Farmers in southwest Wisconsin may not know for a while the total financial damage caused by weekend weather. Thunderstorms and two tornadoes hit Lafayette County Friday night bringing baseball-sized hail driven by winds of up to 65-miles-an-hour. A snow-plow had to clear the roads of hail.
Sheriff Scott Pedley says he's never seen crop damage so bad in his 20 years in office. Pedley also says at least 50 homes were damaged, and the hail dented two squad cars.
Ted Bay, UW Extension Ag Agent agrees the extent of the damage was massive.
"We've had severe storms like this in the past but they were fairly localized and this being the most severe for Lafayette County is possible," says Bay.
The crops expert says the harm to fields was "spotty" with some field suffering severe damage but other parts of the property only minimally so. Other farmers crops were 100-percent ruined while some producers may not know the total loss suffered until harvest.
Bay adds that dairy farmers, already facing a tough year of low prices, are facing yet another challenge from the storm. In some places the containers holding feed were damaged, a product that has to be replaced immediately.
The county wants federal disaster aid. County Board Chairman Jack Sauer says over 20-thousand acres of corn and soybeans were damaged in what he calls the most agriculture-dependent county in Wisconsin. Agriculture provides nealy 3,000 jobs for the county with with nearly $309 million in economic activity.