Weeks of Flooding Hits Farms Hard; Damages Crops

Weeks of Flooding Hits Farms Hard; Damages Crops

by Steph Machado WILLISTON, Vt. - Whitcomb Farm has 300 acres of corn, and 50 of those acres were damaged by flooding. The farm got about 8 inches of rain per month during May and June. That would be normal for the Amazon rainforest, but not for Vermont.

"After a couple of weeks, the corn, it drowns," said Lorenzo Whitcomb, partner of Whitcomb Farm. "Once it dies, it doesn't come back."

He says it would've been better to get all that rain at once rather than over the course of two months. It left no time for the crop to recuperate.

"The fact that we had a little bit every other day made it a lot worse," Whitcomb said.

It's a dairy farm, and the corn feeds the cattle. Corn is supposed to be "knee high by the 4th of July," but many stalks were very short, or even dead. Other parts of the farm looked untouched, growing quite high.

Governor Shumlin and several agriculturalists toured the farm today to show support.

"It's tough," said Shumlin. "We're urging Vermonters to buy local, support our farmers. This wet weather is creating real obstacles for our agricultural community and we've got to stand behind them."

He says both federal and state aid will assist the farmers, but they need to thoroughly document the damage with photos to get that assistance.

Whitcomb sells his milk throughout Vermont and the Boston milk market, including to Cabot Cheese.

If he doesn't have enough grain come harvest, he'll have a choice: buy expensive grain to supplement his own, or feed the cows slightly less, yielding less milk.

Though he might lose up to 25% of his crop, he's optimistic.

"I have high hopes," he said. "Things will work out. They always do."
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