Storms hit the Midwest hard last week (my Chicago friend had a half dozen trees on his block uprooted!), and farms across the region have been coping with serious losses. It’s especially bad in southwest Wisconsin, where many fields were covered in standing water. And the flooding arrived at the very time when farms in the Midwest make money: August.
The actual damage is still unclear, but the organics sector seems to have suffered disproportionately. Wisconsin has more organic farms than any state except California, and those farms are concentrated in the state’s southwest corner, where the flooding was worst.
Richard de Wilde, an organic farmer at Harmony Valley Farms, estimated his damage last week: “Out of our 100 acres of vegetables, we had easily 30 under water. If that was all a loss, it’s $300,000.”
De Wilde had crop insurance, but he doubts it’ll compensate him fully. In the same Associated Press story, Mark Kastel of small-farms advocacy agency the Cornucopia Institute says much the same thing—that because crop insurance does not necessarily pay the same price as the market, farmers with it might still go under.
Farms that have CSAs, like Harmony Valley, might fare better because customers have already paid up. It’s de Wilde’s worst loss ever and he’s hoping his subscribers will stick by him. “We are very good farmers,” he said. “We are good at working with adversity, but this one is just out of our control.”