Local farmers suffer damage after snow, agriculture secretary visits to survey options for recovery

Local News

Tuesday Wisconsin’s agriculture secretary visited local farms to see what damages they’re dealing with after the snow storm, but it’s not just broken barn buildings that are causing issues.    

Local farmers are seeing low production of milk from stressed cows, delayed planting seasons and some have had to dump milk because tankers couldn’t get to snowed-in farms.

“When our barn started to go down, my husband, you could see it in his demeanor,” says Amy Zernicke of Zernicke Landstad Dairy. “His actions, everything was just down in the dumps and scared because what are you to do when it happens?”

Jay Vomastic said Saturday, April 14 everything was still intact.

But Sunday morning around 5 o’clock he realized his cows were in danger and the property was falling apart. 

“It’s sad to see years of work and things that your grandfather and father built things up to be where it was,” says Vomastic. “One freak snowstorm and everything is swept away.”

The cows that survived have been under stress which has meant a low production of milk and some have not eaten much since being out in the pasture.

Now they expect their cropping season will be delayed, but right now they are looking at rebuilding.

“First we got to get cleaned up and get the contractors in here to see what we can for rebuilding,” says Vomastic. “Is it going to be easy? Probably not, but the way the farming economy is struggling to begin with is another back breaker for the community that they didn’t need.”

Right now there is not a state program that can compensate farmers for the damages they’ve incurred, but there are other options.

“There are a number of federal programs that we want to base upon the damages to see what might be available and of assistance,” says agriculture secretary Sheila Harsdorf. “Namely there is a livestock indemnification program that might be available to compensate for losses of livestock.”

Vomastic says so far they’re looking at $300,000 worth of damage.

He says his insurance will cover it but may have to be supplemented by loans.

Either way it won’t stop him from farming.

“I guess it’s just like everything with farming you overcome and adapt. I guess we’re pretty resilient people.”

Wednesday Gov. Walker will be in northeast Wisconsin to tour farms.

Harsdorf says about 10 counties have farms that have been heavily damaged.
 

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