Small Organic Dairy Farmers Learned Too Late That Their $90K Barn Was Not Insured Due To Renovations

“We thought we did have insurance,” the owners of a certified organic dairy farm in Kerkhoven, Minnesota explained. The Kerkhoven Fire Department was called in to assist with controlling the fire at the organic dairy farm of Richard and Carol Radtke at about 1:30 on a Tuesday afternoon in early March, but the barn was fully engulfed in flames, according to the Kerkhoven Banner. Just 30 minutes into discovering the fire, their barn was a total loss. All total, the fire departments of Kerkhoven, Sunburg and Pennock all worked together to contain the fire, Carol explained.

“Besides the barn, we lost our Bobcat skidsteer, 3 sows and 16 piglets that were less than 3 days old (they were in pens under the hay-loft), organic hay, straw, corn and oats, $4500 worth of lumber, supplies and tools needed to renovate it and our dairy/milking equipment (pipeline, tank, compressor, claw-units, etc …), our pitchforks, and scoops.”

The organic dairy farmers sold their milk to popular organic dairy vendor Organic Valley. According to the farmers’ website, Carol has always milked the dairy animals by hand and the animals eat from a pasture of hay and other foraged plants. They do not own a combine or new vehicles and try to live as sustainably and economically as possible. The farm is the one Richard grew up on, according to Living the Country Life.

The farmers say that they found out after the fire that their barn was not covered by their insurance policy because it was under renovation. They say that the insurance company said that it wasn’t covered under their broad insurance plan at the time of the fire and only would have been covered under the policy had the upgrades been completed. To rebuild the barn, with no additional frills, the dairy farmers say, they were given an estimate of $93,000.

The farmers say that they have managed to use all of their available funds to complete about $30,000 worth of construction already. They started a GoFundMe fundraising page and they have promised to give back to the organic farming community and their own local community once they are recovered from last spring’s fire. That fundraiser is just several thousand dollars short of the farmers’ $19,800 goal, which they say, coupled with a USDA loan and the generosity of a contractor who said he would accept an “IOU for his labor” should be enough to complete the modest barn suitable for the organic dairy farm’s needs. They have expressed their gratitude to an extensive list of individual donors and supporters on the farm’s website.

On the farm’s raw, organic dairy Facebook page, the Radtke family is still updating followers about the status of the barn’s construction, sharing wholesome recipes and educating the public about organic foods.

[Photo via Prairies Edge Organic Dairy]