Severe winter weather leads to trouble for farmers

MIDDLEBURY As people anticipate the official spring season, one group is particularly desperate for milder conditions. Farmers have been hit hard by winter's wrath.

Farmers faced similar problems as many homeowners but on a larger scale. High energy costs, poor driving conditions and the concern of frost bite were all factors in what made this winter so extreme.

Mike Oesch is a dairy farmer and partner at My Brook Farm in Middlebury. Oesch says this winter was the toughest he's dealt with.

"We've had water pipes freeze up, we've had waters freeze," said Oesch. "Those days when you tell everybody to stay inside, those are the days we're out longer than ever."

Cost has been an issue all winter. Farmers across the nation have taken a big hit.

"When the weather got cold, we started feeding the baby calves three times a day instead of what normally would be twice a day," said Oesch.

"It just takes more to keep their body temperatures up and meet their basic need because it is so cold."

Now, farmers are looking toward what could be a late spring, more problems for both those on the field and the average consumer.

Dwight Moudy of the Elkhart County Farm Bureau worries a comperssed season will pose traffic problems and cause heavy work loads.

"These guys are going to be really under the gun to get a lot of work done. Many of the past winters, we've either been able to already be in the field in March or they've been able to work all winter even sometimes. That's not going to be the case, they're going to be way behind. So there will be a lot more traffic, a lot more farm equipment," said Moudy.

Plus, consumers could see price increases down the road.

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