Barn and Hay Fires Kill Farms and Ranches – Avoid Becoming a Statistic

"Nothing can bring a farm to its knees in a single, decisive blow faster than a fire" says Michael Greenia, a member of the Vermont Barn Fire Prevention Task Force. In fact, he says that many farms never recover. Jenny Nelson agrees after seeing the loss of many barns and farms to fire over the last 30 years.  Nelson, the agriculture policy adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders say, "You lose your barn, and you really think twice about whether you want to get back in farming." The difference between surviving a barn fire and closing up shop is often insurance. When a fire destroyed their barn, the Boucher Family Farm in Highgate, Vermont lost feed, seed, fertilizer, two machine shops, and thousands of pounds of meat inventory, as well as 8 pigs and 5 calves. Thanks to three separate insurance policies, the farm will recover, but in the meantime, cheese making has been suspended, and without that and the weekly market trips to Burlington, their annual earnings will be halved.  "We've had to stop everything," says Dawn Boucher. But buying insurance isn't always an easy thing to do, especially when times are tight. Dan and Merri Paquin of Critter Meadows Farm chose to buy winter heating fuel over insurance for their organic dairy. Says Merri, "I just figured I could pause it and pick it back up after the winter and we would be OK."

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