April 14, 2009

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Dutchess, Columbia and Rensselaer Counties Eligible for USDA Federal Disaster Aid

Farmers in Designated Areas Will Be Eligible For Emergency Aid Following Severe Ice Storms in 2008

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Dutchess, Columbia and Rensselaer Counties as contiguous disaster areas due to severe ice storms that occurred in December 2008. All counties will now be eligible for Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loan assistance to help cover losses in the area.

"Farmers in Dutchess, Columbia and Rensselaer who had a particularly difficult year due to severe weather conditions will benefit greatly from this funding," said Schumer. "Farmers are the backbone of our economy and when they are hurting, the whole state feels the impact of the damage. No one can account for natural disasters but this assistance will go a long way towards helping our farmers recover from the devastating losses sustained throughout the year."

"The Capital Region and Hudson Valley were hit hard in December by ice storms. These federal dollars will go a long way to helping our local farms and communities get back on their feet. New York families are dealing with enough in this economy, they deserve support from the federal government as they recover from this natural disaster," said Senator Gillibrand.

From December 11, through December 17, 2008 Dutchess, Columbia and Rensselaer Counties, suffered production losses caused by severe ice storms. After reviewing the Loss Assessment Reports, the USDA designated Dutchess, Columbia and Rensselaer Counties as contiguous disaster areas.

This designation makes farm operators in these 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 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.

Producers in contiguous counties are eligible to be considered for Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans (EM) and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) that was approved as part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.  While EM loans are immediately available to producers in these counties, FSA is in the process of developing regulations and software for the SURE program that will be available later this year.

Regarding EM loans, FSA will consider each application on its own merit by taking into account the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability.  Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers and ranchers with additional information.

Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information. FSA service centers can be located at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=ny&agency=fsa