Nebraska and Iowa flood damage could mean nearly $1 billion hit to agriculture

Photo courtesy U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency

The U.S. state of Nebraska is one of the country’s biggest agricultural areas. It’s most famous for its beef cattle and corn, but farmers there work hard every year in the production of swine, eggs, dairy, wheat, soybeans and more. Each of these industries has been hit hard by record-breaking flooding this month.

The state and surrounding areas were hit with a bomb cyclone, a weather phenomenon that occurs when atmospheric pressure drops sharply and suddenly. The storm dumped precipitation, including snow that buried homes and livestock before melting and contributing to rapidly rising floodwaters that have devastated much of the region.

The suddenness of the flooding in parts of Nebraska and neighboring state Iowa gave producers little time to safeguard their farms. Livestock were drowned, stored grain was ruined or faced contamination risks, and fields became so soaked that planting may have to be delayed this year — or may not be able to happen at all.

“I would say 50% of the farmers in our area will not recover from this,” farmer Dustin Sheldon told CNN. Many farmers are dealing with losses of hundreds of livestock in their facilities or of stored or planned crops. Many farms had only just felt that they’d recovered from another year of awful flooding, in 2011.

The damage will take time to recover from. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) predicted the total economic impact might reach $440 million to grain and another $400 million to livestock, and those numbers could rise. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts told reporters it was the “most widespread destruction we have ever seen in our state’s history.”

NDA has wasted no time preparing aid for affected producers. Those in need of hay, feedstuffs, fencing materials, equipment and volunteer help have been urged to contact the department for help, and to consult its list of disaster relief resources.

Producers are also encouraged to notify their local Farm Service Agency offices of their losses, which will also allow them to participate in programs that can help, like livestock indemnity and land rehabilitation plans.

Comments are closed.