Wednesday, August 1, 2012
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WASHINGTON DC – With farmland across upstate New York in the grip of a summer drought that is starving production from crops that are still recovering from a late spring freeze and last year’s back-to-back tropical storms, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today called on leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to include New York State in any disaster relief program in the 2012 Farm Bill.
“For New York State’s economy to grow, we need our farms to thrive,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Still recovering from last year’s back-to-back natural disasters and a late spring frost, this drought is just the latest drain on our farmland’s productivity – costing our state even more crops. America has always stood by those who are suffering and helped them to rebuild. And we need to continue standing by New York’s farmers so they can get back to business, and keep our agricultural industry on the move.”
“From the extreme floods to the damaging frost to the current drought, the past year has exposed how vulnerable New York’s farmers are to the will of Mother Nature,” said Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau President. “Not having the 2012 Farm Bill in place before the current one expires only adds to the uncertainty for our farmers and prevents the implementation of a critical, new safety net that will help ensure family farms in New York keep providing the healthy, local food people want. New York Farm Bureau appreciates Sen. Gillibrand’s work to secure disaster assistance for our farmers who will need it following a difficult 12 months.”
The ongoing drought and extreme heat is stunting growth for a range of crops, reducing milk production at dairy farms, and burdening farms with the costs of setting up new irrigation systems. The drought has also caused animal feed prices to rise as much as 50 percent just in the last three months, adding even higher costs to farmers to stay in business during a season expected to yield a disappointing harvest after enduring one natural disaster after another.
Federal agriculture disaster recovery programs can provide a variety of tools to assist farmers in overcoming the challenges they can face as they work to recover from production and physical losses on their farms and rebuild their business, including financial assistance to compensate for farm losses, low interest emergency loans, and assistance in rehabilitating farm land.