Western Wisconsin farmers struggle with extreme weather conditions

PLUM CITY, Wis. (WEAU) -- Wisconsin farmers have been struggling financially with tariffs and low milk prices and it's no surprise that now the weather is taking a toll. The harsh winter and the wet spring has caused planting and harvesting to get behind schedule.

Wisconsin farmers struggle with extreme weather this spring and damages from harsh winter.

The extreme weather we've been experiencing here in western Wisconsin has been affecting all sorts of crops for farmers, including hay. With farmers having trouble getting out in their fields, some local farmers say they're running low on supplies for their animals.

"It's been a struggle this year,” said farmer, Melvin Pittman. The wet spring has caused nearly a month's delay for Plum City farmer, Melvin Pittman to get out in his field. "Getting crops in has been more of a struggle, the season actually got late,” Pittman added.

But after a harsh winter, little did Pittman know, more setbacks were yet to come. "What we didn't anticipate was severe winter kill in our hay fields,’ Pittman said. “We had probably 50 percent loss on our hay fields.” Pittman was finally able to harvest his crop this week. "This is the most significant damage we've had that I can remember in my 40 plus years of farming,” Pittman added.

With little supply, he's now worried about its ripple effect and having enough feed for his animals. "We're going to be a little short, we're going to be a little short so we're focusing on harvesting more corn for silage to help us with the loss of hay but that means we will have to buy more protein for our cows and so there will be an extra cost for that,” Pittman said.

The loss of hay is now adding additional costs, during a tough financial time for farmers throughout the state. "It is quite devastating and the cost to plant a new hay field, alfalfa or whatever is significant so we are looking at hundreds of dollars an acre just to try to start a new crop,” Pittman added.

Not only is the crop loss digging at Pittman's pockets, it's also hitting his heart as he has had to turn away neighbors asking for help. "They were asking if we had extra hay or even oats for seeding this spring,” Pittman said. Unfortunately, Pittman was only able to help out a little bit, but he's trying to stay optimistic about brighter days and calmer weather ahead. "We're hopeful that Mother Nature will treat us well through the rest of the season and we can make up some ground later in the season,” Pittman said.

It's no doubt it's been a tough time for Wisconsin farmers dealing with the weather but Pittman pointed out that it could always be worse. He says he is thankful they didn't endure any of the tornadoes or flooding they have in other parts of the Midwest and the Planes.