Tebbetts: Flooding in our Green Mountain State

by Anson Tebbetts, Vermont Secretary of Agriculture

We all know the story.  We have seen the images. We have witnessed the heartbreaking pictures of water tearing through our cities, towns, and villages, uprooting our roads and bridges, flooding our farms, and destroying our crops. This tragic event follows closely on the heels of a hard freeze many of our farmers experienced in May.
It is too early to fully describe or even estimate damages, but it is clear losses will be catastrophic and our farmers, small businesses and agricultural producers will need help. We expect that the excessive flooding and silt will destroy a large share of our produce and livestock feed. In our hilly State, some of our most fertile farmland lies in river valleys. Countless fields of corn, hay, vegetables, fruit, and pasture were swamped and buried.
Vermont’s growing season is short, and a historic flood in the heart of our limited window to grow food and crops is particularly devastating.  Many crops cannot be replanted, and losses will not be effectively recovered or mitigated prior to our early fall harvest. 
Farming is challenging and rewarding but heavy losses of agricultural products or feed will put many at risk.  There is a ripple effect. The disruption to our farms may disrupt our regional food system and our food security.  The widespread flooding, we suffered throughout Vermont this week is among the worst of the last century, and it arrived in the heart of our growing season. 
So, what’s next, farmers are already cleaning up, calculating their losses, and preparing for the fall and winter. The work will not stop.
We want our farmers, producers and nurseries to document their losses. There will be a time we will need that information to present to our federal partners including FEMA and the United States Department of Agriculture.
We encourage farmers to visit our webpage or any of our social media channels. We have put together a packet of resources that may help farmers navigate the many issues they face. Again, That information can be found on the Agency of Agriculture’s homepage.
What can the public do? This is the time to support your farmers. Maybe it’s checking on your neighbor to see if they need a hand with a chore or an errand. Maybe it’s attending a farmer’s market or buying meat, cheese or produce from a farm stand. Or maybe you could donate to a fund that’s focused on farmers. There are many.
Farmers are rugged, hard-working, creative, darn tough, curious and kind. They love their land, but they are hurting like the thousands of Vermonters who have lost their homes or businesses.
Farmers feed us…and will continue to feed us….Let’s do our part to support them as we navigate this historic event with them.

The author is the Vermont Secretary of Agriculture.

Categories: Commentary

2 replies »

  1. FEMA = Forget Even Minimal Assistance!
    FEMA is a bloated bureaucratic cesspool that exist strictly as a make work program for those who can’t make it in the private sector.
    Having lived thru more major flood events than I can count on both hands and feet.
    As bad as this is there are no flood victims only those who ignored mother nature at their peril period.
    Floods happen it’s not anthropogenic climate flavor of the week disaster, it just happens it is the way of things.
    Farming is a risky business I grew up on a farm and farmed myself many years when I was younger.
    Those that learn to be cautious with time & money survive the rest get foreclosed.