Politico says flooding added a lot of money to federal crop insurance payouts last year during the growing season. The bill is $6.4 billion so far, the costliest payout on record. Most of the money is tied directly to spring and summer flooding in states like North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Illinois.
Meteorologist Steve Bowen, who works for a national insurance company, analyzed USDA data. “Given the record rainfall that occurred and the multiple waves of flooding that affected areas across the Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas River basins, the heightened impacts are not terribly surprising,” Bowen says. “Last year was a very tough season for farmers, and there are concerns that already saturated soils across the Plains and Midwest may set the stage for more possible flooding in 2020.”
Last year wasn’t the worst in terms of overall economic costs. Taking in the amount of damage to agriculture, infrastructure, and other property, the 1993 floods along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers remain the costliest disaster in modern history, coming in at $38 billion in today’s dollars.
Last year’s disaster cost about $20 billion. Last year, USDA economists found that more frequent and intense storms will ratchet up the price of crop insurance between four and 22 percent, depending on the future rates of greenhouse gas emissions.