BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — With COVID-19 having unprecedented effects on New York State’s economy, the New York State Legislature convened a hearing on May 13 th regarding the federal response to the impact on small businesses across the state. The first-in-history virtual hearing was co-hosted by 12 committee chairs from the New York State Assembly and Senate, including Agriculture Chairs Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Jen Metzger.
“It was important for us to hear directly from the small businesses that have borne the brunt of the ongoing pandemic,” said Assemblywoman Lupardo. “COVID-19 has really brought to light the importance of our agricultural industry, along with the many challenges they face. While farming and food production were designated as essential industries, certain markets, like schools and restaurants, were either eliminated or severely diminished overnight. Paired with supply chain interruptions and new workplace safety regulations, this sector of our economy has been upended. The groups that testified highlighted the importance of agriculture to the state and national economy and the need for a strong response from our partners at the federal level.”
Senator Jen Metzger said, “As testimony at the legislative hearing demonstrated, federal programs to help small businesses during this challenging time were designed to be one-size-fits-all, but farm businesses have unique needs that set them apart from other types of small businesses. Some of the kinks were worked out in the second round of funding for small business loan programs to better support our farms, but much more needs to be done to bolster federal assistance to agriculture, including more robust direct payments and support for state programs, like Nourish NY, that support our farms while simultaneously addressing the growing food insecurity that many New Yorkers are experiencing.”
Representatives from the New York Farm Bureau, Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Farm Credit East each testified before members of the Legislature. All witnesses testifying on the farm economy recognized efforts the federal government has taken thus far, but emphasized that more will still need to be done to help with the long term effects on the industry. Specifically, concerns regarding the lack of direct payments to farms thus far, restrictions on how much funding individual farms can receive, the complexity of recent federal assistance programs, and potential workforce issues from the H-2A program were all discussed.
“We are grateful to Assemblywoman Lupardo, Senator Metzger, and their colleagues for highlighting the impacts of COVID-19 on small businesses, including agriculture in New York State, said Jeff Williams,” Director of Public Policy at New York Farm Bureau. “It is clear that the legislature is concerned about the prospects for maintaining our agricultural and rural economies, while at the same time protecting our food supply. We look forward to working with Assemblywoman Lupardo and Senator Metzger to ensure that farms receive the critical support they need to survive this tough time.”
–Chris Whalen,Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo