Written by Emily DeVito and WNYT Staff for NewsChannel 13 on April 8, 2020

Restaurants and small businesses are not the only industries taking a hard hit during the coronavirus pandemic. Farmers and growers have also been feeling the impact.

The New York Farm Bureau is asking for immediate help for farmers who are facing very serious economic challenges — as many are right now.

The federal government recently passed the CARES Act. The act provides $9.5 billion in funding for the US Department of Agriculture, and the New York Farm Bureau wants to see that funding be used for direct payments to farms.

They say coronavirus has impacted a diverse range of farmers whether it be — dairy, livestock, crop, maple or even breweries and distilleries.

The Farm Bureau says this money would help offset the fact that most farms may not meet the traditional eligibility requirements for small business administration programs.

“Some of it could be a direct payment to farmers impacted, for a whole bunch of things. If they haven’t been able to maybe sell their milk as much or if they haven’t been able to sell cabbage, it would help offset those payments,” said Lauren Williams, Associate Director of National Affairs, NYFB.

“It could also be the USDA purchasing food products like dairy or other crops to then provide that to food banks which would then distribute that to people in need,” she added.

Some farmers locally have started to donate products to food banks because the orders just aren’t coming in anymore.

The Farm Bureau says shaking up supply chains for farmers is something they’ve been working on.

“Probably the biggest thing, I think, a lot of people have been seeing empty store shelves and farmers having a lot of product they may not be able to move. We’re working with federal officials and state officials to help transition some of those supply chains from restaurant purchasing to more direct, to either grocery stores or you know food banks that are able to directly get those profits out there to individuals,” Williams stated.

According to NewsChannel 13’s media partners at The Post-Star — Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is asking that farmers be made eligible for funding through the coronavirus stimulus bill.

She signed onto a letter to the Small Business Administration and Agriculture Secretary — asking that farms be able to access economic injury disaster loans.

You can read the full article at https://wnyt.com/