That’s not a call any farmer wants to get, but that’s the call we got the other night. Firefighters were called out to one of our fields when someone saw smoke billowing from it. By the time they were able to put it out, several acres were completely ruined. The firefighters had to chase several groups of teens from the property while they were battling the blaze. They determined it was set intentionally.
After that call, mom was in tears and the frustration was clearly etched across dad’s face.
The farm is located next to a residential neighborhood closer to town. That fact didn’t stop us from renting it, however, because never in a million years did we think that would be a problem. With other fields, we usually give neighboring kids rides on the tractors or in the combine. Dad will drive over when they’re in the yard watching us so they can meet a farmer. We love introducing young people to agriculture! We don’t assume that the people next door are going to be a problem; quite the opposite, really.
We should have known though. When my brother was planting this spring, some of the younger adolescents came out next to the field to flip him off. Later, when dad went over to the farm to spray, he noticed that some of the grass on that side of the field had been burned. It was disconcerting, but we never suspected that there was criminal activity taking place.
Apparently, we were wrong.
While an officer was present during the 2 1/2 hours it took the firefighters to put out the blaze, according to his incident report, he was only there to “protect the fire equipment.” As firefighters worked to quell the flames, we were told teens were still running around starting new fires! The next morning, when mom and dad went to file a report, they were told no because “no one was hurt.” Unless they could identify who did it, there was no point in filing a report. Surprisingly, local law enforcement seemed disinterested.
It sucks. We work so hard all year. Someone can take it away from us without absolutely any consequences or remorse. Thousands of dollars just went up in flames, and we still have to pay for the seed, fuel, fertilizer, and pesticides required to raise that corn. All that hard work completely ruined just for fun.
The farm economy is in the tank right now and we’re living on super thin margins. Those acres could be a really big deal, especially because we expect really good yields from that farm. Crop insurance isn’t available for this, and our farm insurance is still looking into coverage.
Yet no one seems to care. There is no investigation. There is no apology. There is no answer. My parents went to the field after they were turned away from creating a report. Mom just stood there crying. She said it was littered with paper and materials the teens had used to start the fires. We’re terrified to go back and pick that field.
As farmers, we work too had for this result, especially when it stems from criminal behavior that is being completely ignored. I wish I had something insightful and inspiring to say here to try to make sense of what or why it happened. But, this time, I don’t.
I’m too heartbroken.
Thats just terrible.
I am sorry to hear this. And angry.
I am so so sorry……we ran a strawberry farm for 8 years….i *know* how hard you worked:(
Ben Edge says
That’s ridiculous. I bet if it had been a business brick and mortar building the police would be singing a different tune. This is no different, just a different setting. It is absolutely property damage, as if they had stolen your car and torched it. If nothing else, they should want to find the culprits so it doesn’t happen again. Reminds me of a teen drinking party in a field near where I used to live and the police refused to press charges against the kids they caught because they couldn’t arrest everyone involved. I think it was just that they knew the kids were from powerful families. That may be the case for you. Sorry for your loss.
That’s my thought too! Powerful families or perhaps teenagers of the officers themselves! So aggravating!! So sorry to hear this!
Please don’t make assumptions.
I can confidently say that these kids did not cone from powerful families, quite the opposite actually.
Jean Sherman says
I have to agree that someone needs to be held responsible. If the police were there to protect fire equipment they must have an idea of who the kids were. The community needs to know the costs etc that goes into producing their food.
…then they should have been able to identify and apprehend the teens running around the field starting new fires? Yeah, I think so too.
Kevin Folta says
So sorry. I can’t tell you how angry this makes me. Best wishes to you and your family.
Angela Stewart says
Thats ridiculous, someone needs to be held responsible for the crop damage. We had a problem one year with someone driving thru the field and they had to pay market value for what they damaged. I hope charges are filed against those kids since they were seen leaving the property.
Philip McArdle says
I’m sorry for your loss. And sorry that these young people haven’t had better parenting. They are mean!!! No respect.
This is absolutely terrible! Go above the Local Police Department, contact you State Police & the State Arson Unit. Also contact State Representatives, Senators
This is so wrong. I am sure those immature kids can be identified. By thier bragging if nothing else.
By no charges filed?
Those kids will really start acting with immpunity and think they can get away with whatever they want to do as far as property damage.
Local Law Enforcement has opened up a huge can of worms that is going to haunt the Community as a whole.
I care about this terrible loss and the attitude your law enforcement has. I agree with Rebecca, I hope you can go above your local officials. These kids need to be stopped.
We have tried to go up the chain. Next step will probably be elected officials, but I doubt that will have much impact. Unfortunately, we found out some kids burned down a barn on that property 2-3 years ago. Nothing was done at that time either.
See, this is actually a continuation of a problem that began 2-3 years ago. And as with that one, no accountability was made. This is a festering problem. Be strong and persevere. If not, this poor behavior of the young will be encouraged. Talk to many. Visit with the Sheriff himself, talk directly with the county attorney’s office. How about the zoning office regarding zoning and trespassing rules. Go to your commissioners. Some place you are going to find the individual who will make a difference.
Peer pressure may help. Share the address /location of this field fire.
I have actually talked to the local sheriff and I’m waiting to hear back. If not, I definitely will get you all involved. 😉
Yep. And if do nothing, these kids will do it again and again and again.
You need to immediately contact the state police. What the city and county is doing is criminally negligent. And the state police need to be informed.
After what has happened in the Pacific Northwest, the Smokey Mountains, Kansas, and Napa Valley as well, these fires need to be investigated. And the city police and county are complicit in the fires.
Did this yesterday. Told us to go back to the local police. :-/
I hear your frustration. A couple of years back I wanted to provide some information I had that may have been related to a violent crime that was in the local news at the time.
I got the royal run-around with the police department, so I had to shrug my shoulders and let it go.
Try talking to the fire captain in charge that night and the local fire chief. Maybe they can recommend an investigation to the police.
I am so sorry this has happened to you.
So sorry for your loss, just a thought, if you carry a hail policy through crop insurance, they often times have a fire/vandalism coverage clause. Check with your agent if you indeed carried a hail policy. Good luck.
Nope. Not covered. I’m not sure if we have hail damage, but our policy only covers natural disaster. Intentional fires are not a natural disaster.
If you have separate hail insurance it maybe covered.
Not covered. I’m not sure if we have hail damage, but our policy only covers natural disaster. Intentional fires are not a natural disaster.