U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer wrote a letter on Monday to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue asking him to release $9.5 billion in emergency federal farm aid that was passed in the most recent federal stimulus package. 

Dairy farms statewide have been forced to dump between 25 million to 35 million pounds of milk from decreased demand from school meals, restaurants and a slowdown in global trade, Schumer’s office said. There have also been workforce shortages at processors due to employees testing positive for COVID-19. 

“In good times, New York farmers work long hours on tight margins but in the midst of a global pandemic, they are losing revenue streams, suffering huge financial losses and being forced to discard their products during a time when we need a reliable food supply," Schumer said. 

New York is home to more than 4,000 dairy farms, the fourth largest producer of milk and the largest producer of yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream. Dairy farms, speciality crops and local farmers are all some of the hardest hit in the agricultural sector. 

This includes farms that have "you pick" operations, growers that rely on farmers markets and maple producers that are impacted by the cancellation of events such as the New York State Maple Weekend. 

The latest coronavirus federal stimulus package, the $2 trillion CARES Act, designates $9.5 billion to the agricultural sector. The money has not yet been released to the over 33,000 farms in the state to help balance some of this loss in revenue. 

"New York farmers are experiencing massive economic losses due to reduced demand from restaurants, disruptions in global trade, school closures, and emergency orders that have idled other industries," Schumer said. "Farmers are essential businesses who need our support to continue growing food during this crisis; otherwise, we risk our food security long after the pandemic has passed."

Wisconsin farmers also sent a letter to federal agriculture officials last week asking him to release these funds to farms across the country.