Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

August 15, 2008

Governor Paterson Announces Federal Disaster Aid for New York State Farmers

40 Counties Eligible for Federal Assistance for Hail Damage to Crops

Governor David A. Paterson today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has responded to his request for disaster assistance, declaring 17 counties as primary disaster areas due to damage caused by a severe hail and wind storm on June 16, 2008. As a result of the USDA’s action, farmers and growers in the 17 counties declared as disaster areas and 23 other counties that were named as contiguous disaster areas will now be eligible for low-interest emergency farm loans. Governor Paterson requested the disaster declarations in a letter to USDA Secretary Edward T. Schafer on June 26, 2008.

"This help is badly needed. It has been a challenging year for New York’s farmers who are the backbone of our Upstate New York economy," said Governor Paterson. "I am pleased that the USDA has acknowledged our need for assistance during this difficult growing season, providing our farmers with the opportunity to apply for emergency loans. If we can help our farmers withstand the financial hardships associated with these difficult weather conditions, we can help preserve Upstate New York’s important agricultural future."

The 17 primary disaster counties are Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Erie, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Monroe, Onondaga, Ontario, Orange, Orleans, Rockland, Schoharie, Ulster, Wayne and Westchester.

Counties contiguous to the 17 primary disaster areas are Bronx, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Cortland, Delaware, Hamilton, Herkimer, Livingston, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara, Oswego, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Seneca, Steuben, Sullivan, Wyoming and Yates.

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said: "This is great news for New York farmers who suffered the brunt of the hail storm this past summer. This federal aid will go a long way towards giving New York’s farmers the assistance they need after this devastating storm. This assistance from USDA is essential for farmers to cover their losses and to help rebuild farmland. Just last week I was in Wayne County to talk with farmers and growers about the losses they have experienced because of the hail storm and I know how much this assistance is needed. I want to thank my colleagues, Governor Paterson, Senator Clinton and all local officials for coming together to get this done."

U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said: "This is welcome news for New York’s hardworking farmers who are still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of the June storms. I am glad to see that the USDA has responded to our call and issued this disaster declaration so our farmers will not have to stand alone in shouldering the burden of recovering from this disaster. I will continue to work hard to ensure our farmers have the resources they need to get back on their feet, and I strongly urge anybody who thinks they may be eligible for assistance from the USDA to visit their local FSA office as soon as possible."

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said: "I thank Governor Paterson and the USDA for their diligence in getting the assistance our farmers need during this difficult growing season. While crops are still abundant in the fields, hail storms have repeatedly damaged fruits and vegetables this season, leaving them scarred with pit marks and unmarketable for the fresh market. While the entire crop was not lost, any loss of fresh market produce severely hurts the bottom line of farmers."

John Lincoln, President of the New York Farm Bureau, said: "The hailstorms this summer have been unprecedented in scope and we need all the help we can get to help our farmers recover. The rallying of our leaders in Albany and Washington helped make this declaration come quickly. Our industry is grateful."

On June 16, much of New York State was battered by one of the worst hail storms in recent years. It damaged many crops including apples, cherries, fresh vegetables, grapes and corn. At the time, strawberries and cherries had just come into season, leaving damaging pit marks from hail stones. Immature tree fruits, such as apples, peaches, pears and plums, were also damaged aesthetically and are no longer sellable on the fresh market. Young vegetables were damaged in the fields, stressing plants, inviting pests and disease, and causing production setbacks.

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers emergency disaster assistance to farmers. Qualified producers in all 40 counties, whether declared a primary or contiguous disaster area, will be eligible to be considered for low-interest emergency loans from USDA FSA. FSA considers each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available, repayment ability, and other eligibility requirements.

Agriculture is one of New York’s largest and most vital industries, encompassing 25 percent of the State’s landscape and generating more than $4.5 billion for the State’s economy each year. New York has 7.5 million acres of farmland with more than 34,000 farms. The State is also a leader in a variety of farm products, ranking first in cottage cheese, second in apples, cabbage and maple syrup, and third in milk, grapes and cauliflower.

2008 Press Releases