Farmers face major challenges after winter storm

SHAWANO, Wis. - A first glance at a Shawano dairy farm and the damage is eye-popping.

"This is another backbreaker for the community that we didn't need," Shawano dairy farmer Jay Vomastic said. "One freak snowstorm and everything is wiped away."

Vomastic's barn is nearly destroyed after April's massive snowfalls.

"It's sad to see years of work and all those things, grandather, father and everybody built things up to be where they were at," Vomastic said.

It's what you don't see that is fast becoming another major problem. Some cows died in the storm. Others are not in their barns but rather a snowy, muddy field.

"You've got these calves that are now getting sick," local dairy farmer Amy Zernicke said. "We've got to vaccinate and treat for that."

Zernicke said it's a challenge to milk and feed.

While the first problems for dairy farmers are the cleanup and taking care of the cows, the long term problems are numerous and significant.

"It's just a multitude of things, possibilities that could hurt you," Vomastic said.

An already delayed planting season is being pushed back even more. Production across the farm is down. Still, these farmers carry on.

"Just like everything in farming, you overcome and adapt i guess," Vomastic said. "We're pretty resiliant people."

State leaders visited area dairy farms today. They're hoping to start assessing damages and see if and how the federal government can help financially. Governor Scott Walker is expected to visit farms tomorrow.

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