Winter Storm Devastates Yakima Valley Dairy Community

Snowfall, freezing temperatures, and winds reaching 80 mph have caused heartbreak throughout dairy farm families in the Yakima Valley this week. Recent reports estimate approximately 1,600 dairy cows have been lost thus far in the winter storm.

Yakima Valley dairy farmers continue to work tirelessly as a result of the winter storm that hit hard Saturday night. Preparations included adding extra bedding to insulate areas for cows to lay, providing extra feed and thawing water troughs with hot water.

Alyssa Haak, a dairy farmer in Prosser, is thankful for her dedicated employees and community members who helped during the inclement weather.

“Without our employees, there’s no way we, or our cows could survive this storm,” Alyssa explained. “To shield our cows from the wind we stacked straw bales to create a windbreak for our cows. I give a lot of credit to our milk truck drivers, too. Without their bravery, we wouldn’t be able to get our milk off the farm.”

Another farmer in Grandview says he’s been working around the clock to make sure his cows are being protected from the elements.

“These have been the worst few days of my life,” he said. “We’re just devastated. I don’t think we’ve ever been hit with weather like this.”

Severe winter weather is expected to remain in eastern Washington throughout the next week. In the meantime, dairy farmers are assessing their current losses and preparing for the next round of snow and wind. Farmers are working together to help each other through these tough times.

Markus Rollinger, a Sunnyside dairy farmer is stepping up to lend a helping hand to his neighbors. “Saturday was brutal. We put in a 36-hour day, but we’ve been fortunate. I’ve spent a lot of time helping my fellow dairy farmers and supporting what they’re going through,” Markus says. “My brother and I are trying to keep roads plowed for our employees and the milk trucks.”

Governor Inslee has declared a state of emergency for the state of Washington, which will hopefully lead to further assistance for farmers.

As dairy farmers continue to cope with these conditions, the next few days will be touch and go as they assess the damage and losses to their farm. These losses come at an already very difficult time for dairy farmers as most of them are struggling to survive the volatile market conditions. This weather will have lasting economic and emotional implications on dairy farmers across Washington State.

The Dairy Farmers of Washington (DFW) are the local dairy check-off program in Washington State. DFW’s mission is to inspire the desire for dairy through year-round advertising, public relations programs, promotions, and nutrition education. DFW works to increase consumer confidence in real dairy, connect public with dairy farmers, and strengthen the Washington dairy community.

For media inquiries, contact:
chelsi@wadairy.org
425-616-9308

Photo credit:
Chris Doelman

 

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