A wet summer that brought several tropical storms and a heavy downpour in Connecticut hit farms hard, destroyed fallen crops and hit the $ 4 billion-a-year agricultural sector.
Ida and Henri flooded nearly 25 acres of Rodger Phillips 300-acre Sub Edge Farm, leaving several areas submerged to 7 feet, killing turkeys and destroying kale, winter squash, squash and other vegetables.
Adding insult to injury, another recent downpour of rain once again flooded Phillips ’farm. The bucolic expanse of open land just minutes from Interstate 84 straddles Avon and Farmington and sits between Thompson Brook and the Farmington River, both of which overflow.
“The farms are completely under water,” Phillips said.
William DellaCamera, who farms more than 100 acres in Branford, said he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years for irrigation.
“I’d rather it dry and I pump water than sit here and watch the rain,” he said. “It takes the air out of you.”
Talking to other farmers, DellaCamera said losses below 30% to 60% are expected.
The state Department of Agriculture has not received detailed farm losses, Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt said. The combined statewide impact of Henri on Aug. 22 and Ida on Sept. 1 and 2 was significant he said. They followed Tropical Storm Elsa in July.
The extremely wet weather pattern has been a return from May and June that are dry and approaching drought status, Hurlburt said.
“Since July it’s been a flood,” he said.
Joan Nichols, executive director of the Connecticut Farm Bureau, said farms in low-lying areas along rivers had extensive damage, with some reporting “harmful losses” in squash and squash.
In contrast, he said fruit crops such as orchards and vineyards do well.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a request from Governor Ned Lamont for an agricultural disaster declaration as a result of the damage caused by Elsa. Farmers in Connecticut are eligible for disaster assistance to cover production losses from the hurricane, such as emergency loans.
The declaration of the disaster triggers emergency loans to be added to the Department of Agriculture’s other assistance programs. The agency is still assessing injuries from Henri and Ida, a spokesman said.
Disaster relief doesn’t replace farmers ’income from marketable crops, instead it helps to reduce some losses, Nichols said.
Phillips said his losses reached $ 100,000 and in a gofundme account he asked for $ 40,000 to cover the operations. “People passed by. We got it in a day,” he said.
Three restaurants that work at Sub Edge Farm are helping with the fundraisers scheduled for Oct. 2nd.
Phillips, who with his wife Isabelle has managed the farms for 18 years, also raises chicken and beef in addition to organic vegetables and plants at Sub Edge Farm.
The storms and downpours were clearly different from last year’s drought. By the end of September 2020, the Hartford area had dropped 11 inches of rain from the average, posting only 22 inches since Jan. 1, according to the National Weather Service.
In Hartford this year, total rainfall has doubled to 44 inches since Jan. 1, according to the National Weather Service.
The weather is so much that inevitably it leads to questions about climate change.
“In the last 10 years I’ve witnessed extreme climate,” Phillips said. “We live it.”
He said he is rethinking when to plant in the future and identify areas that are dangerous. And he is dredging ponds to provide space for additional volume.
DellaCamera planted crops in rows in different directions to reduce problems associated with excess water, he said. The new approach worked, reducing the impact of flooding. He raised corn, pepper, eggplant, squash and other vegetables on his farm, called Cecarelli Farms.
Crops fell because of saturated soil and wind, crops were also killed. “The plants were beaten,” which became scarred and infected, he said.
“Because it depends on the weather, farming is always dangerous. But it’s approaching a lost adventure,” DellaCamera said.
“Our chance to do. This is a gamble. I could go to casinos and lose everything at once. This way I expanded it. “
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