BECKLEY, W.Va. — Agriculture took a substantial hit from the June 23rd floods in West Virginia. The damage to livestock and crops is starting to be calculated as West Virginia farmers begin to turn their attention away from their flooded homes to survey the costs to their livelihoods.
“I’ve advised everybody to check with their local USDA offices,” said Rick Snuffer, State Executive Director of the West Virginia Farm Service Agency for the United States Department of Agriculture. “We have applied for disaster assistance and will be getting disaster assistance, especially in Greenbreir, Monroe, Summers, Nicholas, and Clay Counties.”
The damages in the impacted counties compiled by the USDA so far show farmers lost about $1.6 Million in corn, $1.4 Million worth of hay, and $100,000 worth of pasture. The damage totals for barns and other farm structures totaled about $1 Million. Farmers lost about 140 head of livestock, which included poultry, cattle, and sheep. The assessment also indicated about 200 miles of fence was destroyed.
“We thought a lot more cattle were killed than what actually were because they were dispersed,” Snuffer said. “The fences were gone, but most of the farmers tell me a lot of those cattle have come back in and we’re not going to see the amount of livestock losses we thought we were going to see.”
The agency is also directing farmers to destroy any products which appeared to have survived the flood.
“Any of this hay and corn which was underwater will have to be destroyed due to the presence of mold and toxins. It can’t be fed to livestock,” Snuffer said. “If you had vegetables, even in a home garden, they’re recommending you not eat those. A lot of this water had a lot of different toxins and raw sewage.”
Most homeowners who incurred damages are seeking reimbursement through FEMA, but Snuffer said any farmer seeking compensation for agricultural losses needed to work through their local Farm Service Agency office.