Another dry summer for northern Wisconsin, while other counties got too much rain. Donna Gilson with the state Department of Agriculture says it’s been a tough year for farmers in much of the state, so Governor Jim Doyle has requested the U.S. Department of Agriculture declare disasters in 45 counties. “This is the first step towards getting – we hope – some financial aid for farmers in Wisconsin,” explains Gilson.
Crawford, Grant, Lafayette and Monroe Counties were hammered by heavy rains, straight line winds and damaging hail in July — too late for farmers to replant. For the other 41 counties in northern Wisconsin, it’s a story of drought, at a time when costs are rising for the state’s dairy farmers. “Dairy farmers are getting pushed to the edge, and if they are having hay crops that are not doing well, or having to buy additional feed, it’s sort of one more stress on them, and actually is resulting in some farmers culling their herds,” says Gilson. “It is the third or fourth year running for some of these counties, that they have suffered drought conditions.”
A disaster declaration by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack would allow crop producers to qualify for assistance, generally in the form of low-interest loans.