Farm losses drive Iowa's flood damage to $2 billion, Farm Bureau economists estimate


Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register (IA)

April 3, 2019


The hit to Iowa's economy from flooding will reach $2 billion as farmers struggle with damaged grain, massive cleanup, and impassable roads and bridges to fields and livestock.


The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation says the losses to farmers along the flooded Missouri River — and potentially the Mississippi River this spring — will ripple throughout the economy, driving the state's projected $1.6 billion in damages higher.


"When we look at the crop losses, the lost economic activity, it quickly climbs above $2 billion," said Sam Funk, Farm Bureau's senior economist.


Funk estimates that Iowa farmers will struggle to plant as much as 145,000 flooded acres along the Missouri River. In 2011, about 127,000 acres were flooded.


The U.S. Corps of Engineers said Wednesday the March runoff from the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City set a record at 11 million acre feet. The previous high was 7.3 million acre feet set in 1952.


"This flood isn’t just bigger; the effects will last longer,” he said. "Long after waters recede, the sand and debris left behind must be cleaned up before planting.


"But the equipment to remove that debris is not always available quickly and fields may not be ready in time for farmers to get a crop in at all this year,” Funk said.


And farmers say about 30 grain bins filled with corn and soybeans were damaged from flooding. None of that grain can be used, and insurance doesn't cover it.


“That grain will mostly register as a total loss, because adulterated crops can’t be used for feed and can’t be sent to grain markets because of contamination," Funk said.


In turn, fewer crops planted this spring will hurt local sales and employment...