Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 29 counties in Upstate New York as "primary natural disaster areas" and 21 "contiguous counties" that will be eligible for critical Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan assistance after the drought that decimated crops throughout the state starting in June. As damage assessments were completed throughout the state after the May freeze, Schumer and Gillibrand worked with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to put resources in place to assist farmers who lost crops during the freeze. As was the case after the freeze, this emergency declaration for counties with severe crop damage would make farmers in those counties eligible for emergency disaster loans to mitigate the cash flow problems that occur after crops are lost due to inclement weather. Due to the damage to farms across the state, Schumer and Gillibrand applaud the USDA's swift implementation of the state's request for an emergency declaration to make aid available to impacted farmers as soon as possible.
"After Upstate New York weathered a severe drought this summer, the federal government heeded my call to not leave our farmers high-and-dry when they granted 50 counties access to disaster funding," said Schumer. "I applaud the U.S. Department of Agriculture for swiftly assessing the damage to crops throughout the state following the drought, and coming through with disaster designation when our farmers needed it most. Whenever a disaster strikes and hurts agriculture businesses in Upstate New York, I will continue to work with the federal government to ensure our famers have all the tools they need for healthy crop production."
"For New York State's economy to grow, we need our farms to thrive," Senator Gillibrand said. "Still recovering from last year's back-to-back natural disasters and a late spring frost, the summer's drought was just the latest drain on our farms' productivity. America has always stood by those who are suffering and helped them to rebuild. These disaster declarations will open the door the assistance our farms need so they can get back to business, and keep our agricultural industry on the move."
This disaster designation makes farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties throughout Upstate New York eligible for assistance from the FSA provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans. Farmers eligible in one of the 50 eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance. FSA will consider each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses, security available, and repayment ability.
Now that the 29 counties were declared disaster areas by the Secretary of Agriculture, after a request from the state, agricultural producers in that county become eligible for emergency disaster (EM) loans. Producers in counties that are contiguous to a county with a disaster designation also become eligible for an EM loan. A qualified applicant can then borrow up to 100% of actual production or physical losses as up to $500,000. Once a county is declared eligible, an individual producer within the county must also meet the following requirements:
Be a family farmer and a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.
Experience a crop loss of more than 30% or a physical loss of livestock, livestock products, real estate, or property
Be unable to obtain credit from a commercial lender, but still show the capacity to repay the loan
A full list of the New York State counties eligible for disaster loans appears below:
Primary Disaster Areas
Albany, Broome, Chenango, Columbia, Cortland, Dutchess, Erie, Greene, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Niagara, Oneida, Ontario, Orange, Orleans, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tompkins, Ulster, Westchester, Wyoming, Yates
Contiguous Disaster Areas
Allegany, Bronx, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Delaware, Genesee, Herkimer, Livingston, Monroe, Montgomery, Onondaga, Oswego, Rockland, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Sullivan, Tioga, Washington, Wayne