Pa. crop devastation means higher costs for produce

    The head of Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Department says farmers face huge losses after the flooding from Tropical Storm Lee. And those losses will mean higher prices for produce.

    George Greig said the contaminated floodwaters that inundated farms along and around the Susquehanna River mean acres and acres worth of crops will likely be destroyed.

    During a tour of a potato farm Wednesday in northern Dauphin County, Greig said he could smell the damage.

    “There are potatoes that have been under water and now are rotting, you can smell it in the fields,” he said. “It’s just unusable crops.

    Greig said there are disaster-assistance programs available, but the aid will not cover all the potential costs to farmers. Even those with crop insurance will only recoup some of what they’ve lost, he said.

    The damage will “without a doubt” affect costs for consumers and food distributors as farmers scramble to fill contracts with local markets without their expected harvest, he said.

    “We’re just getting to the main thrust of the harvest season so we don’t know how it’s going to affect the cost, but undoubtedly it will affect the cost,” he said.

    Surviving crops meant for human and animal consumption will have to be tested for bacteria and toxins before they can be made available, Greig said.

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