Missouri River flooding cost Nebraska nearly $189 million, according to the Nebraska Farm Bureau.
The Farm Bureau commissioned a study this summer of the impact of flooding in 14 Nebraska counties along the Missouri River which border South Dakota or Iowa. The study pegs the loss of crop sales and related economic activity at $188.8 million. Of that total, the loss of crops this summer is estimated to total $105.8 million with the remainder being loss indirect economic activity such as the sale to fuel or equipment. The study estimates that $57.8 million in wages was lost, because a crop year was lost. Burt and Washington Counties, according to the study, suffered the most with economic losses in those two counties topping $28 million.
Nebraska Farm Bureau President Keith Olsen says farmers in the counties affected seem to remain optimistic despite the difficult year. He adds that battling Mother Nature is part of farming.
“We deal with nature every day in our farming operations and we have to do what we can to have as much protection as we (can) and handle the risk, but we still understand Mother Nature is in control,” Olsen tells the Brownfield Farm Network.
Many have blamed the United States Corps of Engineers more than Mother Nature. The Corps released unprecedented amounts of water from the six dams upstream on the Missouri River as heavy snow run-off up north combined with extremely heavy spring rains to swamp the six Missouri River reservoirs. The upstream releases kept floodwaters high throughout the summer and into the fall, only receding back into the river’s banks in October.
Olsen hesitates to criticize how the Corps managed the river.
“That’s so hard to know, because we don’t know what Mother Nature is going to do. We get a dry winter and very little snow, a dry spring and that totally changes the situation,” according to Olsen. “Man cannot control all of it.”
Olsen says no one knows what it will take to restore the farmland flooded this summer.
The study was conducted for the Farm Bureau by Decision Innovation Solutions of Urbandale, Iowa, which also studied the economic impacts of the flooding on Iowa, on behalf of the Iowa Farm Bureau. The flood’s impact on six Iowa southwestern counties was pegged at $207 million.
Brownfield Farm Network’s Ken Anderson contributed to this report.