • Livingston 
  • Monroe 
  • Ontario
  • Seneca 
  • Wyoming 
  • Yates

Central New York

  • Cayuga

Southern Tier

  • Chemung
  • Schuyler
  • Steuben
  • Tioga
  • Tompkins

The federal government also named nine counties in the Finger Lakes, Western New York, Southern Tier, and Central New York as contiguous disaster counties. They include:

Western New York

  • Allegany
  • Cattaraugus 
  • Chautauqua

Southern Tier

  • Broome

Central New York

  • Cortland 
  • Onondaga 
  • Oswego

Finger Lakes

  • Orleans 
  • Wayne

In addition, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets will continue to work with its partners in monitoring the drought situation and its effect on New York farms in these and other counties across the State, including in the North Country, Capital Region and on Long Island. The Department will also tour affected farms in Western New York, the North Country and the Southern Tier.

A disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans.

The Farm Service Agency considers each emergency loan application based on the extent of production losses on the farm, and the security and repayment ability of the operator. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information. Contact information for the offices can be found here.

State Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "The lack of rain we have been seeing this summer has been presenting serious challenges for farms in areas of the state. While it's too early to tell what the overall impact will be, forage, hay, corn, and grain crops to feed animals over the winter will likely be affected, so it’s critical that these counties be declared as disaster areas so they can apply for the assistance they may need. We will continue to survey farms across the State and encourage our farmers to reach out to us or to FSA if they have any questions."

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie said, "This summer's unusually hot, dry weather has meant severely damaged crops and lost profits for hardworking farmers across our state, including many in region I represent," said. “In light of these recent, arid conditions, our farmers need help—and I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for recognizing that. This disaster declaration is a start toward getting farmers the assistance they need to rebound from the devastating drought, and I look forward to the designation being expanded to other impacted counties—including Jefferson County—so our farmers can continue to contribute to the growth of New York’s leading industry."

Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Assemblyman Bill Magee said, "I thank Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Ball for their concern during this difficult and unpredictable time for farmers across the State. They have been working in partnership with our agricultural industry partners to help farmers stay informed and report their losses, ensuring they could take advantage of the federal assistance available in extreme circumstances like this."

New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton said, "New York Farm Bureau is pleased that USDA Secretary Vilsack acted quickly and recognized the impact that this summer's drought has had on our farmers in New York. Many of our farmers in these affected areas are in need of assistance with feed, water and other resources. The declaration is the first step in working to get assistance to those farmers in their time of need."

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, along with its Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Farm Bureau, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Cornell Eden program, recommend that farmers affected by the drought should continue to document their conditions (pictures and video), and any losses. Farmers can also file a CCC- 576 (Notice of Loss) with their local USDA Farm Service Agency. 

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