September 21, 2011

Cornell Cooperative Extension Helps Farmers Receive Hay, Feed After Flooding

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After flooding damaged counties south of Ithaca earlier this month, the Cornell Cooperative Extension set up networks to ensure that farmers received the supplies they needed.The flooding, caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, affected the neighboring counties of Broome, Tioga, Schoharie and Otsego.David Cox M.A. ’00, an agricultural educator at the Schoharie County CCE branch, described the CCE’s work in the flood relief as “pulling the right people together quickly to come to the farms [to] see the damage and talk to the farmers.”The CCE brought dairy specialists and food crop specialists to affected farms to assess the damage and map out a recovery plan, Cox said.The floods ruined many farmers’ hay, so the Schoharie County CCE helped farms “primarily with feed management,” said Don Smyers, executive director for the Otsego County CCE branch.The CCE worked with the New York Farm Bureau to provide emergency networks to provide feed stock to Schoharie Valley dairy farmers. According to Cox, the Farm Bureau set up a conference that advocated for allowing agricultural service providers to check in regularly and see “where the need was.”The Bureau’s regional coordinator started a spreadsheet detailing what items farms needed or were offering to sell.“Some people have stepped up to the plate to offer hay and forage — that is, feed — and [give] surplus inventory to farmers in need,” Cox said.Smyers added that CCE had done much of its work in Schoharie County “because that’s where the need was most pressing.”“Our work is twofold: We provide helpful information in a time of need and provide a pipeline for relevant information between county farmers and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets,” he said.After the floods, the Broome County CCE agricultural staff answered calls about flooded vegetable gardens and ensured that affected farms received the aid they needed. The nutritional staff answered calls about food safety and let people know which frozen and refrigerated foods would be safe after a power outage and which would need to be discarded, according to CCE staff.The CCE also played a direct role in disaster management, linking local farmers with local governments, according to Cox.

Original Author: Sarah Meyers