Crop Insurance Today November 2013 - (Page 30)
Tom & Mike Audet, Orwell, Vermont
By Dave Ray, North Bridge Communications
Ledge Haven Farm might be one of those
Vermont farms that would be most likely to
end up on a postcard. The place is just about
everything you would think of when you put
the words Vermont and agriculture together.
The 550-acre farm, owned by brothers Tom
and Mike Audet, is a family-run dairy and
maple sugaring operation located near the
idyllic shores of Lake Champlain, just down
the road from historic Mount Independence
in Orwell, Vermont.
The Audet brothers have been in business
together since 1972, having been raised on a
farm just down the road that is still operated
by yet another Audet brother. "We have been
making pure Vermont maple syrup for over
40 years right here on our farm," says Tom
Audet. "It is an Audet family tradition with
three generations of our family pitching in to
make the final product," he says.
The brothers manage their risk using one
of the gold medal standard rules of modern
agriculture: Diversify. The brothers milk 270
dairy cows, attend to another 280 young stock
and breeding stock, manage 450 acres of corn,
hay and alfalfa, as well as tapping hundreds
of maple trees on the 50 wooded acres of the
property. "Diversifying is our first line of defense in managing risk, and crop insurance is
the second," said Audet.
Audet explains that in addition to raising
a diversity of products, they also rotate their
crops, hoping to further hedge their risk. "But
we wouldn't think of planting this many acres
of corn without mitigating our risk with crop
insurance," he adds.
2011 would turn out to be one of those
years when Audet would thank his lucky
stars for writing that crop insurance premium
check and purchasing the small peace of mind
that comes with coverage.
The spring of 2011 was very wet, and very
cold, and the brothers had a lot of prevented
planting as a result. Despite the setback from
the wet spring, the brothers reseeded some of
their lost acres and kept their fingers crossed
for a nice settled weather pattern over the
course of the summer and a bountiful fall
harvest. And then came Irene.
Tropical Storm Irene, which came ashore
in North Carolina as a major hurricane and
had devastated the state's tobacco industry,
continued moving north, and slammed into
the hilly New England farmland with high
winds and prodigious amounts of rain. "Irene
hit us in late August and drenched us with
7 inches of water in two days," he said. "You
throw all of that water on these clay soils late
in the season, and they just don't dry out."
Irene so thoroughly saturated Ledge Haven Farm that it made it impossible to get the
corn out of the fields. In fact, the fields were
so saturated that even professional harvesters were rebuffed on two separate occasions.
"We've never in our lives seen a corn harvester that couldn't make it out of the fields, but
this time, they didn't fail to get the harvest out
once, but twice," he said. "That's how wet Irene
In addition to not being able to get the vast
majority of their corn out of the fields, the
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Crop Insurance Today November 2013
Gettin' By on Gettin' Bys...
Helping Farmers and Ranchers: Developing Risk Management Plans
NCIS Adjuster Schools Big Success
1890 Scholarship Recipients
Ten Considerations Regarding the Role of Crop Insurance in the Agricultural Safety Net
Crop Insurance In Action
Kent A. Petersen Retires
In Memory Bill Hanson
Crop Insurance Today November 2013