Three farmers and a New York Farm Bureau representative shared their thoughts and experiences about the struggling agriculture industry during the recent Tuesday Talks with Tracy hosted by Tracy Mitrano, the Democratic candidate for the 23rd Congressional district. 

“Many farmers are suffering, and it’s much harder than it needs to be, and I am not sure they are getting all the help they need,” Mitrano said. 

Senior Field Advisor Lindsay Wickham, who represents the bureau in Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Schuyler, Tioga, Tompkins and Yates counties, commented the aid package from the United States Department of Agriculture providing $16 billion to buy commodities from producers to donate to food banks is "well thought of.”

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Wickham expressed disappointment over “the very small percentage” allotted for “specialty crops.”

According to Wickham, the money is distributed based on a farm’s loss of market price from January to April. Some growers of specialty crops in the state have yet to see their products included in the package.

New York has established a Nourish New York Program, which amounts to $25 million in commodity purchases to farmers who donate their products.Farmers of different crops have all been affected by the pandemic and could use the help.

In the wine industry, precautions for the pandemic includes the closing of tasting rooms.

“It is hurting, and while we are doing lots of shipping (of wine) it is not replacing the tasting room by any stretch of the imagination,” John Martini, owner of Anthony Road Wine Company in Penn Yan, said.

Martini said he was able to secure public-private partnership funding, which money sourced from taxes or user charges, so he is still able to run his business and have his employees work.

Anthony Marco, a farmer with experience in the dairy industry, said that many local farms have had to dump their milk because they have nowhere to sell it.

Wickham mentioned earlier in the conversation that restaurants and schools are the biggest buyers of milk.

Ann Marie Heizmann Meade, owner of Meadeville Farm Pumpkin Patch in Seneca Falls, said that her business has not been badly affected, because at this time of the year she is getting ready to plant.  

Meade also mentioned that other farmers in her area are struggling for reasons not related to COVID-19.For instance, the closing of an ethanol plant in Fulton has been bad news for farmers of soy and corn.

For more information on the Coronavirus in the Greater Olean area, visit TAPinto Greater Olean's Coronavirus Updates page, which is updated continuously.

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