Farmers Still Recovering from Irene

Farmers across the country are still recovering from damage wrought by Hurricane Irene last year. The slow recovery process is being hindered by an austerity obsessed Congress and by an ongoing drought.

On August 27, 2011, Hurricane Irene, a Category 1 hurricane, made landfall in North Carolina, sweeping up the Eastern seaboard before dissipating near the Vermont/New Hampshire border on August 28. Irene’s path across the United States caused 47 deaths and about $19 million in property damage, making Irene the fifth most damaging hurricane in U.S. history.

In the path of Irene was a wide swath of agricultural land across the Northeast. Last year the U.S. Department of Agriculture recorded about $78.6 million of insurance claims covering about 225,000 acres of damaged land.

Floodwaters caused by Irene washed away land improvements, destroyed crops, and spread debris, fuel, and chemicals across valuable farmland. While some farmers were able to minimize their losses and recover quickly, many others are still making repairs and are still restoring damaged land.

While farmers have benefited from federal disaster aid, the recent string of bad weather has only made recovery more difficult. An early spring (followed by severe cold snaps in the Northeast), a dry summer, and increased feed and operating costs nationwide have left some farmers still reliant on federal financial support. This reliance, however, is being complicated by efforts in Congress to dramatically cut agricultural spending and federal farm aid.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer