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Damages to CT farms from freak July flood exceed $20 million in lost sales, a figure that will rise

Flooding causes farmers to lose their crop along the Connecticut River in Rocky Hill and Glastonbury, CT. (Dave Wurtzel/Connecticut Public)
Dave Wurtzel
/
Connecticut Public
Recent floods have cost Connecticut farmers more than $21-million in sales revenues more than 1500-acres of crop.

The fallout from a series of flooding and excessive rainfall events that hit Connecticut just as farmers were set to begin summer harvests continues to grow.

As of July 21, the state Department of Agriculture said 27 farmers have submitted crop loss reports to their agency — encompassing more than 1,500 acres of land.

The losses are also staggering — nearly $21 million in lost sales revenue, according to Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt.

Officials said Friday morning those numbers are expected to grow as not all farmers have reported losses at this point.

In Massachusetts, at least 75 farms have been hurt by flooding, with about 2,000 acres in crop losses at a minimum value of $15 million, according to the state Department of Agricultural Resources. That number is also expected to climb as more damage is assessed and the longer-term impacts set in.

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey said the disaster requires an unprecedented effort to chase federal, state and private money. On Thursday, she announced a Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund, a partnership between philanthropic organizations and private foundations.

The losses to farms in the Northeast were particularly devastating because of the timing of the flooding, occurring just days before farmers were set to harvest.

The flooding is part of a larger environmental crisis, according to Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont.

"What the hell is going on here?” Lamont said, speaking in front of a flooded farmer’s field in Glastonbury. “Look behind us. We were irrigating that a couple of months ago, desperate for water in the middle of a drought. And today it’s Lake Wobegon. And so what do you do?”

Kate Ahearn, who runs Fair Weather Growers along the Connecticut River in Rocky Hill, said the flood waters took a heavy toll.

“This is our livelihood that is at stake,” she said. “Fair Weather Growers is going to lose about 300 acres of crops and more than half of our labor force, plus all of our wholesale accounts.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.
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