COLUMN: Fruit farmers need federal disaster relief

— While many enjoyed the record warm temperatures March offered, fruit farmers held their breathes and wondered what this would mean as trees began to bud earlier than they could remember. Hard freezes followed in April, which irreversibly damaged this year's crops. Some estimate more than 80 percent of their crops were affected.

My Assembly colleagues and I who represent Upstate and Central New York recently wrote to the Governor, urging him to petition the federal government to declare a federal disaster. With this declaration, crop farmers would then be able to apply for federal relief funds. While these funds will not substitute profits of a plentiful crop, they will help offset losses suffered this year. It is my hope that this federal disaster area can be declared and declared quickly.

Toll increases for truckers poses threat to business

The New York State Thruway Authority is proposing a 45 percent toll hike on commercial trucks with three or more axles. I am opposed to this increase. This is a poor business policy that passes the costs to trucking companies, who will then have to pass their increased costs down to consumers. Not only would this percentage hike increase costs for businesses, but it would likely encourage more truckers to find alternative routes in rural villages and towns, which are not as safe for large vehicles.

Lyme Disease: Know the signs

Reports of tick bites have already been sited this year locally. While not all ticks carry Lyme disease, it's a good idea to protect you and your loved ones from the disease by knowing the signs, which can sometimes be hard to diagnose.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection usually recognized by a distinctive skin lesion, accompanied by headaches, stiff neck, fatigue and possible swelling of the lymph nodes. Not all symptoms are seen in every case, which complicates a diagnosis and sometimes the symptoms present weeks after a bite. While treatable with antibiotics, unrecognized and/or untreated patients may develop complications. Patients treated with antibiotics in the early stage of the infection usually recover rapidly and completely.

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