Emergency Disaster Designation Comes After NY Congressional Letter to Secretary Johanns
Washington, DC –Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Congressman Brian Higgins announced that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Mike Johanns has designated Erie, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by frost from April 25-26 2006. Allegany, Genesee, Niagara, and Wyoming counties have been designated as contiguous counties. This designation comes after Senator Clinton and Congressman Higgins initiated a letter on May 19, 2006, calling on Secretary Johanns to authorize this disaster assistance to ensure that grape producers can recover and can continue to contribute to the overall economic health of the state’s agriculture industry.
“Given everything that our farmers have experienced in recent months, this is a very welcome decision. This disaster assistance will help our grape growers recover from their terrible losses earlier this year,” Senator Clinton said. “As we welcome this assistance for our grape growers, we will also continue to push for critical relief for those farmers in Central and Southern New York who were hard hit by the recent flooding.”
“This disaster designation will enormously help Western New York grape growers who were devastated by the frost in April,” said Congressman Higgins. “Our grape growers and crops have already suffered too much, and I hope that this designation will lead to the beginnings of relief for our area.”
This disaster designation makes farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. FSA will consider each application on its own merit by taking into account the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability.
On April 25th and 26th, freezing weather caused major damage to grape crops in New York State at a time during their growth when buds were extremely susceptible to damage. It is estimated that over 200 grape producers on over 6,400 acres in four Western New York counties – Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Erie, and Niagara – will suffer losses exceeding $9.1 million dollars.