February 11, 2011

Gillibrand To USDA: Approve Request For Disaster Assistance To Expedite Federal Aid To Three Counties In Capital Region Impacted By Severe Snow

Farmers in Rensselaer, Saratoga, Washington Counties Suffered Heavy Damage To Property And Livestock Losses From Buildings Collapsing Under Weight Of Snow

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to approve a disaster declaration for Rensselaer, Saratoga and Washington Counties. In recent weeks, farmers in these counties have incurred significant property damage and livestock losses from the collapse of buildings under the weight of snow and ice. Senator Gillibrand is urging the USDA to immediately approve disaster assistance so farmers in the Capital Region can access the aid they need to recover.

“The amount of heavy snow we’ve received this winter is unprecedented,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Federal assistance is absolutely critical to helping these hardworking farm families recover. New York’s farmers are a critical part of our economy and we must ensure their success.”

In Rensselaer, Saratoga and Washington Counties, the weight of excessive snow has caused the collapse of at least 41 farm building structures within the past two weeks. In addition to property damage, many farms have experienced significant livestock losses as a result of these collapses.  Declaring these counties as agricultural disaster areas would allow producers to obtain critical financing through the Emergency Disaster Loan Program so that they can begin the process of rebuilding.

A disaster area designation would make farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for low-interest Emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). These emergency loans are designed to help producers recover from production and physical losses due to freezes, drought, flooding, other natural disasters, or quarantine.  Emergency loan funds may be used to restore or replace essential property; pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year; pay essential family living expenses; reorganize the farming operation; and refinance certain debts.