Farmers still tallying losses after storm

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Farmers in the Grande Pointe and Mitchell’s Bay areas are still regrouping in the wake of Friday’s storm that caused millions of dollars in crop damage.

Corn, soybeans and other crops experienced significant losses due to high winds and hail, with snapped stalks and torn leaves littering the fields.

Leon Leclair, who farms in Grande Pointe, said he had 400 acres of corn and 150 acres of sugar beets affected.

“Various degrees of damage,” he told The Daily News on Tuesday. “The 100-per-cent potential is lost, but there’s still potential on the corn. Sugar beets, I don’t know. I won’t know for three months. It’s a root crop.”

He knows of many farmers who have been impacted, calling it an emotional experience.

“Nobody was hurt, that’s another plus. But this is going to set people back two or three years,” he said. “Mortgages still have to be paid.

“I’ll get my bills paid, but for a lot of us it probably will be a non-profit year. It’s not ‘woe is me,’ but that’s just what we do. Mother Nature can either make me lots of money, or she can hurt me.”

Leclair, who is also a North Kent councillor, said it’s too soon to say how much will be offset through crop insurance.

Kim Cooper, an agricultural specialist with the municipality’s economic development department, had a chance to tour the area on the weekend.

“There’s corn that got stripped really low that won’t come back … but there is some corn that still should be able to make it through,” he said. “The sugar beet fields that were hit, they’ve tried to go in and stop any disease. There was some helicopter spraying going on Sunday.”

Cooper also talked with several farmers and said agriculture is more than simply an industry for them.

“They take it pretty personally. You’ve planted it, you’ve watched it grow, then in one moment it’s taken away from you,” he said. “It’s part of who they are. They’ve lost part of themselves in this.”

He said insurance reimbursement depends on the crop, as well as the type of coverage selected.

Although acknowledging the damage is a big setback, Cooper believes the farmers will bounce back.

“Farmers are resilient. These things have happened before and it will happen again,” he said. “It’s certainly tough.”


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