August 7, 2016
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer says the USDA should not delay, in helping farmers in Upstate New York, who are undergoing major losses and crop damage this summer from the drought. The senator says the USDA has several programs like the Livestock Indemnity program for livestock losses, as well as programs for grazing losses, emergency assistance for livestock, honey bees and farm raised fish, as well as tree assistance programs.
Schumer sent the following letter to the USDA:
Dear Secretary Vilsack:
I write to bring your attention to a looming situation impacting New York’s agricultural industry caused by this summer’s severe drought and ask that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) take immediate action to make all necessary resources available in the event of a disaster declaration.
As you may know, 22 counties in New York State throughout the Southern Tier, Rochester-Finger Lakes region, Central New York, Western New York as well as Long Island are currently facing escalating drought conditions. Multiple counties are facing severe drought conditions as evaluated by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). Under this categorization, major impacts to farmers could include crop or pasture losses, water shortages, and water restrictions just to name a few. Farmers across many counties in these regions have already detected evidence of these catastrophic events caused by the serious drought conditions. In addition, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently issued a heightened drought warning spanning 22 counties. Due to this serious drought and the effects it is already having on New York’s farmers, it is imperative that USDA prepare to issue a disaster declaration so all of the necessary resources are available for our farmers as soon as possible.
In addition to the preparation of a disaster declaration, I ask that USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) dedicate all available resources to work with the affected farmers to prepare documentation of losses, so that they can be eligible for individual loss programs offered by your agency as soon as the disaster declaration is finalized. This will help get the necessary resources to our farmers as quickly as possible and allow the recovery process to begin swiftly.
Fortunately, while the Farm Bill included a reauthorization of the expired Tree Assistance Program (TAP) to provide reimbursement to replant or rehabilitate injured or killed vines, as well as other loss programs such as the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) for livestock losses, Livestock Forage Program (LFP) for grazing losses, and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) for other losses, USDA emergency loans may be required to help farmers that sustained bud damage or loss of crop to recover and stay viable for years to come.
New York’s agricultural industry provides a livelihood for many and enriches not only the lives of those people living in the area, but many across the state. The critical part that these farms play in the region’s economy simply cannot be stressed enough.
I appreciate your consideration of this important request.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator