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Feds call summer drought a ‘natural disaster’ for farmers in FLX

Record-breaking drought has prompted the United States Department of Agriculture to designate 15 counties in New York ‘natural disaster areas’.

The department says that the natural disaster classification was prompted due to ‘losses caused by a recent drought’. The 15 counties included in the classification include, Cayuga, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wyoming and Yates.

The USDA’s full-statement can be read below:

“Our hearts go out to those New York farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling New York producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Aug. 29, 2016, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include the Emergency Conservation ProgramLivestock Forage Disaster ProgramLivestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their 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.

Even with soaking rains over a week ago, which resulted in an inch or more of precipitation for most of the region – it did little to combat the drought – classified now as ‘extreme’. No water conservation measures have been instituted in the Finger Lakes region, but the future remains very uncertain as another two weeks of dry, warm weather is expected.

For the latest local forecast visit the FingerLakes1.com Weather Center.

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