New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today called for additional relief funding for New York’s dairy farmers. In a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Perdue, the Commissioner thanked the agency for taking action to address the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on agriculture, but also urged clarification on the details of the recently released Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Following a review of the CFAP, the Department identified funding disparities for the dairy industry and expressed concerns with the proposed direct payments to dairy farmers. As a result, the Commissioner is urging the USDA to provide additional direct emergency assistance for New York dairy farmers.
Commissioner Ball said, “The CFAP provides critical dollars to assist in the purchase of agricultural products that will then be provided to our food banks, which will build on our Nourish NY initiative. However, after reviewing USDA’s projections of losses for several agricultural sectors and the actual payments to be made to New York dairy producers, I am concerned about the effectiveness of the CFAP in providing sufficient direct relief to the dairy industry. New York’s dairy industry is our largest agricultural sector and we need to ensure we are doing all we can to make sure our dairy farmers are receiving the help they need. Adjustments should be made to the CFAP to resolve this funding gap.”
Read the full letter, which outlines the analysis conducted by the Department.
On April 27, Governor Cuomo announced the launch of Nourish NY, a new initiative that provides $25 million in funding to New York’s food banks and emergency food providers so they can purchase produce and dairy products from New York’s farms and processors.
The Department of Agriculture and Markets continues to work to assist the agricultural industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many sectors of the agricultural industry, including New York’s dairy farmers, have faced extreme economic difficulties with the loss of wholesale markets, such as schools and restaurants, and uncertain consumer demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 13, Commissioner Ball sent a joint letter with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to the USDA urging support for New York’s dairy farmers and requesting immediate emergency relief funding.
A second letter was sent to the USDA on April 17 asking for direct assistance on behalf of the entire agricultural sector adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including recommending a block grant opportunity, and payments to specialty crop, horticultural, floricultural growers, and equine operations who have also lost their markets.