Flooding slams western Iowa soybean farmers

A grain bin site located in Fremont County is inundated with water after flood waters from the Missouri River caused protective levees to give way. The water is causing grain to expand, leading to bins that are bursting. There are currently 56 counties in Iowa approved for federal disaster funding.

Photo by Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

Damage, losses accrue in wake of historic flooding; farmers urged to seek assistance

      Soybean farmers in western Iowa are picking up the pieces after flash floods and rapid snow melt caused ample losses in grain storage and equipment.

      While the waters will take time to recede, farmers should act immediately to mitigate the long-term impact.

      Sidney farmer and Iowa Soybean Association Director Jeff Jorgenson is living the nightmare.

       “This flooding was higher than it was in 2011,” said the farmer from Sidney, a small town located in Fremont County and hit hard by the flooding. “When the Missouri crested March 19, it became a wait and see game. We’re holding our breath and assessing the severity of the long-term damage.”

      The catastrophic floods amidst a downturn in the soybean prices further exasperates the will and patience of farmers. 

      “We know we’re not going to be planting on time. Even if the waters go down and fields dry up, northern states have record snow pact and that moisture has yet to reach us,” said Jorgenson. “There’s a good chance this could happen all over again, especially if we have additional rain events.”

      Jorgenson isn’t the only farmer impacted. Among the 31 growers in Fremont County with grain in storage, over 390,000 bushels of soybeans have been potentially destroyed, with total crop losses estimated at $7.3 million. That number, Jorgenson said, will likely increase as flood waters retreat.

      As if the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China wasn’t enough to slow exports, rampaging flood waters took their toll on roads, bridges and rails.

      “The high and more turbulent river conditions will result in barge transportation being restricted,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.

Barges are unable to operate efficiently amidst flood conditions.

      “If a barge loading facility isn’t able to move products efficiently, there will be a decrease in the price offered to farmers,” Steenhoek said.

      The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) urges farmers to work with their insurance providers and take inventory of any damage. The department’s website, iowaagriculture.gov/news/resources-flooding, provides a list of resources for those impacted.

      “We want to remind farmers that if their grain comes in contact with flood waters it may be adulterated and should not be fed to livestock,” IDALS said in a statement. “Red Cross, Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity are leading the human relief efforts. If individuals want to help with livestock relief, we encourage them to do so on the local level. When times get tough, Iowans come together to help their neighbors.” 

The Iowa Soybean Association (www.iasoybeans.com) implements programs, activities and policies improving the competitiveness of the soybean industry to the benefit of Iowa’s nearly 42,000 soybean farmers. Priorities include production research, market development, environmental programming, communications, producer outreach, consumer engagement, transportation and policy. The association, founded in 1964 and governed by an elected, volunteer board of 22 soybean farmers, is funded by the soybean checkoff and non-checkoff resources. It is fact-based and data driven, dedicated to honesty and transparency and committed to sustaining a strong and vibrant soybean industry through collaboration and partnerships.

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