While the photos of contorted grain bins are staggering, they’re a heartbreaking reality to the owners who might not receive compensation for recent harvests. Indigo Ag told Reuters they estimate 5 million to 10 million bushels in 832 on-farm storage bins were destroyed in recent flooding.
Current disaster programs provide relief to livestock owners and crop ground—but there’s no solution for stored grain. Simply, government officials have never seen this much damage and don’t have a current solution.
“There’s nothing the U.S. government can do about the millions of bushels of damaged crops here under current laws or disaster-aid programs,” U.S. Agriculture Under Secretary Bill Northey told Reuters.
Congress will need to pass legislation to provide aid to farmers who lost stored grain. A process that’s lengthy and complicated. And any grain submerged in floodwater has to be destroyed.
Widespread damage from flooding needs fast solutions.
“We’re into just millions upon millions of dollars of crop land [damage], not counting towns and people’s property,” said Missouri Governor Mike Parsons to “AgriTalk” Host Chip Flory earlier this week. “When you consider agriculture is the No. 1 industry in the state and 35% of our land is considered in the floodplain … that’s over a third of our state. It’s a huge problem.”
Farmers are already in a tight position across the U.S. Chapter 12 bankruptcies in the Midwest increased by 19% from 2017 to 2018, according to data from the American Farm Bureau Federation. For farmers counting on stored grain to make loan payments and stay afloat, time is not on their side.
Meteorologists from Maxar Technologies anticipate at least half a million acres were flooded in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. This includes 211,684 corn acres and 226,809 soybean acres (crops grown in 2018). River levels are still rising with rainfall and snowmelt.
“Major flooding is inevitable in the coming weeks as a deep snowpack continues to melt across the Red River Valley, an important corn, soybean and spring wheat growing area,” said Kyle Tapley, senior agricultural meteorologist for Maxar, in a recent news release.
Furthermore, Planalytics, a business weather intelligence firm, is forecasting more spring flooding.
“Planalytics estimates 55% of U.S. corn acres and 60% of soybean acres are at risk of either major or moderate flooding this spring,” the company said in a recent press release.
Farmers might be able to recoup some losses—even if they’re not from stored grain. Check insurance coverage to see if flood insurance is included. If not, some farmers might qualify for FEMA benefits. Learn more here.