Palmesano And Assembly GOP: No Farmers, No Food

April 14, 2020

From Assemblyman Palmesano:

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) and his Assembly Republican colleagues sent a letter to President Trump, Sen. Schumer and top administration officials urging them to push Congress to authorize a new relief package to help the state’s agricultural industry.

They’re also pushing the officials to ensure that farmers are eligible for benefits previously appropriated in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Particularly here in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Region, our family farms power our economy. Generation after generation, they feed their neighbors. They sell their products all over the world. It’s a tradition that defines us. 98% of all farms in New York state are family farms. They’re hurting right now, and we need to step in with the relief they need to continue operating,” said Palmesano.

Palmesano and his colleagues want the federal government to ensure that farmers are eligible for disaster loan funding and are seeking federal reimbursement for any actions the state must take to support farm families. They are also seeking a larger state share of the aggregate CARES Act Funding.

Most importantly, the lawmakers are urging both houses of Congress to pass a new stimulus package that also provides critical assistance for our state’s agricultural industry, an investment that will produce ripple effects across the economy.

“New York state is the global epicenter of this crisis, we’re one of the nation’s leading agricultural producers and our country isn’t going to have any sort of economic resurgence without thriving, fully-operational family farms. Agriculture is our state’s number one industry. That’s why we’re asking the administration and Sen. Schumer to make this a priority in Washington on both sides of the aisle,” said Palmesano.

“Bad policies in this state made our farm families vulnerable to any crisis. Increasing their labor costs, crushing them with mandates and stifling them with regulations created a bad situation. Now, they’re in crisis. We need to do the right thing and provide them with the help they deserve before it’s too late.” said Palmesano.

See letter from Assembly GOP:

Dear Mr. President, Secretary Perdue, Administrator Carranza, Minority Leader Schumer &
Congressional Leaders:

As federal officials attempt to manage and minimize the devastating impacts of the
COVID-19 pandemic, we write to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to take
immediate steps to provide critical relief to New York State’s Agricultural industry.
Members of the New York State Assembly Minority Conference represent thousands of
family farms in every region of the State. We write to our federal representatives because we
know firsthand the needs of our farmers, and we are witnessing an industry approaching the
brink of collapse.
With approximately 160,000 positive cases, New York State has been the epicenter of the
COVID-19 outbreak for months. Measures to prevent the spread of the virus have led to severe
disruptions to the dairy industry’s supply chain, dramatic reductions in demand, and have forced
many farmers to dump valuable product.
New York’s 33,400 farms, including 4,000 dairy farms, are the backbone of our
economy, and more importantly, the food supply. In New York alone, the agricultural industry
generates more than $5 billion in sales annually, of which $2.5 billion is attributable to the dairy
industry.
As one of America’s top dairy-producing states, New York’s economy and entire
agricultural industry are facing an unprecedented challenge that necessitates an unprecedented
commitment from federal leaders. While officials in Washington deliberate additional stimulus
measures to revitalize our nation, help our citizens, and enable industries to recover, we
respectfully request that you consider these recommendations to help our farms and State
economy survive:
 The $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was a
monumental achievement to assist Americans in this time of crisis. We believe the USDA
must ensure New York State immediately receives the largest percentage of CARES Act
funding, due to the severity of the virus here, combined with our position as a national
leader in dairy production;
 The Small Business Administration (SBA) must clarify and ensure that farm and
agricultural businesses are eligible for the $10,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan
provided for in the CARES Act;
 Further, the federal government must ensure that the temporary flexibilities on farm loans
recently announced by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) are made permanent for the
duration of the pandemic and subsequent economic recovery, and also by ensuring
adequate and equitable access to credit during this period of market uncertainty;
 Washington must enact an additional stimulus package that provides 100 percent federal
reimbursement of monies lost to New York farmers that would not be covered under the
CARES Act. Further, this relief should continue for at least 90 days after the present
emergency period has expired;
 The federal government should ensure that the H2-A visa program continues to operate;
 The list of agricultural items should be expanded to include dairy products for the
Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program; and
 The federal government should reimburse the State for any revenues lost by actions
designed to reduce costs and regulatory burdens on the agricultural industry.
Farming is part of the very fabric of our state and nation. It is more than just an industry
or occupation. Farming is a calling that requires unique character, an unrivaled work ethic, and
an unwavering commitment to provide food and products upon which the entire world relies. We
need to do everything in our power to ensure their success and their survival continues long after
we have defeated the COVID-19 pandemic.
As you know, time is of the essence. Every day that passes without meaningful federal
assistance is another day of uncertainty for farming families, or another day farms move closer to
closing their doors. We hope the USDA will act with speed and urgency to provide substantial
relief here in New York.
Our entire Conference appreciates your tireless efforts during this troubling time. We thank
you for your consideration and attention to this pressing matter.

God bless America.
Sincerely,