FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 17, 2009
SCHUMER ANNOUNCES ESTIMATED $40 MILLION IN DIRECT PAYMENTS COMING TO NEW YORK DAIRY FARMERS IN THE COMING WEEKS - PAYMENTS ARE TARGETED TOWARDS NY STYLE SMALL FARMS
Schumer Helped Secure Funding As Part of Agriculture Appropriations Bill
Schumer Pressed USDA to Place Cap on Size of Farms to Receive Funding And Urged USDA To Have Congressionally Provided Aid Out By Christmas
Today Schumer Announced That Both Of His Requests Have Been Approved and an Estimated $40 Million in Aid to Struggling NY Farmers Will Be Distributed In Coming Weeks
Today U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that struggling New York State dairy farmers will see approximately $40 million in emergency direct payments distributed in the coming weeks. The United States Department of Agriculture has announced its method for distributing aid, which will benefit states with predominantly smaller dairy farmers. Schumer said that USDA will begin mailing checks to farmers in the coming weeks. The Senator was a cosponsor of the amendment to the Senate Agricultural Appropriations bill that passed this fall that provided the $290 million in direct relief to the nation’s struggling dairy farms, and played a critical role in soliciting support for the measure from his colleagues. As the USDA considered methods of distributing this funding, Schumer fought hard, through letters and personal phone calls, to ensure that the funds would go to the nation’s smaller farms where it was needed most, and pushed to have the aid delivered by Christmas. Today Schumer announced that both of these requests were accepted and incorporated into the USDA’s payment method.
“Today’s announcement is the perfect Christmas gift to our dairy farmers,” Schumer said. Dairy farmers are the backbone of New York’s agricultural economy, and they are in the middle of the worst crisis in recent memory - this Congressional aid could not come a moment too soon. We have more work to do to ensure that more farms don’t succumb to bankruptcy, but this is a good start that will provide a quick boost, and help farmers through to a time when they see increased revenue.”
"This emergency aid comes just in the nick of time, as dairy farm families struggle through the end of the year with dramatic cash flow problems," said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau. "We are hugely grateful to Senator Schumer for getting this emergency aid pumped into the industry in quick fashion. It will surely help keep some of our farms in business to the long-term benefit of the Upstate rural economy."
An amendment providing the $290 million in direct aid (plus another $60 million for USDA to support prices through commodity purchases) was co-sponsored by Schumer and attached to the Senate’s Agriculture Appropriations bill. Schumer was instrumental in building support among his colleagues for the amendment, written by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and in ensuring that the amendment was included in the final bill once the House and Senate versions were combined. The bill was signed into law on October 21st. Schumer asked the USDA to expedite the distribution of this aid, saying that it should be delivered by the end of the year at the very latest. Schumer also asked the USDA to distribute the aid in a way that favored states that are characterized by smaller farms, where the crisis is the most severe.
Payments will be sent automatically to farmers, and no application is needed. The USDA will calculate payments based on each qualifying dairy operation’s total pounds of production commercially marketed during the months of February 2009 through July 2009, multiplied by two, up to six million pounds per dairy operation. The payment rate is yet to be determined but it is estimated that it will be approximately $0.32 per hundredweight. The vast majority of New York farms fall under this cap, whereas thousands of industrial farms from other states will be over the cap. The program will also be restricted to farmers have annual average adjusted nonfarm income of $500,000 or less. This yields approximately $40 million for New York’s farmers.
The county by county breakdown of how much farmers will receive based on USDA estimates is attached. More information can be found at http://www.fsa.usda.gov.