Farmers across the Eastern Seaboard are still reeling from the damage caused by Hurricane Irene. The hurricane, which swept up the east coast, did significant amounts of damage in coastal North Carolina and New York. New York, which is not typically in the path of Atlantic hurricanes, was particularly hard hit with the state’s multi-billion dollar agricultural industry still struggling to repair the damage by the storm.
New York state officials have estimated the agricultural damage to be around $45 million. In response to the storm, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo created a $15 million fund to help repair damaged farms and compensate farmers whose businesses have suffered. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has stepped in, offering low interest loans to farmers hurt by Irene.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer, however, wants the USDA to do more. In a statement earlier this week, Schumer advocated eliminating interest rates for farmers taking out loans to cover Irene. The current interest for disaster loans is 3.75 percent. According to Schumer, “The biggest banks pay almost no interest on their loans every day — forcing farmers to pay a higher interest rate when they have just been walloped by back-to-back storms is flat-out unfair.”
The USDA has not currently responded to Schumer’s proposal.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer