Rusk Co. farmers worry about their future after tornado - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Rusk Co. farmers worry about their future after tornado


Conrath (WQOW) --  Last week's tornado affected a number of residents and also up-rooted the lives of a number of farmers.

 "Everyday is difficult and there is no light at the end of the tunnel," said Andy Zunker, of R & Z Farms Inc. in Conrath. "Something like this impacts a farm for a long time."

The Zunkers said every building on their farm received some kind of damage from the tornado. They said two buildings are now condemned and will have to be totally torn down and replaced, though the area where their cows sleep and eat was definitely dealt the most damage.

But, structural damage is only part of the problem. The Zunkers said their main concern is the well-fair of their cows, now that they're forced to stay outside. And not only that, but the storm tore apart the plastic that covered the cow's feed out in the fields, meaning most of it won't be able to be used.

"Much of our feed has been damaged and spoiling," Andy's wife, Valerie Zunker, said. "That's a huge issue because then it doesn't have the good quality to feed the milk cows for good production, so we're going to have income loss." 

"We really take our cattle care to heart, and we don't want to see anything suffer," Andy said. "So, some days it's really hard to keep a tough upper lip." 

Fortunately, the Zunkers didn't lose any livestock in the storm, and more importantly, family members. Now, they're focused on the future. 

"We hope to fully rebuild and be operational. And, it's going to take until winter to be back up and running at full strength," Andy told News 18. 

Though the Zunkers said Mother Nature hasn't done them any favors since the storm. 

"Now, it's so wet that our crops, that were all planted -- a lot of them have either washed out or are spoiling, rotting in the ground, and we don't even know if our corn is going to come up," Valerie said. 

Still, they know things could be much worse. 

"I know this is going to be a tremendous undertaking and it's a really catastrophic loss, but ... we're safe."

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