Northeast dairy farmers are suffering added expenses this winter after Tropical Storm Irene wiped out feed supplies and a widespread drought has increased the price of hay and other sources of feed.
Vermont dairy farmer Doug Turner told the Associated Press one-third of his corn fields and several bales of hay were destroyed by the flooding brought on by the tropical storm. He has been able to buy 63 bales of hay for $40 each, but suspects he’ll need 75 to 100 bales more. By the end of the year, Turner estimates he’ll spend an extra $6,000 on feed costs.
Several Vermont dairies have closed with high feed and fuel costs and low milk prices making business unprofitable the past few years. The surviving dairies are again feeling the pinch of high feed costs as the drought in southern states has increased the price of hay.
Farmers are looking as far away as Midwest states to feed cows until they can graze fields again in May or June. State officials have encouraged Vermont farmers to test corn for micotoxins which may develop in damp conditions. The University of Vermont Extension recently opened a testing lab to provide quick and free screening of feed.