Tag Archives: Flooding

LINCOLN, NE– To help manage cropland damaged by Nebraska’s severe spring weather, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing funds to plant cover crops on cropland acres. Producers are encouraged to apply by May 17, 2019, or June 21, 2019 at their local USDA Service Center.

Nebraska NRCS State Conservationist Craig Derickson said, “This funding will address resource concerns like erosion and water quality, resulting directly from the March 2019 severe weather damage on cropland acres. Cover crops are an excellent way to provide protection to cropland after conservation work has been completed.  Cover crops can stabilize the soil and improve soil health.”

This funding is available statewide in order to assist the widespread recovery work on cropland acres directly impacted by the severe weather in March.  The highest priority cropland includes land which is unable to be planted with a cash crop and/or harvested in 2019.

Cover crops prevent erosion, improve soil’s physical and biological properties, supply nutrients, suppress weeds, improve the availability of soil water, and break pest cycles along with various other benefits. Cover crops can also potentially be grazed.

Work currently being done to maintain conservation structures as well as sediment removal, debris removal or grading and reshaping can be stabilized and protected from further erosion and damage by planting a cover crop.

Derickson said, “For Nebraska’s cropland that suffered significant damage, planting a cover crop can be a great way to help protect fields and help restore productivity.”

For more information, visit NRCS at a USDA Service Center, or visit www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov

Nebraska Extension and 4-H in Southwest Nebraska is reaching out to our communities to participate in the 4-H’ers Helping 4-H’ers program. The bomb cyclone that created devastating flood and blizzard conditions across much of Nebraska is a month behind us however, the reality of it continues for many families as they work to rebuild what they lost. These events has impacted the lives of many 4-H’ers and we are asking residents and businesses from Arthur, Chase, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Hayes, Hitchcock, Lincoln, Keith, Perkins and Red Willow counties to help us reach the goal of helping 100 4-H’ers with disaster relief. When a 4-H member is in need, we want them to know that Southwest Nebraska cares.

The Nebraska 4-H Foundation is the sponsor of the 4-H’ers Helping 4-H’ers program. It is devoted to helping 4-H members and their families in times of need through generous donations. When disaster strikes, no matter how large or small, 4-H’ers Helping 4-H’ers will be there to help! The Foundation seeks contributions year round to be used to help 4-H’ers and families for major disasters such as flood, tornado, blizzard, loss of home due to fire, or serious illness.

This program is being used by 4-H’ers and families whose life has been impacted by the recent floods and blizzards in Nebraska. A committee meets weekly to award funds to those that have applied to this program and qualify.

4-H’ers Helping 4-H’ers funds are available to any Nebraska 4-H family, who has been impacted by a disaster and has been recommended for support by a 4-H parent or guardian, 4-H volunteer, or 4-H alumni. Grants are limited to $100 for an individual and $500 for a family. There is no deadline to apply to atne4hfoundation.org/

Donations may be dropped off or mailed to your local Nebraska Extension Office or given directly through the Nebraska 4-H Foundation at ne4hfoundation.org100% of donations will go help 4H’ers and 4-H families.

Contact your local Nebraska Extension office if you have questions.

The Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund is providing financial assistance on a statewide basis to needy or distressed cattle producers in Nebraska impacted by Winter Storm Ulmer/Bomb Cyclone.

Eligible applicants under the Fund include any cattle producer with an operation located in a county or tribal area falling under an emergency or disaster declaration made by the Nebraska Governor or Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Moreover, applicants must demonstrate genuine need or distress as a result of the disaster by providing relevant asset information and certifying their assets are not sufficient or adequate to rebuild from the damage suffered.

 

Membership in Nebraska Cattlemen is NOT required for an applicant to receive relief.

 

Submitted applications must be fully completed and have all required eligible expense documentation attached or enclosed to be considered. Applicants may submit documentation and requests for reimbursement for cattle production expenses not paid for by insurance or other governmental sources, including but not limited to costs for rebuilding and recovery for lost fencing and pens, feed, livestock/carcass removal or other necessary cattle production costs directly related to rebuilding from the winter storm.   Documentation can include copies of receipts for purchases of supplies, invoices for repairs, photos of damage, etc.

