Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that dairy farmers who were forced to dump milk, due to power outages and washed out roads and bridges preventing transportation, will receive payments at the market value for the milk that they had to dump. Instead of being saddled with lost revenue because their milk never made it to market, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking administrative action that will result in dairy farmers receiving a check as if they had sold their spoiled milk at the market. With many farmers facing huge bills to repair damaged infrastructure and replacing livestock, Schumer and Gillibrand said today that these payments provide a key source of relief as dairy farmers seek to rebuild and recover from Irene.
“Dairy farmers were some of the hardest by Irene, and the federal government needs to do everything it can to help our farmers recover and get back on track,” said Schumer. “I’m pleased that the Agriculture Secretary has taken this step that will ensure that our farmers don’t lose out on perfectly good milk that was only ruined by mother nature. I’m going to keep pressing USDA and all federal agencies to be flexible and creative in helping New York rebuild.”
“New York’s dairy farms endured some of the very worst of Hurricane Irene, costing many of these farms their business,” said Senator Gillibrand, New York’s first member of the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years. “When our family farms suffer, our whole state and whole economy suffer. This is vital support that our dairy farms need to help get back on their feet and begin to recover. I will keep fighting to secure every necessary federal resource to rebuild and get our agricultural economy back in business.”
According to the USDA: Hurricane Irene affected the ability of some dairy cooperatives and handlers in the Northeast to pick up milk at local farms particularly in Eastern New York. In some instances milk was dumped on the farm when it was unable to be picked up on a timely basis or where loss of power impacted milk quality, rendering such milk as non-Grade A. Due to the impact of this natural disaster on dairy farmers in the Northeast, USDA is taking administrative action to include this milk as part of the Federal milk marketing order pool for the months of August and September as needed, although it was never delivered to a plant for processing. This decision will enable cooperatives and handlers to pay the Federal order blend price to affected producers on all the volume that they produced including any milk dumped due to Hurricane Irene.
USDA encourages all farmers, ranchers, producers, landowners and rural communities to contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Center to report damages to crops or livestock loss; their local Rural Development office for housing, business or community assistance information and/or their local Natural Resources Conservation Service office for help with debris removal. Below are some programs that offer assistance:
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) – NAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers affected by drought, flood, hurricane, or other natural disasters. NAP covers non-insurable crop losses and planting prevented by disasters. Landowners, tenants, or sharecroppers who share in the risk of producing an eligible crop are eligible. Eligible crops include commercial crops and other agricultural commodities produced for food, including livestock feed or fiber for which the catastrophic level of crop insurance is unavailable. Also eligible for NAP coverage are controlled-environment crops (mushroom and floriculture), specialty crops (honey and maple sap), and value loss crops (aquaculture, Christmas trees, ginseng, ornamental nursery, and turf grass sod).
Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE) – SURE was authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill and covers crop revenue losses from quantity or quality deficiencies only in those counties and contiguous counties declared disaster areas by the Agriculture Secretary or in cases where the overall production loss exceeds 50 percent. Approved crop insurance or noninsured crop disaster assistance must be in place to qualify.
Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm Raised Fish (ELAP) – ELAP was authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill to provide emergency relief to producers of livestock, honeybees, and farm-raised fish and covers losses from disaster such as adverse weather or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires not adequately covered by any other disaster program.
Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) – LIP was authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill to provide assistance to livestock producers for livestock deaths from disaster events, in excess of normal mortality.