SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) – Governor Healey and other state officials spent Monday afternoon right here in western Mass. as part of the Healey Administration’s continued effort to support those hit hard by the recent severe weather.
Monday was not the governor’s first visit to the area following last week’s damaging rainstorms. Now, she says she is committed to helping farmers through this devastating time.
“Our problems are just beginning,” said one farmer. “This is the tip of the iceberg.”
Governor Healey heard first-hand from local farmers on Monday about the devastating impact of recent flooding.
“We’re not looking for a full refund on what we’ve lost, but any little bit, any little cash money in hand, would help everybody get what they need to get by,” said Mike Antonellis of Antonellis Farm in Deerfield.
Last week, Deerfield and other local farming communities saw devastating rainfall that destroyed an entire season’s worth of crops, like Antonellis who said he has lost about 70 acres and more than $200,000 in revenue.
Now, the administration is promising to do everything it can to offer relief and recovery to those hit hardest.
“The devastation is real and this is economics, and this is about farmers being able to survive,” said Governor Healey. “This is about people being able to provide continued employment to people, and this is also about part of who we are.”
Local farmers told Governor Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll that they have lost hundreds of acres worth of crops and millions of dollars of revenue as a result of last week’s severe rain.
“Lost somewhere between 100-125 acres of potatoes,” said Jay Savage of Savage Farm in Deerfield. “We’ve got crops lost, we’ve got destruction of property through wash outs, we’ve got well over $1 million of losses.”
“This happened right on the cusp of harvest, so the crops are ruined for this year and there’s questions about next year,” Governor Healey said. “That’s why we’re staying on top of it. Lt. Governor and I are committed to doing everything we can to provide relief.”
Farmers said that the staggering rainfall totals flooded crops and left behind fungus, bacteria, and diseases that make the crops unusable.
“We have an awful lot of disease coming in and that’s going to haunt us for weeks and weeks to come,” another farmer told us. “I spent the whole day spraying fungicides, and if the conditions we have keep up, it’s going to be a losing battle. I will say this – there’s a lot of fields right now that still have river on them.”
While those there were appreciative of the governor’s help in the aftermath, Savage, a fourth generation farmer, said more needs to be done to prevent the overflooding of nearby dams.
“We get a few inches of rain and we get a flood event. That shouldn’t happen,” he said. “That river is our biggest ally and worst enemy all at the same time, but if they can control the flow, a lot of this might not have happened and you wouldn’t have to give out disaster money every 5 or 10 years.”
Part of the governor’s plan is to try to make relief funds more flexible for farmers. She said that her administration is tirelessly working to make sure relief money hits farmers’ pockets as quickly as possible.
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