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W.Va. still calculating June flood damage to farmers
By JANE W. GRAHAM
(Sept. 20, 2016) The cost of flood waters that rolled off West Virginia mountains and hills in the central and southern parts of the state June 23 in what many called a 1,000-year flood is still undetermined although those connected to the tragedy are hard at work trying to understand the whole loss.
The major disaster caused severe flooding, loss of life and damage in many of the state’s communities and industries including agriculture.
Workers in the two main agencies that come to the aid for farmers in theses cases, Cooperative Extension and the Farm Service Agency are still working to get a handle on the losses to farming in the Mountain State.
Rick Snuffer, head of the FSA effort, said in a Sept. 12 telephone interview that he has staff members working with people affected by the flooding to see what they need.
He said he hopes to have totals by mid to late-October.
Lisa Jones with West Virginia University Extension spokesperson said Extension is still actively involved in the field.
Snuffer did have some good news to report. He noted that only about a dozen head of livestock was lost, according to reports to his agency.
Snuffer attributed this to cattle being in pastures on high ground and not grazing along river bottoms.
He said his agency has received tentative approval from the federal Emergency Conservation Program for $3 million to help farmers.
The final approval is dependent on completion of the assessment of damage.
t will be dispensed through county FSA committees. He said he hopes this can be done in 30 to 45 days after approval.
Other federal funds are being sought as well, Snuffer said.
A report from FSA in early July showed some measure of damage in 31 of the state’s 55 counties and included 5,300 farms. The early estimates showed: $1.7 million in loss or damage to corn; 1.6 million in loss or damage to hay; $500,000 in loss or damage to pasture; $1.2 million loss or damage to farm buildings; $60,000 loss or damage to farm machinery
Jones also noted damage had been reported to farm fencing in 26 counties.
Ben Tuckwiller, president of the Greenbrier County Farm Bureau said one of the biggest losses is one that was not readily visible, the loss of nutrients for the corn crop.
Tuckwiller was getting ready to harvest corn in a couple days after a telephone interview.
He said the rains had washed the nitrogen out of the corn fields so he was looking forward to a smaller corn crop than he had planned to harvest.
He said the hay crop in Greenbrier County is okay but noted the weeds have become a problem.
He said it is the worst weed crop in years.
Snuffer said FSA has set up a procedure that will allow people who need hay to receive it from those who want to donate some to the relief effort.
So far, the need for hay has not been determined because hay is still being harvested and losses studied. People wanting to be added to either list should call his office at 304-376-3467.
He praised those who called and wanted to bring hay immediately to meet any emergency needs.
“The people in Virginia have been awesome,” Snuffer said.
Right now, the agency cannot accept donated hay because it does not have any place to store it, he said. When the need is established, if there is one, possible donors will be contacted.