OPINION Following recent flooding, Midwest farmers and ranchers are staring down immense costs due to crop loss, livestock deaths and building damage. Though U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster-assistance programs can help farmers offset some of those losses, not all damages are eligible for coverage. Most notably, stored crops are not covered by these programs.
In any given year, farmers will store grain post-harvest in anticipation of better prices later on. This year, facing depressed prices from overproduction and international trade disputes, producers stored more of their harvests than they usually do. According to the USDA, in the first two months of 2019 farmers had stored 29 percent more soybeans than they had in the same period in 2018. As a result large quantities of uninsured corn and soy were swept away in floods. By some estimates at least 832 storage bins collectively holding 5 million to 10 million bushels of stored grain were located in flooded areas, costing farmers between $17.3 million and $34.6 million.
There has been talk of supplementary emergency assistance for those affected by recent extreme weather events, but so far no additional aid has materialized. Unfortunately it appears that many of those communities are not out of the woods yet. Recently another spring storm hit the Midwest as well as Central and Northern Plains, which could cause further damage to crops and livestock as well as delay important fieldwork.
For those concerned about farmers affected by extreme weather events, we ask them to donate to Farm Aid’s Family Farm Disaster Assistance Fund. Visit www.farmaid.org and click on “Take Action.”