Monday, June 6, 2011

Vermont farmers debilitated by floods hope for federal relief

Eric Blokland in …With wetter-than-average spring flooding in many parts of Vermont before the most recent storm, farmers around the state are debilitated by mud, lost crops and inaccessible or damaged fields. Bob Paquin, state director of the Farm Service Agency, says that federal aid is already coming in, and he expects the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare some or all of Vermont an agricultural disaster area shortly. “It’s probably the latest year in terms of being able to get on the fields that we’ve seen in a long, long time,” said Paquin. “This is more widespread: that’s one of the things that’s quite different this year.”

Big snows in March coupled with record rains in April and May took a cumulative toll and continued flooding mires damage assessments. Paquin said it’s not possible to “see the damage if it’s under water.”

The Farm Service Agency will provide on-the-ground reports to the USDA, and while federal assistance will provide aid throughout the summer, it will be fall before the overall cost of the flooding on Vermont’s farms is determined; the agency must have data from the harvest to allocate assistance.
A Sluggish Spring

Near the top of Beckley Hill in Barre Town, long-time grower Alan LePage hasn’t visited some of his low-lying fields in over a week. “I can’t look at it,” he said on a recent afternoon when temperatures in the high 80s had little effect on water pooling between his raised beds….

A devastated trailer park after a 1998 flood in Vermont, FEMA photo

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