ADAMS -- Local farmers hope federal funding comes through after their fields were damaged by Tropical Storm Irene's floodwaters.
East Road farmers Victor Ziemba and Doug Burnett had portions of their hay fields swallowed up by an overflowing Hoosic River on Aug. 28, and now face significant cleanup costs in order to make the fields viable again.
"Right now a lot of my hay fields have sand and debris in them," Ziemba, owner of Broadlawn Farm, said Tuesday. "I have a four-foot sand berm in the middle of one field."
He said while most of the floodwaters came from the Hoosic River, a lot came down the mountainside and washed into hay and corn fields.
In addition, the driveways and bridges to the fields, which are on the west side of East Road, were washed out, he said.
"We're going to have to spend days and months cleaning this up," he said. "If I try to mow these fields right now, it's going to ruin my machines."
Burnett, whose Burnett Farm has fields on the west side of East Road, faces a similar situation.
"There are probably 70 acres up to Lime Street that is covered in sand, silt and some debris," Burnett said. "The problem is that is my second crop of hay for the year. I'm going to be hard pressed to get through the winter."
In addition to his hay fields flooding, Burnett lost four bridges to the fields and a farmhouse on Spring Road.
While he has already begun to clean up the fields and house, and repair the bridges, it's going to be a long time before things are fixed, he said.
Ziemba estimates it will cost $165,438 to clean up and repair his fields, and unless he gets some help from the government in covering the costs, the future of the family farm doesn't look bright.
"There is no way we can sustain a loss like this," he said.
Aimee Thayer, executive director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency in Berkshire County, said Tuesday the agency is waiting on the federal government to release funds for an emergency conservation program to help farmers put their ruined fields back together.
"How long it takes to start allotting the money depends on the pressure at the national level to spend the money and whether or not the money is there," she said.
Following Tropical Storm Irene, the agency submitted a preliminary request for almost $5 million in emergency funding for the state of Massachusetts for field repairs, she said. Of that request, $1 million was for farms in Berkshire County, $2.65 million for Franklin County and $1.25 million for Hampshire and Hampden counties, she said.
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