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US Congressman Bill Owens
US Congressman Bill Owens

Federal legislators introduce bill to bring more aid to farmers affected by Irene

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US Congressman Bill Owens, with several other New York legislators, has introduced a bill to replenish two federal funds that help farmers rebuild after natural disasters.

The "Post-Irene Emergency Farm Aid Act", is also sponsored by US Representatives Chris Gibson, Maurice Hinche, and Paul Tonko...and Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gilibrand. It calls for 10 million dollars to go to the Farm Service Agency's emergency conservation program, and the Emergency watershed protection program.

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Reported by

Nora Flaherty
Digital Editor, News

Owens says those programs’ coffers have been emptied by recent natural disasters, and are now down to about $2.5 million:

"The 10 million that we’re asking for is to really replenish that fund so it’s available when farmers in NY make applications for this program."

The funding for the two programs won’t be for New York’s use only, but Owens says he and his colleagues think $10 million will be enough to cover claims related to damage from Tropical Storm Irene. Owens says farmers can apply for funds from those programs to deal with a specific set of needs:

"It will help specifically farmers repair damage to their specific property as opposed to loss of income from crops. This is a limited program, we have other programs from the USDA, Small Business, and FEMA that will help them with those other needs."

The aid can be used to repair farmland and carry out conservation measures, so land can continue to be used for agricultural production. New York farm bureau president Dean Norton told the associated press that if the bill passes, it will go a long way toward restoring fertile soils that Irenes floods washed away.
Getting aid from the two federal programs doesn’t preclude farmers getting any other kind of aid from the federal or state governments.

Owens advises farmers carefully document damage to their property. He also suggests they get in contact with FEMA for more information about this aid—and to make sure they’re applying for all the kinds of aid for which they might be eligible.

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