Winter storms have devastated dairy farmers in Yakima Valley, with an estimated 1,600 or more cows being lost at this point.
According to Dairy Farmers of Washington, snowfall, freezing temps and winds up to 80 mph have played a factor in the cows' deaths.
As the storm rolls on and winter weather continues, farmers in the area have been working tirelessly trying to add extra bedding to insulate areas for cows to lay, providing extra feed and thawing water troughs with hot water.
“Without our employees, there’s no way we, or our cows could survive this storm,” Alyssa Haak, a dairy farmer in Prosser, 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.”
Dairy farmers are assessing losses while preparing for more snow and winds while working together to get through these tough times. No injuries have been reported by farmers or farm workers.
“These have been the worst few days of my life,” a farmer in Grandview said. “We’re just devastated. I don’t think we’ve ever been hit with weather like this.”
A farmer in Sunnyside has stepped up in helping neighbors.
“Saturday was brutal," Markus Rollinger said. "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. My brother and I are trying to keep roads plowed for our employees and the milk trucks.”
In addition to the already mounting damages and losses to their farms, farmers are already at a difficult time as they struggle to survive the market conditions, which are volatile according to DFW.
"This weather will have lasting economic and emotional implications on dairy farmers across Washington State," DFW said in the release.