State Senator James L. Seward and New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick H. Brennan today reminded farmers in flood-affected counties to make use of government assistance that may be available to them. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates the dollar loss incurred by farmers in counties affected by recent flooding to be approximately $40 million, which includes crop and livestock losses, as well as damages to structures and land.
"Farmers lost crops, milk pick ups, equipment and buildings," Seward said. "It's critical that they get they help they need to recover."
"The devastation that resulted from the flooding is putting a strain on all residents of the affected area, especially farmers," the commissioner said. "While our farmers try to pick up the pieces, I remind them to take a moment and apply for the various types of assistance available. Every little bit helps."
The commissioner added, "I also encourage farmers to document any and all losses they may have incurred through photographs, invoices and paid bills. Farmers with crop insurance should contact their insurance agents."
To date, 20 New York counties have been designated as Presidential Disaster Areas, within which farmers have experienced severe flooding resulting in significant damages to personal property and economic losses to their businesses. USDA estimates 290,500 acres of crops were destroyed by flooding, along with 28,250 acres of land. Structurally, New York farmers sustained damage to 60 barns, 115 farm structures including silos, and 122 pieces of farm equipment.
President of New York Farm Bureau John W. Lincoln said, "Farmers facing severe devastation from the flooding need significant help in order to recover their losses and sustain their businesses. We are thankful for Governor Pataki and Commissioner Brennan’s efforts, and we will continue to work with our state and federal partners to obtain additional disaster assistance funds."
Three government agencies are currently offering financial assistance for which New York farmers could be eligible: the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (USDA FSA), New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
USDA Farm Service Agency
Farmers who have experienced crop, cropland, livestock or milk losses, should contact their county USDA FSA office. FSA offers a variety of programs to help farmers, including Emergency Loans and the Emergency Conservation Program.
Emergency Loan funds may be used to restore or replace essential property; pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year; pay essential family living expenses; reorganize the farming operation; and refinance certain debts. If funded, the Emergency Conservation Program provides money to rehabilitate farmland damaged by floods. FSA has requested $4 million under this program to aide farmers.
Producers with crops destroyed by the flooding need to notify their FSA office to report the failed crops before replanting new crops. The deadline to report planted acres in disaster declared counties has been extended to Monday, July 31, 2006. At this time, a crop disaster program has not been funded, but this information will help producers if one is approved.
New York State FSA Executive Director Brymer Humphreys said, "I’ve seen the devastated crops and farmland throughout the impacted region. It is gratifying to see neighbors helping neighbors, but farmers also need to take the time to document their losses and contact our offices for any assistance they may need."
Also, farmers who obtained Non-insured Assistance Program (NAP) coverage for their vegetables or hay should contact their local FSA office immediately to report any losses.
Farmers should also check back routinely with their FSA office to report new or additional damages and to learn of any new funding opportunities. To find your local FSA office, go to www.fsa.usda.gov/ny/.
NYS Department of Labor
For immediate operational and/or personal needs, farmers can apply for the State Individual & Family Grant (IFG) Program offered through the NYS DOL. The IFG Program provides up to $5,000 in grants for documented flood losses not covered by insurance or other government programs. The IFG can also cover insurance deductibles on losses covered by insurance.
Individual farm families can apply separately for two grants under the IFG and be eligible to receive both. They can apply for a grant to help offset personal needs, and they can also apply for a grant to help address immediate business needs. Forms are available at www.labor.state.ny.us/grant_info.shtm, by calling 1-888-7-NYS-AID (1-888-769-7243) or by visiting your local disaster assistance service center listed below.
· Binghamton High School, 31 Main Street, Binghamton
· Endwell Fire Station, 3508 Country Club Road, Endwell
· Susquehanna Valley High School, 1040 Conklin Road, Conklin
· Deposit High School, 171 Second Street, Deposit
· Bainbridge Town Hall, 15 North Main Street, Bainbridge
· Walton High School, 47-49 Stockton Avenue, Walton
· Hancock Central School, 67 Education Lane, Hancock
· Sidney Civic Center, 21 Liberty Street, Sidney
· Little Falls Senior Center, 522 East Main Street, Little Falls
· Fonda-Fultonville Middle School, 112 Old Johnstown Road, Fonda
· Anna S. Kuhl Elementary School, 10 Route 209, Port Jervis
· SUNY Campus, Lee Hall, Ravena Parkway, Oneonta
· Livingston Manor Central School, 19 School Street, Livingston
· Owego-Apalachin Middle School, 3 Sheldon Guile Boulevard, Owego
Federal Emergency Management Office
For those farmers who have suffered losses or damage to their primary residence, FEMA can provide assistance, which could include money for temporary housing or to repair damage. Money may also be available for medical bills, household items, clean-up costs, damaged vehicles, and more. To learn more about FEMA assistance, visit www.fema.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).
Commissioner Brennan also reminds farmers who have sustained damage to previously installed environmental stewardship practices that meet specific conservation program standards, to contact their local soil and water conservation district office to complete a damage assessment report. Damage assessment reports can be helpful in obtaining federal disaster assistance for repairing these important environmental management systems.
The 20 New York counties declared as presidential disaster areas include Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Orange, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins and Ulster Counties. Those 20 counties are home to 11,000 farm families and 2.3 million acres of farmland. In 2003, the 20 counties generated $1.16 billion in farm receipts. The 20 counties represent one-third of the state’s agricultural industry from a farm, land and revenue perspective.
For more information on assistance available for farmers affected by flooding, please visit the department’s website at www.agmkt.state.ny.us.