Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Economic Costs Of Cold, Snow
February 27, 2014 by John Parker | No Comments

Local farmers, along with many other people, have suffered some economic losses as a result of the long and very cold winter everyone has experienced.…

Local farmers, along with many other people, have suffered some economic losses as a result of the long and very cold winter everyone has experienced. These losses come about in several different ways, depending on each individual farm and the kind of farm operation.

Visits with a few local farmers indicate several different kinds of problems. One of the most common is frozen water lines. Most farmers have had problems with frozen lines when the temperature gets down to zero or below and stays there for some time. The cold will creep in and eventually lines will freeze.

Finding out where they are frozen can be a challenge. If the water lines are all in buildings, finding the spot where there is not enough heat or insulation that lets the cold get in is tough. Or, if the lines are below ground and in a normal winter do not cause problems, where are they frozen this time?

Once the frozen area has been located, it takes some work to get the line thawed out. If it’s a line that is needed to water cattle, it needs to be thawed out quickly because water is essential. Underground frozen lines often require digging up an area, thawing the line if it isn’t broken, insulating it and getting it covered up again. And, it is no fun working out in bitter cold doing that kind of work.

One of my friends commented that in the kind of cold Northeast Ohio has experienced, nothing seems to work right. Tractors do not want to start, belts and chains break easier and any job where someone has to be outside for any length of time is almost impossible.

Another downside is the extra feed needed for cows to stay warm and still produce their milk. Reports locally and from across the country indicate that milk production is down because of the cold weather. Other local dairy farmers say the cold has not hurt their production.

So, when more feed is needed and milk production is down, that is another financial loss. Beef cattle farmers also have to give their cattle some more feed to get the weight gain they need with their cattle.

Another problem on farms is icy surfaces and the danger from falls. Dairy farms use water to wash cow’s udders and clean equipment. Freezing and occasional thawing around the farm causes much ice. The risk of injuries from falls is greater and it takes more time to get chores done.

Milk produced on dairy farms has to get to the processor without delay. The quicker it is processed, the better it is. Also, farmers do not have any extra storage space and when the bulk tank is full, the milk hauler has to get to the farm. This means they have to be out with their tank trucks regardless of the cold or snow.

Grape growers are concerned about bud and vine damage because of the prolonged cold. Many believe they will have some serious losses to their grape crops this year, again a serious financial loss. The grape crop is where the money comes from for the grower.

Many people have to get out regardless of the weather. Highway department workers, grocery store employees, doctors, hospital workers and those who work for utility companies are all important. One should appreciate and thank them for all they do. They also have higher costs because of weather.

We all welcome this warming trend that we know is coming, even if we do get a bit impatient!

Parker is an independent agricultural writer.

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