Like their brethren in parts of the Mid West, many Northeast farmers suffered through a too wet, too cold spring. Late last week, U.S. Department of Agriculture officially recognized the problem with a disaster declaration.
USDA designated eight counties in central and southern New York as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by excessive rain, flash flooding, high winds, lightning and cooler than normal temperatures that occurred March 1 – June 1, 2011. Another 22 counties in New York, northern Pennsylvania and southern Vermont qualify for the special assistance by virtue of being contiguous counties. "Producers can continue to count on USDA to provide emergency assistance to help get those affected during difficult times," said U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.
New York counties receiving primary disaster status are: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Clinton, Cortland, Ontario, Tompkins, Wayne and Yates counties. Those qualifying as contiguous counties include: Broome, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Erie, Essex, Franklin, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Onondaga, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, and Wyoming counties.
Farmers in the following Pennsylvania counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance by being contiguous: McKean, Potter and Warren counties. Qualifying Vermont counties include: Chittenden and Grand Isle.
All qualified farm operators in the designated areas are eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met. If you're elgible, you have eight months to apply for loans to help cover part of your actual losses.
FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. USDA also has made other programs available to help. Contact your local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.