Right now, farmers and ranchers impacted by flooding are facing a myriad of issues. While use of equipment and potentially buying and selling equipment may not be immediately top-of-mind, it is one of the areas that will arise in the weeks and months ahead.

Mark Othmer, Nebraska Field Director for the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association (I-NEDA), said, “Right now, dealers are providing assistance to customers who are just determining what and how extensive their losses are. There will be a need for some specialty equipment soon, such as dirt scrapers, to move soil back to tillable acres and remove sand from tillable acres.”

Mark Othmer Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association

Mark Othmer, Nebraska Field Director for the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association

“I doubt that buying and selling equipment at this point is anywhere near a flood victim’s thought process,” Othmer continued. “For farmers or ranchers not affected by flood, they should be very aware of any new or used equipment they buy that is shipped in from out of state. They definitely should ask the question about whether it has been in a flood or not.”

Ron McClain, director of Pricing and Sales Support for Big Iron Auctions, agreed that everyone needs to be conscious of flood-related equipment issues, “From a seller’s perspective, misrepresenting equipment to buyers is often an incredibly expensive mistake that can be avoided by using the tried-and-true value of honesty. Make sure you understand how the equipment was impacted, the degree in which it was impacted, and how the warranty could be impacted. This all can affect the sales price of your equipment. Get a professional assessment. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it. It’s about taking the time to fully assess the damage and communicate honestly with buyers.”

Ron McClain Big Iron Auctions

Ron McClain, director of Pricing and Sales Support for Big Iron Auctions

“One often overlooked reality that sellers need to keep in mind is that flood water contains contaminants other than water, soil and silt,” McClain pointed out. “Corrosive damage may not have tangible visual or mechanical effects until months or years after a flood. It takes more than just drying up the equipment and starting it up, and you must take care and precaution when testing equipment after a flood.”

Sellers are expected to change fluids and filters, if applicable. Electronics need to be dried and internal mechanisms need to be maintained in accordance with manufacturer recommendations, McClain explained, “It is also essential to dry out the operator’s cab in heavy equipment as soon as possible to prevent mold and mildew from forming.”

McClain said buyers should see the equipment in-person before purchasing, “If there is any suspicion of flood or weather damage to the equipment, the buyer should do what they can to look for any visible damage. Look for ‘water marks’ that would show flood damage. Pull the dipstick to see if the oil has been affected. Review sight glasses for any indication of contamination. It’s important to keep an eye out for a stamp or sticker that reads ‘Flood’ or ‘Salvage.’ This is a requirement for some states. Look for mismatching cloth materials, such as a discolored cloth or paint, which can be a sign of water damage.”

“Generally, a flood-damaged piece of equipment will smell moldy,” McClain added. “If you smell mold right away, walk away. Test drive the equipment and listen for unusual sounds or alarms. Another important thing that is often overlooked is the oil fluid. Be sure to check for flood-affected oil, as it will be a different color (like coffee or a chocolate milkshake). It should also be sticky to the touch. Lastly, be sure to have a mechanic take a look if there is anything you are unsure about.”

Both Othmer and McClain agreed that transparency in the buy/sell scenario is the most important. They stressed the best scenario is an auction house that is very transparent and ensures that contact information for both the buyer and seller are available. Right now, the assessment stage of so much more than equipment is top-of-mind, Othmer said, “The governor’s special briefing for agriculture was held at the Cattlemen’s association office in Lincoln. Several agencies were there updating everyone on damages and what these state and federal agencies were doing to mitigate losses. Everyone is still attempting to determine the extent of loss of livestock, stored grain, water wells and infrastructure.”

“The state has 275 miles of roads that will need to be rebuilt and 15 bridges,” Othmer went on. “This is state only and doesn’t account for all the losses of county roads and bridges. It may well be years before all rebuilding is complete. The state hopes to have most roads passable soon, but bridges will be a longer-term issue. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) discussed several issues concerning proper disposal of animal carcasses, feedlot and confinement lagoon release of waste.”

“If a dealer is helping a customer who needs assistance, the best, first stop is the local Farm

Service Agency (FSA) office for each county. They will have access to all federal programs available for flood and blizzard assistance,” Othmer said. “For immediate animal carcass disposal needs or drinking water needs the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has established a hotline at 877-253-2603. There is also a Nebraska Department of Ag hotline 800-831-0550. For mental and stress issues anyone may be having due to pressure from disaster issues, a rural response line is available 800-464-0258.”