DATCP: Gov. Walker seeks ag disaster declaration for eight northern counties

Contact: Donna Gilson 608-224-5130, [email protected]

MADISON – Gov. Scott Walker has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to designate as disaster areas eight northern Wisconsin counties that suffered extensive crop losses last winter.

The designation would cover Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas, Florence, Forest, Iron, Oneida and Vilas counties. It would make farmers there eligible to receive low-interest loans help them recover from losses of alfalfa, clover and winter wheat crops.

In a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Gov. Walker noted that a thaw-freeze cycle in December and January caused the ground to heave, damaging root systems, and left fields exposed to extreme temperatures with no protective snow cover. The cold, wet spring, with up to 10 inches of snow in late April, made matters worse.

The University of Wisconsin-Extension for Ashland and Bayfield counties reported that farmers lost more than 75 percent of their alfalfa crops on average, and many reseeded with grass or corn. All eight counties reported that, overall, they lost 50-80 percent of their alfalfa crops. Oneida, Florence, Forest and Vilas counties reported losing 50-80 percent of the clover and winter wheat crops as well.