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Worsening drought conditions hit eastern Connecticut

LtoR Hannah Tripp, owner of Provider Farm talks with Senator Richard Blumenthal, Congressman Joe Courtney and Dept of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hulburt about her farms issues.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
Hannah Tripp, owner of Provider Farm, talks with U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Representative Joe Courtney and State Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt about her farms issues.

The hot summer weather is taking its toll on eastern Connecticut.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack has designated New London and Windham counties in the state as natural disaster areas due to the ongoing drought conditions.

Brian Scott-Smith
Produce from Provider Farm in Salem, Connecticut

Hannah Tripp, the owner of Provider Farm in Salem, said the drought has brought out the worst for the growing season — including local wildlife looking for relief.

“We’ve had bear and coyotes in our watermelons,” Tripp said. “We’ve had wildlife get in our green house where we start all of our seeds and wipe out multiple successions of fall crops. We’ve had mice in you know places where we store food, where we’ve never had mice before."

The emergency declaration will allow farmers to apply for certain financial assistance from the U.S. Farm Service Agency to help them with losses in their business and their crops.

“This declaration will open up some crop insurance type programs for farmers, make it easier for them to apply and be eligible for it,” State Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt said during a visit to the Salem farm on Friday.

“It’ll allow them to reconfigure their farm loan, if they have a USDA sponsored loan, which is really important if you have a decreased yield or lower production to be able to skip a loan payment in a year like this. It also opens up emergency loans for those farms that need that extra capital to get by,”
Hurlburt added.

Tripp said milk production in the state is also being affected, too.

Eastern Connecticut has been hit hardest by drought in the state. It is currently under a stage 3 drought declaration that is impacting the region's farming and growing communities. Water companies are also imposing restrictions on their customers.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.