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With Storms Destroying Valuable Crops, Schumer Urges State To Request Disaster Assistance For Many Upstate Counties

Frigid temps and drowning rain leaves Upstate farmers with barely harvestable or completely destroyed wheat and hay crops

Schumer pushes State to request that USDA declare Upstate counties disaster areas, the first step needed to qualify the area for millions in federal disaster relief

Schumer: Send assistance to Upstate counties including Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Cortland, E

"Times have been hard enough for Upstate farmers," Schumer said. "No one can account for natural disasters, but with last year's bad weather and now this past month of frigid temperatures and intense rainfall these farmers can't get a break. Their crops are now damaged and they can't afford to buy more equipment or labor. The State and the feds should both be chipping in to deal with this disaster. "

Intense rainstorms continue to rip though Upstate New York this summer. Last month places it in the top 10 wettest Julys in history. Counties that sustained severe damage included Schoharie in the Capital Region; Cortland, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego in the Central Region; Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, and Yates in the Finger Lakes Region; Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence in the North Country Region; Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Orleans, Niagara, and Wyoming in the Western Region. Other counties will be included as updated crop results come in.

Heavy rains caused the wheat crop to sprout early, which meant much of it would be sold for feed rather than for flour. The current value for animal feed is almost half the selling price of that of wheat flour. The rains have also affected hay crops making it more difficult to harvest and more challenging for farmers to process at cost.

"While more crops and counties may be affected as the season progresses, I urge you not to delay in requesting disaster assistance from the USDA for these and any other counties that have experienced significant crop damage," Schumer said in a letter to Governor Pataki. "There are some things that farmers can account for when they're doing business, like market conditions and costs they incur, but severe weather just isn't one of them. I hope you will seek federal relief to help eligible farmers and producers recover from the production losses from the recent adverse weather."

Schumer urged the State to request the USDA to declare the areas a disaster, saying that doing so is a prerequisite for obtaining federal funds. When a county has been declared a disaster area by the USDA, agricultural producers in that county may be eligible for lowinterest emergency disaster (EM) loans available through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). EM loan funds may be used to help eligible farmers and producers recover from production losses or physical losses. Qualified applicants can also borrow up to 100% of actual production or physical losses at a belowmarket interest rate, which is currently 3.75%

Yesterday, a different disaster declaration was awarded to Upstate New York by FEMA labeling 13 counties major disaster areas triggered by different severe storms and flooding occurring between May 13, 2004 and June 17, 2004. Designated counties were Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Delaware, Erie, Herkimer, Ontario, Saratoga, Schoharie, Steuben, Ulster, Washington and Yates.

By contrast, Schumer's action today is triggered by the cool temperatures and severe storms occurring during the month of July.