 

Applicant must demonstrate that expenses/losses incurred were related to cattle production and directly caused by recent storms and flooding as the result of Winter Storm Ulmer/Bomb Cyclone in the State of Nebraska.

 

Submitted applications will be reviewed individually by a committee selected by the Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund Board of Directors. Eligibility for financial assistance will be determined on a case-by-case basis with the goal of distributing relief so as to maximize the Fund’s charitable impact to support cattle producers in Nebraska. The total amount that each applicant will be eligible to receive will be determined after the application period ends in accordance with the above stated impact goal. The review committee has the right to reject any and all applications for any reason.

 

Applications must be completed and have all required documentation to be considered.
Applications for relief must be postmarked by May 31, 2019. No application will be considered if postmarked after that date.

 

Completed applications must be mailed to 4611 Cattle Drive, Lincoln, NE 68521 or scanned and e-mailed to disasterrelief@necattlemen.org.

As devastating images of the 2019 Midwest floods fade from view, an insidious and longer-term problem is emerging across its vast plains: The loss of topsoil that much of the nation’s food supply relies on.

Today, Midwest farmers are facing millions of bushels of damaged crops such as soybean and corn. This spring’s heavy rains have already caused record flooding, which could continue into May and June, and some government officials have said it could take farmers years to recover.

Long after the rains stop, floodwaters continue to impact soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties that all plants rely on for proper growth. Just as very wet soils would prevent a homeowner from tending his or her garden, large amounts of rainfall prevent farmers from entering a wet field with machinery. Flooding can also drain nutrients out of the soil that are necessary for plant growth as well as reduce oxygen needed for plant roots to breathe, and gather water and nutrients.

As scientists who have a combined 80 years of experience studying soil processes, we see clearly that many long-term problems farmers face from floodwaters are steeped in the soil. This leads us to conclude that farmers may need to take far more active measures to manage soil health in the future as weather changes occur more drastically due to climate change and other factors.

Here are some of the perils with flooded farmland that can affect the nation’s food supply.

Suffocating soil

When soil is saturated by excessive flooding, soil pores are completely filled with water and have little to no oxygen present. Much like humans, plants need oxygen to survive, with the gas taken into plants via leaves and roots. Also identical to humans, plants – such as farm crops – can’t breathe underwater.

Essentially, excess and prolonged flooding kills plant roots because they can’t breathe. Dead plant roots in turn lead to death of aboveground plant, or crop, growth.

Another impact of flooding is compacted soil. This often occurs when heavy machinery is run over wet or saturated farmland. When soils become compacted, future root growth and oxygen supply are limited. Thus, severe flooding can delay or even prevent planting for the entire growing season, causing significant financial loss to farmers.

Loss of soil nutrients

When flooding events occur, such as overwatering your garden or as with the 2019 Midwest flooding, excess water can flush nutrients out of the soil. This happens by water running offsite, leaching into and draining through the ground, or even through the conversion of nutrients from a form that plants can utilize to a gaseous form that is lost from the soil to the atmosphere.

Regardless of whether you are a backyard gardener or large-scale farmer, these conditions can lead to delays in crop planting, reduced crop yields, lower nutritive value in crops and increased costs in terms of extra fertilizers used. There is also the increased stress within the farming community – or for you, the backyard gardener who couldn’t plant over the weekend due to excess rainfall. This ultimately increases the risk of not producing ample food over time.

Small microbial changes have big effects

Flooding on grand scales causes soils to become water-saturated for longer than normal periods of time. This, in turn, affects soil microorganisms that are beneficial for nutrient cycling.

Flooded soils may encounter problems caused by the loss of a specific soil microorganism, arbuscular mycorrhizae fungi. These fungi colonize root systems in about 90% to 95% of all plants on Earth in a mutually beneficial relationship.

