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Severe weather is punishing CT farmers this year. State officials are asking the feds for help

Glastonbury farmer Tony Botticello points down the road leading to tiny yellow tufts visible through the trees; his corn, roughly five feet tall and only just above the waterline. Tony said if he was lucky he might be able to harvest 25% of what he planted this year.
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
Glastonbury farmer Tony Botticello points down the road leading to tiny yellow tufts visible through the trees; his corn, roughly five feet tall and only just above the waterline. Tony said if he was lucky he might be able to harvest 25% of what he planted this year.

Following heavy rain that flooded farms, destroyed crops and cost farmers millions, state officials are – once again – seeking a federal disaster declaration for Connecticut.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday his office submitted a request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a federal agricultural disaster declaration.

The request says heavy July rains and flooding damaged more than two dozen farms across the state, causing particular havoc to farmers along the Connecticut River.

So far, farmers have reported losses spanning over 1,500 acres of land, totaling nearly $21 million in lost sales revenue, according to state officials.

The disaster request covers all of Connecticut. The July rains were particularly ill-timed, farmers say, because they flooded fields and wiped out crops just days before harvest.

If approved, the request would allow farmers to be eligible for federal disaster assistance programs, including emergency loans, to cover production losses.

This isn’t the first time this year state officials have asked the federal government to support farmers whose crops were damaged by the weather.

Two prior frost events, including an unusual one in mid-May, impacted more than 1,000 acres of crops with estimated losses totaling $8.4 million, according to state officials.

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.