MARION, NY (WROC) — Members of the State Senate and Assembly are fighting for area farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to provide added funds, avoid dumping, and get products to the table.
“Our sheep market is done. You can’t have an Easter market for lambs in June,” sheep farmer Harold Boomhower said.
Boomhower and his wife Collen have 80 animals on their pasture in Marion right now. They usually have about 35 this time of year. The extra sheep means more feed and added labor, but Harold says they’re fortunate compared to other farmers.
“Our lambs can stay here and continue to grow and we can continue to hope down the road we can sell them,” he said.
Boomhower said with dairy and produce farmers, some have had to dump up to a quarter of their product during COVID-19 due to low demands. With restaurants and schools closed, farmers are taking a serious hit.
“It’s a learning curve for all of us, and I think we’re going to get there, but right now it’s a little tough,” Assemblyman Brian Manktelow, (R-Dist. 130) said.
Manktelow has thrown his support behind the draft stimulus package, “No Farms, No Food 2020”. He said it will assist those who have had to dump large amounts of their product during the pandemic. “We need to help not only our dairy farmers, but all of our farmers,” he says.
Senator Pam Helming (R-54th Dist.) has been working with farmers to find outlets for their products and to avoid waste. She said some progress is already being made in added marketplaces and distribution. “And now some farmers, our local farmers, are actually able to not only donate, but also to get paid,” Helming said.
The Boomhowers said they, and their fellow farmers, will hopefully pull through. They just hope Albany knows that added costs and wasting product can’t go on.
“The farmers are out there every day and it’s very discouraging when you’re producing a product, milking a cow and you know you have to pull the plug on that tank, and that milk’s got to go down the drain,” Boomhower said.