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Irene's Impact Felt At Farms, Farmers Markets

Submitted by Elizabeth Mooney on Wed, 2011-08-31 17:24.

In his request for a major disaster declaration for New York state this week, Gov. Cuomo estimated that farming will take a $45 million financial hit in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

The Hudson Valley is blessed by thick and rich topsoil due to proximity to rivers and streams. The fertility is due to a flood plain. And flood it did.

From the Hudson Valley to areas farther north, along the Mohawk River and Schoharie Creek, New York growers -- many of whose farms have been in the family for generations -- were dealt a devastating blow by the storm, which dumped heavy rain on the region. Some farmers, who were without power and hobbled by disabled equipment, were not even able to assess the full extent of the damage.

State and local officials said the storm destroyed dozens of farms and crippled many others by killing livestock, submerging crops, washing away barns and buckling nearby roads. The onslaught came at the worst possible time, with farmers in the midst of harvesting a year's worth of labor. In some spots, orange orbs were eerily visible underwater during flyovers by state officials -- a vestige of the season's pumpkin crop.

"Clearly, it's not good," said Darrel J. Aubertine, the commissioner of the state's Department of Agriculture and Markets. "I've been involved in agriculture my entire life, and there have been times when the weather has wreaked havoc on livestock and farms, but I don't think I have ever seen anything on this scale here in New York."

Representatives of farmers' markets in New York City said that shoppers would feel the effects throughout the fall. "There will be farmers they've known for years who might not be bringing product," said Michael Hurwitz, director of the greenmarket program at GrowNYC, a nonprofit group.

NYLCV Blog | Filed Under: Land Use,Statewide

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