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Schumer visits flooded farm in Lewis County, urges federal disaster relief

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CASTORLAND — Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., came to Lewis County on Friday afternoon to visit RiverEdge Dairy, one of eight farms in the county affected by flooding this week.

Delvin R. and Sharon Lehman, owners of the 65-head dairy farm at 9069 Ridge Road, said one of the largest problems they face is the threat to their livestock. While the Lehmans so far have not lost any cows, they are not out of the woods yet.

In addition to the stress on their animals, farmers face contaminated well water and spoiled feed.

Mr. Schumer said he will urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue a secretarial disaster declaration for Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

The declaration would make emergency low-interest loans from the USDA available immediately as part of the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, which Mr. Schumer said he supported as a part of the Farm Bill.

In addition, a livestock indemnity program will pay a 75 percent reimbursement for any livestock that dies as a result of the disaster.

“That’s a grant, not a loan,” Mr. Schumer said.

A third benefit, the Emergency Conservation Program, is available to repair damage to farmland caused by natural disasters.

Mr. Schumer said he is pushing for swift action to secure the funding.

“Tell the USDA to get ready,” he said.

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand also petitioned the USDA to declare agricultural disasters in both counties this week.

Along with dairy farms, horse and goat farms were affected by the flooding in Lewis County.

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