The fungi receive energy in the form of carbon from the plant. As the fungi extend thread-like tendrils into the soil to scavenge for nutrients, they create a zone where nutrients can be taken up more easily by the plant. This, in turn, benefits nutrient uptake and nutritive value of crops.

When microbial activity is interrupted, nutrients don’t ebb and flow within soils in the way that is needed for proper crop growth. Crops grown in previously flooded fields may be affected due to the absence of a microbial community that is essential for maintaining proper plant growth.

The current Midwest flooding has far-reaching effects on soil health that may last many years. Recovering from these types of extreme events will likely require active management of soil to counteract the negative long-term effects of flooding. This may include the adoption of conservation systems that include the use of cover crops, no-till or reduced-till systems, and the use of perennials grasses, to name few. These types of systems may allow for better soil drainage and thus lessen flooding severity in soils.

Farmers have the ability to perform these management practices, but only if they can afford to convert over to these new systems; not all farmers are that fortunate. Until improvements in management practices are resolved, future flooding will likely continue to leave large numbers of Midwest fields vulnerable to producing lower crop yields or no crop at all.

Midwest lawmakers last week introduced a bill that would provide tax relief for disaster victims stemming from events this spring. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa announced the Tax Relief Act of 2019.

The bill would provide tax deductions for individuals and businesses affected by federally declared disasters that occurred between January 1, 2019 and April 15, 2019, including flooding in the Midwest and tornadoes in the South. Benefits under the bill include special rules allowing access to retirement funds, a special credit for employee retention during business interruption, suspension of limits on deductions for certain charitable contributions, special rules for deductions for disaster-related personal casualty losses, and special rules for measurement of earned income for purposes of qualification for tax credits.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst joined Grassley and says the bill would “help provide important and badly-needed relief for Iowans in disaster areas.”

Senators from states that are still recovering from natural disasters met with President Trump at the White House to talk about stalled disaster aid.

The House passed a bill that failed to advance in the Senate. Politico says the legislation has been bogged down for months over a dispute about U.S. aid to Puerto Rico. Roll Call Dot Com says Hurricane Maria battered the island in 2017 and Congress set aside billions of dollars in assistance. However, some $20 billion in rebuilding aid hasn’t been spent yet and President Trump has accused Puerto Rico officials of mismanaging the aid. Senate Republicans have introduced a $13 billion aid package, which includes $600 million in additional assistance to Puerto Rico. Democrats want an additional $462 million for the long-term rebuilding of the country.

House Democrats introduced a $17.2 billion bill last week that builds on the House version while adding an additional $3 billion to help Midwest flooding victims recover. Another winter storm dumped heavy snow on parts of the Plains and the Midwest last week. At one point, almost 90,000 people were without power in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The additional precipitation and snow melt could cause another surge in the Missouri River after severe flooding swamped farmlands and grain storage sites last month.

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says farmers ought to be eligible for federal compensation for grain lost in flooded bins this spring. At nearly the same time, House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson called for a one-time payment to flooded grain operators.

Insurance policies typically cover grain bins and the equipment needed to move the grain. However, that doesn’t apply to the contents of the grain bins. The USDA says none of the agency’s disaster programs cover stored grain hit by floods. The problem is farmers are storing larger-than-normal amounts of grain because of past bumper crops and an ongoing trade war. “I think we can do a one-time thing to try and help people with that,” Peterson says. What makes the flooding even worse for farmers is grain cannot be sold for food use if it’s been contaminated by flooding because of possible mold and fungal development.

On Capitol Hill, Perdue compared flooded grains in bins to flooded grain fields, saying, “If it was flooded prior to harvest, would we have compensated for it? Yes. Just because it’s in the bin, does that make it different? They haven’t marketed that. I think it’s something we should consider.”

With flood waters beginning to recede on more than a million acres of farmland in the Midwest, growers will be wanting to restore their operations. Reinke Manufacturing is reminding you of some critical safety guidelines.

