ALBANY - After an unusually harsh winter, grape growers received good news.
Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, applauded the United States Department of Agriculture's official disaster declaration on Tuesday. The declaration will allow hundreds of grape growers in 19 upstate counties, including Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany, to be eligible for federal emergency loans and assistance.
Reportedly, state farmers believe vineyards have sustained the worst damages in 20 years and that federal assistance will be necessary to cover losses.
"Farmers continually face uncertainty due to weather conditions and are forced to contend with unpredictable cold snaps year in, year out," Young said. "This important declaration will allow our grape farmers to receive the critical federal assistance that will allow them to recover from the losses and move forward."
According to an estimate by Cornell Cooperative Extension, hundreds of farmers could lose up to 90 percent of their crops. Area farmers will not know the full extent of their crop damage until this summer.
"Because of the importance of the wine and grape industry to our entire economy, the damages they've suffered will have a far-reaching impact," Young said. "It is critical that we vigorously support them during this difficult time."
In New York, the wine and grape industry is worth $4.8 billion.