Missouri River flooding cost Nebraska nearly $189 million

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The spring flooding along the Missouri River cost Nebraska nearly $189 million in lost agricultural crop sales and related economic activity, Nebraska Farm Bureau said news release in announcing the results of a study it commissioned this summer.

"We knew the economic losses to farmers and the state were high, but we wanted to quantify them for future policy discussions," Nebraska Farm Bureau President Keith Olsen said.

The study looked at 14 counties along the Missouri River which border South Dakota or Iowa, said Jay Rempe, an agricultural economist and vice president/governmental relations for Nebraska Farm Bureau.

"$105.8 million of the total ($188.8) is lost crop sales experienced by farmers; the remainder is the economic activity indirectly lost in these areas that did not occur because of the crop losses, such as processing, marketing and distribution or the purchases of agricultural equipment that won't occur.

"The total figure also includes the effects of fewer household purchases by farmers and others who are indirectly involved with the growing of crops in the affected region."

The study also estimated the crop income indirectly lost in these counties resulted in nearly $57.8 million in wages that would have been generated from the growing of crops and supporting activities if the flooding hadn't occurred, he said.

Burt and Washington Counties experienced the highest losses, both topping $28 million in impacts, according to the study.

Nebraska's net farm income for 2011 also will be affected, Rempe said, with the flooding accounting for more than $41 million less than expected if there had there been no flooding event.

The study looked only at lost crops and doesn't include such costs as disaster clean-up, reduced soil productivity, repairs to levees and impacts on buildings, roads and other property, Farm Bureau President Olsen noted.

"$189 million is the impact for Nebraska for 2011, but the farmers who were affected will be dealing with the effects of the flood and lower crop yields for years to come. And that will mean less economic activity in eastern Nebraska for several years to come."

The study was conducted 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.

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Maxine Jones    
Midland, SD  |  October, 21, 2011 at 11:08 AM

The losses are going to be vastly increased when costs of the devastated farmland, including reduced soil productivity, levee and buildings, roads, and other property damage will surely increase the damage dramatically. It is difficult to imagine that returns from farming can ever recoup the losses. Losses of farm products will affect our entire nation, and likely other nations for a long time to come. It is disturbing to realize that had the river been managed FIRST for flood control, with all other uses behind that, damages surely would have been far less. That wildlife and recreation uses have prevailed and put peoples' livlihood, homes, and even personal safety and food production far behind recreation and wildlife seems terribly shortsighted, at best. Criminally negligent comes to mind as a more accurate term!

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