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New York Farm Bureau hopeful USDA emergency aid will provide relief for NY farmers

A state agency representing farmers in New York is hopeful a new federal aid package will provide much-needed relief for farmers hit by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program includes $16 billion dollars for direct support to farmers, and $3.5 billion for a farm-to-food bank program.  

Steve Ammerman with the New York Farm Bureau says that this will include produce, dairy, and meat.

“By getting some of that product out of the market hopefully that will help support commodity prices," says Ammerman. "But more importantly it will also get food into food banks and more places where there’s an emergency need right now.”

He says that many farms have lost customers due to the coronavirus. Dairy farms were hit particularly hard by school closures, and dairy prices have fallen between 30 to 40 percent.

Restaurant closures and decreased operations have also hurt farms in general.

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“This is an important investment into food security into this country," he says. "It’s an important support to make sure we have a viable food system and that farmers can still farm.”

While Ammerman says the announcement offers assurance, details are still unknown.

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.