Some Wisconsin farms buckle under weight of snow

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin farmers are facing a buildup of snow that's causing damage to some structures as the state continues to get hit by unrelenting winter weather.

Some farmers are watching their buildings buckle under the weight of snow because the strength of these structures is often compromised by being older and housing damp environments, due to livestock, said Brian Holmes, a retired agricultural engineer for University of Wisconsin-Extension.

Farm structures are also exempt from state building codes, Holmes added.

"There are standards for how strong you need to build a house roof and there are no standards as to how strong you need to build a farm building in the state of Wisconsin," he said.

Lauren Langworthy, of Blue Ox Farm in Wheeler, told Wisconsin Public Radio that recent snowfall was too heavy for her high tunnel, a structure similar to a greenhouse that's made out of a metal frame and heavy plastic.

"The whole frame buckled and bent completely, it's pretty flat actually. So, we won't be able to use most of the components of the high tunnel to build a new one," Langworthy said.

She hopes that insurance will cover some of the damage to the $7,000 high tunnel.

Langworthy said other farmers have experienced similar damage.

"I've just been hearing anecdotally from folks their pole sheds are buckling and there have been a lot of high tunnels collapses," Langworthy said. "It does add a lot of extra effort when it all comes so heavy and so quickly."

Holmes warned that winter weather will likely become more destructive as spring nears and snow becomes wetter and heavier.

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