New York State farmers suffered a devastating double whammy over the last month when uninvited guests Irene and then Lee tore through the upstate and Hudson Valley regions leaving heartbreaking wreckage in their wake. It is clear we haven’t begun to truly understand the extent of the damage from either the economic or ecological perspective. According to the American Farmland Trust, “New York state has lost an estimated $45 million in crops and livestock and suffered damage to approximately 145,000 acres of farmland.”
If there is a silver lining to this disaster it is that a spotlight is now shining on our New York State farms and perhaps this will lead to greater recognition of agriculture as the important economic engine it is, and to farmers getting the support they need to run viable and sustainable businesses.
It was good news that Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly announced a $15 million Agricultural and Community Recovery Fund intended to help farmers and rural communities rebuild, but it’s hard to believe that will be more than a drop in the proverbial bucket. Darrel Aubertine, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets, has released $5 million to begin the rehabilitation of farmland damaged by the flooding. “The land is the farmer’s greatest resource,” said Aubertine, himself a farmer and former state senator.
The outpouring of public support for farmers has been heartwarming. The following are some links to upcoming events like Dine Out Irene where NYC and other restaurants will donate 10% of sales to farmers badly hit by the hurricanes. Please feel free to tell us about others.
The Valley Table has updated information on the diverse array of flood benefits being held throughout the region this fall, as well as a listing of the Hudson Valley restaurants participating in Dine Out Irene on Sunday, September 25, 2011.
Hudson Valley Food Network has started a forum for requests of help from farmers, for those in need of food, and for those who wish to help local farmers. They also list regional fundraisers to support local farms.
Taste of the Catksills Festival — to be held in Delhi in the Catskills on October 8 and 9 — hopes to raise awareness and money for flood relief. The Delhi Fire Department will be collecting donations for local distribution.
Watershed Post continues to be a terrific news source for and about the Catskill region with updated information about storm resources and relief sites and a detailed list of ways to support the Catskill area farmers.
Hudson Valley Seed Library will be donating 25% of all sales the month of September to farm aid for small farmers who lost their crops to Irene and Lee. The Seed Library is particularly worried about the challenges for sustainable and organic farms that have lost significant topsoil or are downstream of larger farms that might use chemicals.
Pure Catskill has teamed up with other groups to launch the Catskill Farmers Flood Relief Fund. To find an upcoming event check their website.
Food Systems Network NYC continues to update relief information for farmers throughout New York State.
GrowNYC says that 80% of Greenmarket farmers have been impacted by the recent storms. Its site has lists of affected farms and resources for impacted farmers, as well as information about the Greenmarket’s Hurricane Relief Fund and other ways to help.
The Dyson Foundation is offering emergency funding to Hudson Valley not for profit organizations — including farm-focused groups — with storm-related damages and losses.