Morelle seeks federal relief for apple, grape growers hurt by May frost

Posted 14 June 2023 at 10:43 am

Press Release, Congressman Joe Morelle

ROCHESTER – Congressman Joe Morelle is fighting to provide federal funding for farmers whose crops have been significantly impacted by unexpected late-season frost.

“Yesterday I wrote to Secretary Tom Vilsack urging U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prepare a disaster declaration and make funds available for growers who suffered extensive damage due to this year’s late frost,” Morelle said on Tuesday. “As our climate crisis worsens, these weather patterns will become even more erratic, and we need to be prepared for what this would mean for our agricultural economy. My region’s growers must have the resources needed to recover from this unprecedented event, and I urge the USDA to act promptly.”

As the third largest wine grape producer and the second largest apple producer in the country, New York’s agricultural and tourism industries are dependent on the annual yield of wine grapes and apples. This past spring, warm weather in April started plants budding. However, May 18 brought record breaking low temperatures and frost—severely damaging these key crops.

Declaring this extreme weather event a disaster will allow federal funding to be used in an effort to assist farmers. However, as the climate crisis continues, winters will get warmer exacerbating the overall threat of crop damage. Without intervention, plant species native to our area will begin moving north out of necessity, and New York will lose its agricultural economy.

“The full extent of this frost damage will reach far beyond grape and apple growers and will undoubtedly impact New York’s economy,” continued Congressman Morelle. “We must take steps now to reverse the effects of the climate crisis, or our children and grandchildren will pay the price.”