Congress is at an impasse over disaster funding for Midwest floods, Hurricanes Florence and Michael, California wildfires and hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico.
“Losses total more than $8 billion, and the full impact of recent flooding in the Midwest is still being assessed,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “But we know that many farmers are facing near-complete losses of their crops, livestock and farm infrastructure. In times of unprecedented natural disaster, our nation always has stepped up to help farmers and ranchers recover from circumstances beyond their control and to restore their farms to productivity, so we can get back to the business of feeding our people and our economy. Farm Bureau urges U.S. senators to support farmers and ranchers and the rural communities impacted by these catastrophic weather events by moving past this political impasse.”
Yet, even if a funding measure is passed, it may not help farmers whose stored grain was damaged by floodwaters.
USDA has no program to cover crops stored in bins that were damaged by widespread flooding in the nation’s heartland, USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey said during a recent flight over Iowa, Reuters reported. Indigo Ag estimates between 5 million to 10 million bushels of corn and soybeans could have been damaged in the flood.
In Iowa, 59 of the state’s 99 counties have been issued a disaster proclamation because of the widespread flooding, the Des Moines Register reported. Residents in those areas are now eligible for financial assistance.
Meanwhile, individuals are helping their neighbors. A Kansas woman purchased 204 pairs of shoes from a closing Payless ShoeSource, where the business dropped prices to $1 per pair, and donated them to Nebraska flood victims, USA Today reported. The retail value would have been more than $6,000.
Here’s a view of the damage from Nebraska.
On April 3, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to hear an updated assessment of flood damage and look ahead on the Missouri River outflow. However, the primary purpose was to identify regional solutions for recovery and levee repairs.
“It’s long past time for change,” Parson said. “We must begin a serious discussion about how we improve flood control on the Missouri River. One third of Missouri’s most productive farmlands’ fate rests in the hands of those who manage our rivers - the Corps. The Corps maintains one of the nation’s largest flood-control systems on the Missouri River mainstem, but the devastating flooding we are experiencing and the previous record 2011 flooding have demonstrated the current system is insufficient to protect us.”
“It’s time for a coordinated, consistent approach to Missouri River Management, levee reconstruction, and a long-term regional improvement plan,” Reynolds said. “Today’s meeting was about each state presenting a united front to achieve a new level of effective response to severe flooding."
“Nebraska is just starting to recover and rebuild after the most widespread natural disaster in our state’s history,” Ricketts said. “Today, we had a clear message for the Army Corps: We want to see people and communities put first. As we rebuild, we are asking for the Corps and FEMA’s help in cutting red tape and rebuilding bigger and better than before to keep people safe. The three governors committed to working together to change how the river is managed.”