  • Wait for the waters to completely recede.
  • Contact your dealership to inspect your system for needed repairs or to restore power to your center pivot and other irrigation equipment.
    • Do NOT attempt to do this yourself as there could be additional electrical safety hazards due to debris striking electrical components on equipment, broken power lines and other unforeseen dangers.
    • Your local dealership has a great deal of experience with irrigation systems and will be more likely to notice additional damage, problems or needed repairs before you go on-site or contact your insurance company.
    • *Be Aware* – Some areas are requiring a permit before restoring any form of power. Your local dealership will know how to find this information.
  • Contact your insurance company to file a claim. Claims should be completed as soon as possible.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the farmers and ranchers who are suffering because of the historic flooding that has hit the Midwest,” said Chris Roth, Reinke President. “Many of us have never seen this level of flooding before, so we wanted to make sure growers are safe as they head out into their fields. Your safety is of the utmost importance.”

WASHINGTON (DTN) — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said Tuesday he sees the need to help farmers with losses in grain bins from Midwest floods. But he said the notion $3 billion is needed for Midwest disaster aid is “baloney.”

Peterson, D-Minn., met Tuesday with members of the North American Agricultural Journalists and spoke about several topics. On disaster aid, Peterson said inserting Midwest aid into a current disaster bill in the Senate could potentially hold up needed aid for Southern farmers whose farms were hit hard by hurricanes last year.

“The Southerners need this,” Peterson said. “They have a lot of crops that don’t traditionally get into crop insurance that were damaged during a tough time in the cycle. Pecan trees and peaches and so forth that are not in the normal farm-program disaster deal. So they need this $3 billion deal they have been working on for the South.”

Now, the Midwest flooding has come into play. “That’s getting tangled up with this because people are playing politics with it and making it sound like the government’s got to come in with a big disaster deal and save people,” Peterson said.

The states of Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Missouri were hit by a powerful storm in mid-March that caused rapid flooding of several rivers that are tributaries to the Missouri River. Dozens of communities were flooded in those states, causing extensive damage to roads, bridges and levees. Both livestock and grain farmers suffered major financial losses.

Now a similar storm, dubbed “bomb cyclones,” is expected to again develop in the Rockies and turn into a blizzard and heavy rains across Plains states and the Midwest. The storm will bring snow, rain and high winds across several states. Beyond hitting those areas already hit by floods, the latest cycle of storms will likely further delay fieldwork and spring planting.

Midwest lawmakers have pushed to include disaster aid for floods into legislation in the U.S. Senate.

For farmers hit by those storms and floods, Peterson said the 2018 farm bill deals with most of their needs already.

“The truth is, for farmers, everything that was damaged was covered in the farm bill,” Peterson said. “Ninety-eight percent of those people have crop insurance. We have the Livestock Indemnity Program. We have the Livestock Forage Program. We have all of these other programs that kick in now that we didn’t used to have.”

The congressman did note that farmers who lost crops in grain bins should be eligible for an indemnity payment and Congress should work to make that happen.

“The only thing that’s not covered is this grain that was damaged,” Peterson said. “And we have more grain being stored now than we’ve ever had because of these low prices and these tariffs.”

Peterson added, “I think we can do a one-time thing to try to help people with that. But one thing that should come in here is you could have bought insurance. So this is something that is going to come up, but you could have bought insurance.”

But Peterson said of the notion of spending $3 billion in disaster aid for the Midwest, “That’s a bunch of baloney.”

Nebraska and Iowa officials have pegged disaster losses from infrastructure and agriculture at around $1.5 billion in each state. Missouri officials have not detailed the total losses.

Peterson added that farmers who lost grain in bins likely could have bought a property and casualty insurance policy for stored grain, though he noted it would likely have been expensive to purchase. Farmers who lost crops have repeatedly also expressed worry that they will have to rely on prevented planting insurance on their fields, and prevented planting indemnities may only cover a small portion of their lost income from 2019.

