Saturday, December 16, 2023

Four NY counties designated as primary natural disaster areas

rainstorm in the distance

On December 8, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that four counties in New York State have been designated as a primary natural disaster area by the United States Department of Agriculture due to damage caused by a tornado and excessive rain in July. This designation means that impacted farmers in Clinton, Franklin, Lewis, and Onondaga County may be eligible for assistance, including emergency loans, from the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.

“As climate change continues to drive more frequent and extreme weather events in our state, New Yorkers faced unprecedented levels of rain in July that flooded our communities and devastated crop land,” Governor Hochul said. “This designation will help ensure New York farmers significantly impacted by this summer’s severe weather have access to the resources they need to help rebuild and recover.”

A disaster declaration is based on reporting of crop loss to the federal Farm Service Agency (FSA). The United States Department of Agriculture declared four counties in New York as primary natural disaster areas and an additional 10 counties as contiguous disaster counties. Farmers in the following counties who were impacted by the severe weather event may be considered for FSA emergency loans, provided eligibility requirements are met.

Primary Counties

  • Clinton
  • Franklin
  • Lewis
  • Onondaga

Contiguous Counties

  • Cayuga
  • Cortland
  • Essex
  • Hamilton
  • Herkimer
  • Jefferson
  • Madison
  • Oneida
  • Oswego
  • St. Lawrence

Farmers will have eight months to apply for emergency loans and can do so with their local FSA office.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “This past July was one of the wettest on record in some areas of our state, which was devastating for our farmers who experienced crop losses as a result. The extreme weather events we have been seeing as a result of climate change are causing a significant amount of stress for our agricultural industry—from the May frost event in the Finger Lakes to the tornado and excessive rain across the North Country and Central New York region in July. We encourage our farms to take advantage of the emergency loans available and to continue to report losses to lessen the impacts of these damaging weather events.”

Clinton County Chairman Mark Henry said, “Clinton County is again appreciative of the Governor’s efforts to providing funding to the people of Clinton County due to the flooding events in July. This is particularly good news for farmers, as they recover from any losses they may have suffered. As we all know, farming is a very important economic driver for this State and our County, and I’m grateful that we can support them in any way.”

Franklin County Chairman Edward Lockwood said, “We are very thankful that Franklin County and the adjoining counties are included in this declaration. The impacts to our farmers from the excessive rain this past production season was very difficult. The assistance is welcome from our federal partners and we appreciate all of those agencies locally helping to support our economy.”

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said, “The importance of our agriculture economy and community cannot be understated. The severe weather experienced this summer resulted in significant losses to our local farmers. With this designation, the local agriculture community will have access to critical funding and assistance to aid in their recovery.”

Herkimer County Chairman Vincent J Bono said,“Herkimer County is grateful for the Governor’s continued efforts to offer funding to local farmers who have experienced great losses from recent weather patterns. The USDA Disaster Designation funding aids the recovery to a very important economic driver of this county and the state of NY.”

Today’s announcement comes after the U.S. Small Business Administration made federal assistance available to New Yorkers in Clinton County who were impacted by heavy rains and flooding in July 2023. Residents and businesses in Clinton County are now eligible to apply for low-interest loans to aid in their recovery from this event thanks to a new SBA program that offers additional financial assistance to those in rural areas impacted by disasters. For the first time, New York obtained this declaration under the federal Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities program, which was signed into law this past June.

Under the Governor’s leadership, New York State continues to advance its nation-leading climate agenda. As part of that, several programs are focused on assisting New York farms address the impacts of climate change. The Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program, which recently awarded its seventh round of funding, the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control program, and the Agricultural Environmental Management framework continue to provide solutions in combating climate change and protecting our farmers who face real hardship following the increasing number of severe weather events seen in New York.

Photo at top: Distant rainstorm. Wikimedia Commons photo.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

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