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Orleans among 43 counties approved for disaster declaration due to wet spring

Photo by Tom Rivers: A farmer plants seeds in late May in Carlton on Waterport-Carlton Road. That sunny day gave farmers a chance to get their big equipment out in the fields.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 January 2020 at 2:17 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Orleans County has been named one of 43 counties in the state approved as a natural disaster designation after suffering heavy rains and severe flooding during the 2019 farming season.

This designation allows communities hurt by extreme weather to access certain federal assistance, such as emergency loans and other aid programs, from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to help recover their losses.

In Orleans, there are usually about 125,000 acres planted each year with corn and soybeans. The wet spring delayed planting with farmers deciding not to plant 23,170 acres, according to the Farm Service Agency in Orleans County. There were about 90,000 acres that went unplanted in Orleans, Genesee, Niagara and Monroe counties, said Larry Meyer, FAS director.

The disaster declaration includes the following counties: Albany, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Delaware, Erie, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuler, Seneca, Steuben, Sullivan, Tioga, Washington, Wyoming and Yates, which were designated primary natural disaster areas and farm operators in these counties are eligible for FSA emergency loans, provided they meet other requirements.

Additionally, farm operators in Broome, Cortland, Dutchess, Orange, St. Lawrence, Tompkins, Ulster, Warren, and Wayne counties are also eligible for assistance.

U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced the declaration today.

“After weathering a brutal farming season last year, the USDA’s disaster designation will provide much needed assistance to farmers and growers throughout Upstate New York,” said Senator Charles Schumer. “From corner to corner of the state, I have seen firsthand the aftermath of last year’s severe rain and flooding. Thankfully, this disaster declaration means our Upstate farmers and growers will have access to critical emergency loans and more, at a time when they need it the most.”

USDA offers a variety of programs and services to help communities, farmers, ranchers, and businesses recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding, and other natural disasters. Click here for more information on the federal disaster programs to assist farmers.

“I’m pleased that the USDA has approved natural disaster designations across Upstate New York for counties that suffered extensive damage due to severe weather during last year’s farming season,” said Senator Gillibrand, member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “This will allow FSA emergency loans and other assistance to flow to communities that need it. New York has a strong farming tradition, and it is past time for our farmers to get the help they need to recover. I will always do everything I can to ensure that New Yorkers have the resources to rebuild.”

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