by Guy Page
Vermont farmers stunned by a late May frost destroying $10 million of crops suffered a second major blow when this week’s floodwaters inundated their crops and closed roads, Vermont Agency for Agriculture and Food Markets Secretary Anson Tebbetts said at a Scott administration press briefing today.
Dumping milk – The Agency of Agriculture website states that Vermont dairy farmers cut off from milk hauling trucks are being forced to dump their milk into manure pits. Dairy farmers have limited milk storage capacity and must dump milk if the milk truck can’t make its daily or every-other-day visit. Tebbetts said today, “that problem is not as bad as it could have been” but there are still pockets of cut off farmers.
State workers have done great work clearing Rte. 2 access to the Cabot milk processing facility, Tebbetts said. He also praised farmers for climbing on their tractors and repairing local roads themselves.
Looking tired, his face drawn, the normally cheerful ex-TV anchorman delivered the bad news: “It is clear the losses will be catastrophic. Excessive flooding and silt has destroyed a large share of our produce” and animal feed crops.
Hay supply will be a problem, Tebbetts said. Much was lost, and it’s unclear whether another crop is likely.
Consumers will feel the farmers’ pain, Tebbetts said: “There is a ripple effect” that “will affect our food systems and food security.”
But consumers can help, too.
“This is the time to support farmers” by attending farmers’ markets, buying local in stores, and buying online, Tebbetts said.
Montpelier’s farmers market tomorrow morning has been moved uphill to the College of Fine Arts green off East State Street.
The May freeze cost Vermont produce growers $10 million and Congress must act to fund support, Tebbetts said. As for long-term farm viability being harmed by the one-two punch – it’s too early to tell, he said.
Other July flood updates:
Last night’s storm didn’t cause flooding, but it did knock out power, especially in Rutland and Addison counties. Total power outages statewide peaked at 14,000 last night and are down to 3,500 this morning.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttegieg will visit Vermont Monday “to talk about how we rebuild and recover” the state’s transportation infrastructure.
President Biden last night approved the disaster relief request. Details will be released soon by the Scott administration.
Don’t swim in or drink floodwaters, Health Commissioner Mark Levine reminded Vermonters. If you’re cut, beware infection and consider a tetanus shot booster.
If your house was flooded, assume your house has mold. For more info on cleanup, go to HelpVermont.gov.