Farmers dealt a blow by Mother Nature

Resilience – it’s what keeps a farmer’s head above water, one local producer says, and it’s what has helped them recover from the flooding that overran the Chenango, Susquehanna and Unadilla river valleys one year ago.

On its own, Guilford dairy farmer Terry Ives says the flood was unprecedented but not devastating – in most cases. Rather, he contends it was the combination of last June’s losses, high fuel costs, and record-low milk prices that pushed farms to the brink.

“The flood was substantial in terms of the inconvenience of it,” says Ives, whose family owns and works roughly 200 acres in the hard hit areas of Unadilla and Otego. “But I think farmers are resilient and they take it in stride.”

Around 40,000 acres of farmland was submersed by water, according to Chenango County Farm Service Agency Director Robert Almeter, and an estimated $8 million worth of crops from 132 farms county-wide were destroyed. Emergency funding totaling $150,000 is being distributed by the agency to 15 applicants, the majority of whom are in the southeast corner of the county. Based on those applications, there were only 300 acres permanently lost.

“It was lousy timing,” said Almeter, pointing to the preexisting economic factors and crop devastation. “Unfortunately, that’s the cost of doing business if you live in a flood plain.”

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