Last week Senators Schumer and Gillibrand announced the final passage of legislation to fund disaster recovery efforts, with $40 Million to go to New York State farmers. The legislation, created in response to the wide-spread destruction of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, includes the Gillibrand-Schumer amendment, which directs the $40 Million to New York. The overall recovery funding, as set out in appropriations bills of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Science, Transportation and Housing & Urban Development, totals approximately $2.6 Billion.
Both Senators Gillibrand and Schumer issued public statements reinforcing their commitment to helping New York farmers recover. Senator Gillibrand pointed out that “America has always stood by those suffering from disaster and helped them to rebuild. When our farm families suffer, our whole state and whole economy suffers.” Senator Schumer voiced the sentiment that he shared with Gillibrand, that he is “going to keep fighting to make sure that New York gets its fair share of disaster funding, so that we can get family farms and small businesses back up and running as quickly as possible.”
There are five different areas of funding available for disaster recovery:
Emergency Conservation Program ($123 Million)
This program, coordinated by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, provides technical assistance and emergency funding for farmers and ranchers to repair damaged farmland and to help water conservation measures during droughts. Repair includes such work as removing debris and fixing fences and conservation structures.
Eligibility for this funding requires that the disaster must have created conditions that would impair or endanger the land if left unchecked, must affect productive capacity, and require government assistance to fix. The actual funding is provided in cost-sharing assistance.
Emergency Watershed Protection Program ($216 Million)
The EWP helps to conserve natural resources after disasters by responding to hazards such as clogged or damaged waterways, wind-caused damage, and impaired public infrastructure. It can also go towards protective measures such as conservation of wildlife habitats and water quality. The assistance is provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service in a cost-sharing arrangement.
Federal Highways Administration Emergency Relief Program ($1.66 Billion)
The Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief program funds repairs of federal highways and roadways on federally-owned land. This includes reconstructing roadways and bridges, removing debris, and establishing emergency detours.
Community Development Block Grants ($400 Million)
CDBG funding is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This funding would be used for disaster relief in assisting homeowners and business owners and developing urban flood protection programs.
Economic Development Administration ($200 Million)
EDA funding would provide financial resources and technical assistance for economic development following natural disasters. This also includes development of new infrastructure to encourage economic growth.