05.14.10

SCHUMER TOURS FROST DAMAGED APPLE FARM; MEETS WITH FARMERS FROM DUTCHESS AND ULSTER COUNTY WHOSE CROPS HAVE BEEN HURT BY FROST, AND DISCUSSES POTENTIAL FEDERAL AID

Recent Late Frost Has Damaged Crops on Farms That Grow Everything from Apples to Onions Schumer Tours Damage, Meets With Apple Growers, Black Dirt Onion Farmers and Others to Discuss Potential Response Schumer: Farmers Are the Backbone of our Rural Economy and We Can Not Allow One Season of Frost to Hurt Their Businesses

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer toured a frost damaged apple farm and met with farmers from Ulster and Dutchess counties. During an appearance at a Dutchess County apple orchard, Schumer said that a recent late frost has caused damage to a variety of crops, from apples to black dirt onions.  Schumer met with farmers to see the extent of the damage and discuss potential responses.
 
"Our farmers are the backbone of New York's rural economy and this late frost could potentially be a big blow," Schumer said. "I pledge to do everything I can to help these farmers recover so they can take care of their families and keep our economy humming."
 
Farmers across Upstate New York and throughout the country know how vital timing can be when deciding to plant, making a late frost all the more devastating. This year unseasonably warm weather got many New York crops off to an early start, but a significant and unexpected frost has damaged crops across the Hudson Valley which has put livelihoods at risk. In an effort to get a sense of the extent of the damage and explore what steps the federal government can take to aid the farmers, Schumer toured some of the damaged crops and discussed the situation with local farmers.
 
Maintaining a strong agriculture industry is crucial to the health of New York's economy. Every year New York's 36,000 farms pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the state economy and employ thousands of New Yorkers. In fact, New York's apple growers alone boost New York's State's economy by $270 million every year and employ 17,000 residents. Also, a significant portion of New York's apple crop is grown right in the Hudson Valley, which boasts 147 total apple farms that span nearly 8,000 acres. Today, Schumer reaffirmed his commitment to work with local farmers of every crop to mitigate the damage done to their crops because of the late frost and help them recover to ensure local economies can grow and jobs are saved.
 
Schumer pointed to several federal programs that may be able to help local farms recover.  Schumer pointed specifically to the tree assistance program as something that could potentially help apple growers.  USDA Farm Service Agency's (FSA) Tree Assistance Program (TAP) provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters occurring on or after Jan. 1, 2008, and before Oct. 1, 2011. TAP was authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill and is funded through the Agricultural Disaster Relief Trust Fund.
 
Schumer also said that he would be discussing a potential disaster area designation.  A disaster area designation would make farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for lowinterest 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.
 
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