If your farmstead flooded, the rest of the Cornbelt pours out its sympathy to you. Many farmsteads have been lost, whether they were in the New Madrid Floodway in southeastern Missouri, or somewhere along the Ohio, Mississippi, or Missouri Rivers and their many tributaries. Flood waters have washed through machine sheds and have seeped into grain bins. Since grain is a commodity that ostensibly has value, can you market grain that has seen floodwaters if it has been dried or not overtly damaged?
Your state may have specific laws regarding the sale or use of flood damaged grain, but where there is no guidance, the US Food and Drug Administration’s policy is that grain may be reconditioned where flood waters are not contaminated, but before it is reconditioned the FDA must provide written approval. That is the message from the Iowa Department of Agriculture where flood damage to grain bins has been reported.
Iowa State University grain quality specialist Charles Hurburgh says with only a few exceptions can flood soaked grain be used for either food or feed. He said grain that has been soaked with flood water has been adulterated with contaminants in the water and should be destroyed under the direction of local health and sanitation officials. Hurburgh says floodwater can enter elevators through drains and pits, and around farm bin sites it may have accumulated chemicals from field tiles.
If a bin has been surrounded by floodwater, Hurburgh says the contaminated grain will be limited to that which has been submerged and up to a foot above the waterline. On top of that the grain may not be damaged, and would need to be removed from the bin through the top or the side, but not through the damaged grain. And he says remove the good grain before trying to handle the spoiled grain, and don’t try to start your dryer fans.
The wet grain will likely contain molds and other toxins which are a safety hazard, and anyone working with such grain should have the proper personal protection equipment. And he says to protect unspoiled grain from mud or other debris that might have come in contact with floodwater.
Regarding the reconditioning process, Hurburgh says the FDA will allow the grain to be washed and dried at high temperature where it was in contact with floodwaters for only a short period of time, and where the water was known to not contain any contaminants. But he questions how you would know if the floodwater was clean.