Vermont dairy farmers short on animal feed after flooding

Losses, damage exceed estimated $10 million

Vermont dairy farmers are struggling to acquire enough feed for their livestock in the wake of damage done to their hay and corn harvests by Tropical Storm Irene, according to reports.

The August storm flooded 6,000 of the state’s 92,000 acres of feed corn, causing water damage that flattened, contaminated or molded crops. Vermont Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross estimated that crop losses and farm damage exceed $10 million, though a final tally is still being determined. “It’s going to put [farmers] under strain,” said Ross. Most affected farmers will need feed until May or June, when cows can graze again. If they keep their cows in barns year-round, they’ll need feed until next fall.

The state has urged farmers to get their stored corn tested for mycotoxins, which thrive in damp conditions, and the University of Vermont Extension has opened a testing lab to screen feed free of charge. Vermont farmers are sharing their stocks with each other, and those who are short are receiving offers of help from Canada, Maine and New Hampshire.