The abrupt blast that swept through the Yakima Valley on Feb. 9 was aloof one added beating for the region’s dairy farms.
The cardinal of dairy farms in the accompaniment has plummeted from 2,500 in 1993 to 377 in 2018, according to the Washington Acreage Bureau, which represents the mostly family-owned businesses. Four years of low milk prices accept led abundant farmers to alarm it quits.
Dairy farms additionally face new accompaniment regulations for administration and autumn cow admixture that one dairy adviser estimates accept antecedent costs of $300,000 to $2 million. Requirements accommodate appropriate liners for the lagoons captivation the manure, and a binding leak-detection system.
But Yakima Valley dairy farmers were extemporaneous for what befell them on Feb. 9. A storm with wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph and temperatures in the low to mid-teens beatific wind chills coast abreast aught degrees, abrogation 1,850 dairy beasts asleep in the amount of a few hours. With anniversary cow admired by the dairies at $2,000, the accident was $3.7 million.
Though dairy farmers can administer for agreement of 75 percent of the livestock’s bazaar amount for weather-related deaths through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Acreage Service Agency, the accident hit Yakima Valley farmers hard.
“What next? Biblical plagues? A agitated tornado?” says Stu Turner, a West Richland-based agriculturalist and adviser to the dairy industry. “They’ve faced about aggregate that you can anticipate of that’s negative.”
Dairy beasts accept died by the hundreds – alike the bags – afore in blizzards. An estimated 35,000 beasts died in December 2015 back a winter storm dubbed Goliath swept through West Texas and New Mexico. Tens of bags added died in an October 2013 snowstorm in South Dakota.
But aftermost month’s tragedy drew civic coverage, dispatch affronted acknowledgment from animal-rights groups and accusation on the internet.
PETA appear it would acquirement either a advance or maybe alteration ads in the Yakima breadth to admire the deaths. The angel will be of a mother cow and her calf, abutting to the words, “Not Your Mom? Not Your Milk! Choose Vegan.”
Jason Sheehan, who absent 200 beasts at his J & K Dairy, says best of the dairy farmers who absent beasts don’t appetite to be allotment of media coverage. Not far abroad from his acreage is a dairy that absent 600 cows, he says, but that agriculturalist didn’t appetite publicity.
“No amount how acceptable a job we do, how able-bodied we affliction for the animals, bodies tend to about-face it about on us,” Sheehan says. “There’s lot of keyboard warriors out there these days.”
In fact, few Americans apperceive abundant about acreage life. In 2016, alone 1.5 percent of Americans were active in agriculture, forestry, fishing or hunting, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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