ALBANY Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I Olean) has spearheaded a request to Governor Andrew Cuomo, asking for his help for growers across the state whose crops have been devastated.
Local fruit growers, including grape farmers, have been affected by the unseasonable warm weather that was followed by freezing temperatures. Senator Young recently joined area growers and Jim and Karen Fisk, owners of Fisk Farm in Dunkirk, for a tour of their farm to view the damage caused by the freeze events, which began on March 27.
"Our growers locally and in our state regions are facing significant losses," Senator Young said. "To help our agricultural base, I coordinated my fellow senators to join in a letter to Governor Cuomo requesting assistance for areas hit hard by the freeze/thaw cycle. Our economy heavily relies on many of the damaged crops like apples, peaches, grapes and strawberries, so we must take action and lend any support possible."
Early damage estimates from the Federal Farm Services Agency show losses in areas that will meet threshold requirements for disaster relief. Multiple Western New York counties, including Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara, Orleans and Wayne, as well as areas of the Finger Lakes, North Country, Central New York, Hudson Valley and Long Island are affected. While New Yorkers will still enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables, the availability will be lessened.
"The Federal Farm Services Agency continually gathers crop loss data, and it's possible that loss estimates will rise throughout the growing season as additional damage is determined," Senator Young said. "Many of our farmers and growers rely on assistance from crop insurance, but it isn't always enough. Our letter urges Governor Cuomo to petition our federal government for a federal disaster relief declaration, which would allow farmers in need of extra help to qualify for grants and loans. This aid will help to lessen the crushing impact of the untimely freeze events and ensure that our agriculture sector remains viable. We will continue to work hard on this critical issue so we can assist our farmers and growers - some of the most important drivers of our local economies."