On June 11th, Dan and Catherine Kleiber watched their neighbor motor boat across the field where the Kleibers’ corn had been growing the week before. The neighbor’s road was flooded, so driving his fishing boat across the Kleiber’s field to a car parked at his brother’s-in-law farm was his only way to work.
Dan was heading to work to, but instead of cultivating corn and soybeans on their 480-acre farm in Waterloo, WI as he normally would this time of year, Dan was rescuing livestock, moving fences, and pumping water from the basement of their house. Twelve trucks arrived to empty Dan’s silos of corn before the Crawfish River could lap at their base. In less than a week, the Kleiber’s house became lake-front property and fish swam in their corn fields. Nearly 70% of their crops died. Dan and Catherine’s farm is one of hundreds of farms that lost crops in the historic rains deluging southern Wisconsin in early June.
The flood of ’08 has reduced the Kleibers’ 2008 income to what they can earn on the crops remaining, plus what they’ll get by selling their farm-raised pork, chicken, beef, and goat meat at a twice weekly farmers’ market. Currently the Kleibers raise 6 beef cattle, 23 hogs, and 700 chickens on a 5+-acre pasture which the flood has reduced to 1/2 an acre. Dan says it’s too late in the season to order more livestock and raise them before winter sets in. What he’s got will be it for the year.
Unfortunately, Dan’s situation is the rule rather than the exception for southern Wisconsin farmers. That’s why the Wisconsin Department of Agricultureis urging people to help farmers through this crisis by buying their meat and produce at local farmers’ markets.
To learn more about the flooding and see before and after pictures of the Kleiber farm, click on continue reading.