- Record flooding across the Midwest has damaged agricultural fields and killed livestock.
- Farmers will face hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage, according to experts.
- That comes at a time when farmers are already struggling from low commodity prices and tariffs.
Record flooding has devastated farmers across the Midwest, hitting them hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage to crops and livestock at a time when some are already struggling to make ends meet.
Nebraska has been bearing the brunt of the pain so far, with officials estimating $450 million worth of crops could be compromised from delayed or prevented planting. Also, $400 million worth of livestock have been killed or displaced by the floods, according to the Nebraska Farm Bureau.
Officials noted early numbers could underestimate damage in the state, since conditions are expected to worsen and figures don’t include some other costs like public roads and bridges. Total losses in the state are currently thought to be around $1.4 billion, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts said this week.
The NFB estimates also fail to account for property losses, such as barns and irrigation systems, which are expected to be extensive.
“I’ve seen farms where there is just nothing left,” said Steve Nelson, president of the NFB. “Every building, the house, is just pretty much gone.”
Amid unusual snow melts and heavy spring rain, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, and other parts of the region are also seeing overwhelming floods. Precipitation in the upper Mississippi and Red River of the North has been more than two times what’s expected in a typical season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
There is no end to flooding in sight, national weather officials say, and risks aren’t limited to the Midwest.
Nearly two-thirds of the country is at risk of flooding through May, the NOAA said Thursday. About half of those states face the potential for major or moderate flooding, situations that could affect nearly 200 million Americans this season.
“The extensive flooding we’ve seen in the past two weeks will continue through May and become more dire and may be exacerbated in the coming weeks as the water flows downstream,” said Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center. “This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season.”
This all comes at an already difficult time for farmers across the country. Facing historically low commodity prices and retaliatory tariffs levied in the US-China trade war, many are operating on thin margins.