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

July 27, 2009

New York State Requests Assistance for Crop Losses

17 New York Counties Suffer Crop Losses from Excessive Rain and Hail This Season

Governor David A. Paterson today requested the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designate 17 New York counties as agricultural disaster areas due to bad weather conditions this growing season.  Today, New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker toured crop damage on several Long Island farms that have extensive crop losses due to weather, as well as crops impacted by a widespread fungus known as late blight. 

“Weather conditions have made this an extremely difficult season for New York's farmer families. Too much rain has washed away crops, which have also been damaged by hail stones, and now the harvest is suffering from the effects of late blight,” said Governor David A. Paterson.  “I have asked Secretary Vilsack to recognize our farmers’ hardships and consider declaring these 17 counties agricultural disaster areas, which will enable our farmers to receive the financial assistance they need.”

Since early this spring, New York farmers have experienced a host of weather related problems that have negatively impacted their crops, most notably excessive rain.  In his letter to the USDA, Governor Paterson reported that Albany, Broome, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Oneida, Orleans, Putnam, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties all experienced poor weather conditions ranging from excessive rain and flash flooding to devastating hail storms and early in the season, freezing temperatures.

Excessive rain presents a host of problems for farmers, ranging from difficulty working in the fields due to mud, to the introduction of pests, fungus and rot associated with wet growing conditions, to the loss of quality and quantity of crops harvested. Crops most heavily affected by the rain this season include hay, field crops and annual vegetable crops.

This season, excessive rain has contributed particularly to the early and widespread detection of late blight, affecting tomatoes and potatoes.  The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has received confirmation of the fungus in all but 19 of New York State counties that are outside of the five boroughs.  While preventable, late blight is very difficult to control once it is established and can devastate an entire crop. 

The Commissioner toured four farms today in Suffolk County, the largest agricultural county in New York State, where he saw first-hand the affects of late blight on a tomato crop in Calverton.  He also toured weather-related crop damage from hail and severe storms that left fruits and vegetables scarred, hindering the salability on the fresh market.

If the 17 counties are declared a federal agricultural disaster area, farmers will be eligible to apply for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency (FSA).  FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available, repayment ability, and other eligibility requirements.

Agriculture is a $3.5 billion industry in New York. New York is the second largest apple, cabbage and snap bean producer; third for grapes, sweet corn and cauliflower; and fourth for squash, sweet cherries, and cucumbers.

2009 Press Releases