|
|
|
The Times
  • Flooding means lost fields, profits for farmers

  • Village farmer Carl Degristina walked in his fields, kicking up thick layers of mud caked onto the once usable topsoil.

    “There’s not enough topsoil in Herkimer County to cover what I lost,” he said.

    • email print
  • Village farmer Carl Degristina walked in his fields, kicking up thick layers of mud caked onto the once usable topsoil.
    “There’s not enough topsoil in Herkimer County to cover what I lost,” he said, pointing to a diesel tank that had washed onto a corner of his land. “I don’t know if it’ll produce anything.”
    Broken glass bottles, a snow shovel and other debris still litter the field that borders state Route 5S in Mohawk, a field that this year was being used for soy plants.
    As farmers and agriculture businesses across the Mohawk Valley continue to make repairs and dry out from the heavy rains and bouts of flooding that recently drenched the region, many also are hoping for some state or federal assistance.
    Degristina said he’s one of those hoping for some type of aid, or even a buy out.
    “I don’t know what to do,” he said. “If I think I could probably farm it again, I’d keep it.”
    Officials at the Farm Service Agency in Herkimer County said about 50 people have contacted them about assistance. Numbers for Oneida County were unavailable.
    Donna Purdy, executive director of the Farm Service Agency in Oneida County, said federal assistance hasn’t been made available to farmers yet. “I would just encourage them to continue to report their damage as they see it and as they find it,” she said, urging individuals to contact the agency.
    New York Farm Bureau spokesman Steve Ammerman said they’ve seen a range of issues from flattened wheat and corn fields to partial washouts. “But what’s more common is fields are saturated and there were pondings in some parts of the field,” he said. “Farmers have lost a portion of their crops.”
    Vernon dairy farmer John Havener, of Havener Brothers Farm, said he lost a portion of his corn feed crop after it was flooded on state Route 31. “It washed out a field about 8 feet deep by 20 feet wide and several hundred yards long, right down the middle of the corn field,” he said. “We can’t do anything. We can have less feed, that’s all.”
    Some aid available
    While there isn’t any federal aid for farmers yet, Purdy said those who have crop insurance should notify the appropriate officials immediately.
    Plus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that grants will be made available to business owners, farmers and farm operations in Oneida and Herkimer counties.
    They may be eligible for up to $50,000 in assistance, according to a news release.
    Dana Pohl, who owns a feed mill in Vernon, said he had three feet of water in several of his warehouses on June 28.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We lost about $100,000 in inventory and about $50,000 in repairs need to be done and still need to be done,” he said.
    Pohl said he wasn’t sure what assistance would be available to him, but added he’s been fortunate.
    “Pretty much everything we lost is replaceable,” he said.
    Long-term effects
    For others in the agriculture industry, their losses have longer reaching effects.
    Degristina said crews have been working to rehabilitate Fulmer Creek in Mohawk, which is what flooded his fields on June 28.
    “It’s never going to be the same,” the hay farmer said. “The heavy equipment is going to compress the soil. Besides, you don’t know what’s on the field.”
    On the opposite side of the Mohawk Valley, Havener said his topsoil — the loose, fertile earth needed to grow crops — has been stripped.
    “My intention right now is to plant around it,” he said. “To make it into two different fields because it’s split right down the middle.”
    Ammerman said it’s hard to say what the long-term effects could be without knowing the individual situations.
    “But farmers are resilient people, and we certainly hope the damaged crops or the crops that took a hit are resilient as well,” he said.
      • calendar