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Illinois farmers continue to struggle after wet spring

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Monday, October 7, 2019  |  Article  |  The Center Square

Agriculture (2)
While some farmers saw a significant impact on their apple orchards, others struggled to grow their vegetables because of the wet weather.

Michelle Sirles, vice president of Rendleman Orchards near Alto Pass, said flooding during the spring has especially affected vegetable crops in Union County.

“The biggest effect we had from all the rain is on our vegetable crops,” Sirles said. “We had to replant and it’s the first time we have fall vegetable harvesting. That’s overlapping our apple harvest, which we have never done that before.”

Although the rain hasn’t affected the peaches or apples at Rendleman Orchards, Sirles said the farmers had to ask for additional assistance because of the overlap between the vegetable and apple harvest.

“We had to get more harvest workers here,” Sirles said. “There was no way we were going to get the vegetables and the apples all harvested at the same time with our regular number of harvest workers.”

Sirles said Rendleman Orchards was able to submit data from its projected losses to the Farm Service Agency (FSA) because Union County is considered a natural disaster county.

“We did submit data about projected losses to the FSA because FEMA has OK’d 27 counties' disaster aid,” Sirles said. “Union County, our county, is one of them.”

Sirles said Rendleman also suffered losses because the flooded roads didn’t allow farmers to travel to their temporary market in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

“We weren’t able to sell peaches this year because the roads were flooded and they completely closed the roads from Illinois to Missouri,” Sirles said. “We had to develop the total of losses we had from the rain. Those were wholesale vegetables and labor of replanting and retail losses for [the] Cape Girardeau market.”

The farm incurred additional losses because its Missouri customers weren’t able to travel to Illinois to buy products.

Sirles said the business climate for farmers across the U.S. has been concerning in recent years.

“This is the third or fourth year that farmers are really hurting and prices have been terrible,” Sirles said. “The weather has been crushing to the farmers.”

Sirles said 2018 was terrible and 2019 has been even worse with farm income projected to be 10 to 25 percent lower.

“I don’t think the general public is truly aware of the magnitude of what farmers in the U.S. are going through,” Sirles said.