Bill Northey, USDA’s undersecretary for farm production and conservation, told reporters Monday that Congress is looking at a disaster bill to allow some coverage for those grain losses, though it’s unclear just how that disaster coverage will look.

“We don’t have anything in our programs now,” Northey said.

To help with the Midwest disaster, the Emergency Conservation Program and programs like it probably need more funding, Peterson said. “The rest of it is in the farm bill, and that’s something a lot of people don’t understand.”

In the South, Peterson said, hurricanes hit right before the pecan harvest, and there are farmers who lost 70% to 80% of their trees. Those farmers will take years to reestablish their orchards, he said.

“Now you have got people saying, ‘Well, unless we do something for Iowa, we can’t do anything for these other people.’ In the South, you have got a lot of people who are going to go out of business because there’s no help for them and they are supposed to be planting right now. You are going to see a lot of these farmers go out of business.”

Peterson suggested Congress should finish legislation with Southern disaster aid separately, then work on a program for stored grain losses in the Midwest.

“I’m for it, but I don’t want to hold up the Southern disaster aid for three months while we’re fighting over this Midwest thing,” he said. “And some of it is not even real. Some people are making it seem like we’re not doing anything for Midwest farmers. Everything is covered except for this grain bin thing. The rest of it is covered by the farm bill.”

In the Red River Valley, where Peterson noted there is often flooding, he got the Natural Resources Conservation Service director in 2009 to fund ring dikes around farms in the valley. “So we don’t flood anymore and the grain bins are protected, along with the house,” Peterson said.

It’s common that anytime there is a disaster bill, another disaster strikes, said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

“Anytime you do a disaster program and you try to address the problems of each state or each crop or each region, then you have another disaster or area that has been affected, as well, and there are hard feelings in terms of ‘Wait a minute, we’re not being covered by that bill,'” Roberts said.

Before the Midwest floods hit, the disaster package moving through Congress primarily was meant to help farmers and businesses in Georgia, Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico that were hit by hurricanes, as well as funding for recovery from wildfires in California. The disaster package got held up in the Senate because Democrats still want more aid for Puerto Rico and Senate Republicans are resisting that funding.

Roberts added, “Time is of the essence, and we have to get it done.”

The Army Corps of Engineers is holding meetings this week about flood risks in major communities along the Missouri River, including meetings in Fort Pierre, South Dakota; and Sioux City, Iowa; on Wednesday, as well as Smithville, Missouri; and Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Thursday. For more information about the meetings, visit http://www.nwd-mr.usace.army.mil/….

State officials have said they want more control over flood protection along the Missouri River. The United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is planning to hold a field hearing from 9-11 a.m. Wednesday, April 17, in Glenwood, Iowa. The hearing will focus on Missouri River management and the current flooding situation in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska.

 As part of ongoing efforts to support those affected by recent flooding, Nebraska Extension county offices across the state have moisture meters available for homeowners to borrow to monitor the moisture content of flooded materials.

 

It can take weeks or months to dry a house to the point where repairs can be made. It’s common for homeowners to discover large amounts of mold in walls months after a flood because they didn’t wait for the structure to dry before making repairs. The moisture level of structures cannot be determined by appearance or time spent drying, so a calibrated meter is recommended to measure moisture levels before rebuilding.

 

“It’s important to wait until wood and other materials dry out before attempting to repair a flood-damaged home,” said Dave Varner, associate dean with Nebraska Extension. “Renovating too soon could trap moisture, leading to rotting and promoting the growth of mold.”

 

One-hundred-fifty moisture meters have been distributed to extension offices throughout Nebraska and more are on the way. Homeowners wanting to borrow a meter are encouraged to contact their county office. Instructions for using the meter will be provided upon checkout.

 

Access to moisture meters is just one of the many ways that Nebraska Extension is helping Nebraskans recover from the flood. For more information and flood-related resources for individuals and families, homeowners, businesses, and farmers and ranchers, visit https://flood.unl.edu.