- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared a disaster in 19 upstate New York counties where the severe winter has caused extensive damage to the region’s vineyards.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer say Wednesday’s declaration is intended to provide relief to grape growers and other farmers. The declaration covers primary areas in Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Oswego and Yates counties. It also includes 14 contiguous counties: Allegany, Cortland, Erie, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tompkins, Wayne and Wyoming.

Farmers and growers will be eligible to apply for federal assistance to help them recover.

The counties included in the disaster declaration include those in the popular Finger Lakes wine region.

The full extent of the winter’s toll on New York’s $4.8 billion grape and wine industry isn’t known yet.

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