New York Senators call on USDA to Help Farms Affected by Cold Weather
(WENY) - On Thursday, New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand called on the Department of Agriculture to help farms who have suffered crop damage from recent cold weather.
According to Senator Chuck Schumer's office, many vineyards, farms, and orchards across the state have suffered as a result.
The Finger Lakes region sustained the most widespread damage from the frosts with over 9,000 acres affected. Scientists at Cornell are saying that the state as a whole lost up to 15 percent of its apple crop.
"From the Rochester-Finger Lakes to the Capital Region, Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley, New York's vineyards and orchards are the beating heart of our agricultural and tourism economy, but last week's frost has risked freezing the future for many of these family-owned businesses. With apple and grape buds hit by extraordinarily low temperatures in May, the crop losses that farmers across the state are now seeing will have detrimental effects throughout the year," said Schumer. "That is why I am calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stand ready in two key ways: first, by ensuring that direct reimbursements go out quickly to eligible growers with tree and vine damage through the Tree Assistance Program; and second, by preparing all resources and to be ready, if requested, to approve a disaster declaration and assist farmers and growers in the process of reporting losses and damages. We can't let New York's beautiful orchards and renowned wine country be frozen over, and the USDA must do everything in their power to provide swift relief to our hardworking growers."
According to Empire State Development, New York State is the third-largest producer of grapes, grape juice and wine in the United States. In addition, the state is the second-largest producer of apples in the country.
Farmers are encouraged to document damage to their vineyards and orchards so they will have evidence they can use to support any disaster claims they would like to submit.