Assemblyman Jake Ashby (R,C,I,Ref-Castleton) signed a joint letter with his Assembly Minority colleagues to urge President Donald Trump, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, U.S. Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer for the federal government to act in providing relief to New Yorks agricultural industry. Sales for agricultural products, especially dairy, have plummeted because restaurants and other food operations have had to limit or cease operations as part of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Just like our small business owners, family farms are a critical part of our communities and economy, and they are struggling in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. Farmers are essential workers and havent stopped working to keep our families fed, but demand is not where it was before this emergency, said Ashby. Despite agricultures importance to our emergency response and our economy as a whole, farms have, glaringly, been left out of major relief measures passed in Washington. I urge the president, the Department of Agriculture, the Small Business Administration and Congress to act and help New York farmers.
Agriculture is a significant industry in the New York economy, generating more than $5 billion annually, with dairy alone contributing half of those sales. The Assembly Minority Conference provided a number of recommendations which would be helpful to the farming industry:
- The USDA should ensure that New York receives the largest portion of the $2.2 trillion in funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. New York is the hardest-hit state in the nation by COVID-19 and a leader in the dairy industry it is strategic for the nation to invest in this states recovery;
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) should declare farm and agricultural businesses as eligible for the $10,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan provided for in the CARES Act;
- The federal government must provide flexibility in farm loans announced by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and access to credit for the duration of the pandemic and economic recovery;
- Congress must enact an additional stimulus package providing 100 percent federal reimbursement of monies lost to New York farmers that is not covered by the CARES Act and lasting at least 90 days after the present emergency period has expired;
- The federal government should ensure that the H2-A visa program continues to operate;
- The list of agricultural items should be expanded to include dairy products for the Farmers Market Nutrition Program; and
- The federal government should reimburse the state for any revenues lost by actions designed to reduce costs and regulatory burdens on the agricultural industry.