While farms slowly recover from Tropical Storm Irene and the remnants Lee, Senator Schumer says relief could be on the way as $200 million in federal flood aid will go to job creation projects. He hopes one of those sits in Dutchess County. YNN's John Wagner has more.
PLEASANT VALLEY, N.Y. -- Third generation farmer Paul Wigsten had his vegetable crop destroyed by last year's storms. He can't risk another bad year, so he's closing up shop, for now.
"There's really no comparison with last year to anything that I've experienced in my lifetime," said Paul Wigsten. "I grew up on this farm."
The Wigsten farm lost 90 percent of its crop, worth well more than $60,000. With no help from FEMA and no crop insurance available for vegetables, many farms like this one are lost in the cracks.
"His crops are gone and he still has the loan," said Senator Charles Schumer. "We need crop insurance for our farmers and in the new farm bill, it's there."
"Day late and a dollar short for me," said Wigsten. "There was no money made available to us, at all, zero. And that, you know, kinda hurts."
The Hudson Valley Food and Beverage Cluster is applying for $5 million in competitive flood aid to build a farming center at the Culinary Institute of America. Farmers could join four month training programs to better market and connect with local food and beverage producers like Dannon and Pepsi.
"Now sometimes the farmers don't grow what the companies need so we're trying to get the two together so that there can be real synergies," said Schumer. "It can help our farms and attract more food producing industries to the Hudson Valley."
"It would break down those silos, where companies don't necessarily talk to each other," explained Mike Oates, president of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation.
Shovels could be in the ground as early as this summer, but farmers must now come to terms with the storm's aftermath.
"Farming is a horrible addiction," remarked Wigsten. "The smell of spring is in the air and you just want to go out and get the plow going. It's difficult to know that that's not happening for us this year."