Federal aid is welcomed option to farmers struggling due to the drought

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LEROY, N.Y. (WIVB) – Dale Stein’s family has owned Stein Farm for the past 60 years. He says they haven’t seen a drought like this in decades. “We’ve had droughts before, but not from the very beginning in spring, right through till harvest.”

The Stein family runs a dairy farm in Leroy, where the county is still in an extreme drought.

He harvests 25 thousand acres of crops used as feed for his cows, but the drought has diminished it significantly.

“We’re looking at on average about a 45 to 50 percent loss across all of our feeds.”

As a result, the family has to buy a lot more feed. “We are contracting with other farms to buy feed and have them grow it for us. We’ve contracted for 500 acres extra, above ours,” Stein said.

He’s also buying vegetable buy product every day to feed his cows. He has 2 thousand of them. Altogether, Stein is paying $25 thousand a month for extra feed.

“About $300 thousand that we’ll end up having to pay extra for the year, to get us to the next harvest.”

The drought has caused similar or even worse issues for feed and dairy farmers across the state. That’s why more than one-third of the counties have been declared natural disaster areas. As a result, federal aid is available.

“It will be a big benefit for a lot of farms. I anticipate a lot of farms applying.”

Farmers who’ve lost at least 30 percent in crop production or livestock can apply for the emergency loan program. If approved, they’ll get a low-interest loan. They just have to reach out to our local farm service agency to get the proper forms to fill out.

“Nobody wants to see their next door neighbor or yourself have to sell out. We’re all family farms,” Stein said. “We’re pretty close-knit. You do what you can to help your neighbor.”

The Farm Service Office in Genesee County is located at 29 Liberty Street, Suite 4 in Batavia. The office number is 585–343–9167. The Farm Service Office in Erie County is located at 50 Commerce Way in East Aurora. The office number is 716-652-1400. Here’s a link with more information about the Emergency Loan Program: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/FactSheets/2015/emloanpr_mar2015.pdf

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