CASTORLAND Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., came to Lewis County on Friday afternoon to visit RiverEdge Dairy, one of eight farms in the county affected by flooding this week.
Mr. Schumer said he will urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue a secretarial disaster declaration for Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. In St. Lawrence County, the Oswegatchie and St. Regis rivers overflowed their banks, causing extensive flooding in Brasher, around Black Lake and in Gouverneur.
Delvin R. and Sharon Lehman, owners of the 65-head dairy farm at 9069 Ridge Road, said one of the largest problems they face is the threat to their livestock. While the Lehmans so far have not lost any cows, they were not out of the woods yet.
In addition to the stress on their animals, farmers face contaminated well water and spoiled feed.
The declaration would make emergency low-interest loans from the USDA immediately available as part of the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, which Mr. Schumer said he supported as a part of the Farm Bill.
In addition, a livestock indemnity program will pay a 75 percent reimbursement for any livestock that die as a result of the disaster.
Thats a grant, not a loan, said Mr. Schumer.
A third benefit, the Emergency Conservation Program, is available to repair damage to farmland caused by natural disasters.
Mr. Schumer said he is pushing for swift action to secure the funding.
Tell the USDA to get ready, he said.