Press Release

Gillibrand, Schumer Announce More Than $40 Million Now Available to Help NY Agriculture Communities Recover from Irene & Lee

Jan 18, 2012

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer today announced that the $ 41,794,484 they fought together to secure in disaster relief funding is now available to help New York agriculture communities recover from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

“America has always stood by those suffering from disaster and helped them to rebuild,” said Senator Gillibrand, New York’s first member of the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years. “New York’s farmland endured some of the worst of Hurricane Irene, and much of our farmland is badly damaged. When our farm families suffer, our whole state and whole economy suffers. We need to provide our agricultural communities with all the resources we need to dig out and rebuild from these devastating storms.”

“Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee delivered severe rains and devastating flooding to New York last fall, and caused millions of dollars of damage to farms across the state. Today’s release of $42 million in USDA disaster relief funding will mean that New York’s farmers, residents and counties recovering from this damage will not have to shoulder that financial burden alone,” said Senator Schumer. “Severe weather during these tropical storms scattered debris across farmers’ properties, often damaging crops and hindering them from replanting, and I am thrilled that the USDA has heeded my call to provide the disaster assistance that Upstate farmers deserve.”

The Gillibrand-Schumer amendment to provide this emergency funding passed in November as part of the Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Science, Transportation and Housing & Urban Development appropriations bill. 

$3, 927,000 for Emergency Conservation Program

The ECP is coordinated through USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) to provide emergency funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to repair farmland damaged by natural disasters, and to carry out emergency water conservation measures during severe drought. Conservation practices include removing debris, restoring fences and conservation structures, and providing water for livestock. 

For land to be eligible for ECP resources, the natural disaster must create new conservation programs that if left untreated would impair or endanger the land; materially affect the land’s productive capacity; represent unusual damage; and be so costly to repair that federal assistance is or will be required to return the land to productive agricultural use. 

ECP program participants receive cost-share assistance of up to 75 percent of the cost to implement approved conservation practices determined by county FSA committees. Individual or cumulative requests for cost-sharing of $50,000 or less per person, per disaster are approved at the county committee level, $50,001 to $100,000 is approved at the state level, and over $100,000 is approved at the federal level. Technical assistance may be provided by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

$37, 811, 000 for Emergency Watershed Protection Program

The EWP was established to help conserve natural resources following natural disasters by relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, drought, windstorms and other severe weather. The EWP responds to hazards including debris-clogged streams and channels, undermined and unstable stream banks, jeopardized water control structures and public infrastructure, wind-borne debris removal; and damaged upland sites stripped of protective vegetation by fire or drought. 

Protection efforts can include purchasing floodplain easements to restore, protect, maintain and enhance the floodplain, including wetlands and riparian areas. It can also conserve natural values, including fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention and groundwater recharge, and safeguard lives and property from floods, drought and erosion. 

NRCS may bear up to 75 percent of the construction cost of emergency measures. The remaining costs must come from local sources, and can be in the form of cash or in-kind services. Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance but must be represented by a project sponsor, such as the state, local government, or conservation district. 

All EWP work must reduce the threat to life and property, be economically, environmentally and socially defensible, and come from a sound technical standpoint.

$52, 500 for Emergency Forest Restoration Program
The Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) provides payments to eligible owners of non-industrial private forest land to implement emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster.

The program is administered by the FSA’s state and county committees and offices. County FSA committees determine eligibility using on-site damage inspections that assess the type and extent of damage. Eligibility requirements include:

  • Existing tree cover (or had tree cover immediately before the natural disaster occurred and is suitable for growing trees); and
  • Ownership by any non-industrial private individual, group, association, corporation, or other private legal entity, with definitive decision-making authority over the land.

Additionally, the natural disaster must have resulted in damage that if untreated would:

  • Impair or endanger natural resources on the land; and
  • Materially affect future use of the land.

EFRP program participants may receive financial assistance of up to 75 percent of the cost to implement approved emergency forest restoration practices as determined by county FSA committees.