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NY Farm Bureau: ‘No farm untouched by pandemic’

Sixty-five percent of farmers in New York State say their business has been negatively or very negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to the New York Farm Bureau, which conducted an informal survey of more than 500 of its members.

Bureau President David Fisher said in a virtual news conference that 43% of farms have lost sales during the pandemic.

"No farm was untouched by the pandemic or the economic fallout. Most of us have had to deal with price drops and supply issues,” he said, "but on the flip side, some farms that can direct market to their customers were able to adapt quickly and take advantage of customer demand.”

Ulster County farmer Sara Dressel-Nikles says “ridiculous” heat has also negatively impacted farms.
Credit New York Farm Bureau

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Fisher, who is a dairy farmer, said his biggest concern hasn’t been the price of milk or shipping issues. He said his main concern has been the health and safety of employees and family.

More than half the farmers surveyed said they are somewhat or very concerned about the mental health of a family member, friend of neighbor.

Sarah Dressel-Nikles said there are four generations on her farm in Ulster County. She said they’ve received plenty of community support, but as a family they’ve learned to take the occasional step back from the business of farming.

"We always try to make sure that we do take time to exist as a family unit, and I think a lot of farms are doing that right now, a lot of introspective thinking like that,” she said.

Director of Public Policy for the Farm Bureau, Jeff Williams, said owning and operating a farm in a normal year is extremely stressful. He said farmers need support in many ways and mental health is one of the top ones.

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