Senator Chuck Schumer is coming to the rescue of Finger Lakes grape growers. Schumer will be at Three Brothers Winery in Geneva on Monday at 1PM to call on the USDA to provide disaster assistance for grape vineyards damaged by the severe arctic cold that has affected over half of all grape buds in Upstate New York. Schumer says the full extent of the damage won't be known until spring, but at that point vineyards will need a quick turnaroud in getting government-backed loans and reimbursements so that cash will be available to recover and replant crops for future harvests.
Schumer is urging USDA to expedite relief to the vineyards through the Farm Bill's Tree Assistance Program, which provides reimbursements to growers who suffer extensive vine damage. He also wants emergency loans for those growers who sustained bud damage. Scientists at Cornell are running tests that show up to 50% of buds could be damaged by the extreme weather conditions.