Tag Archives: Flooding

U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is in Japan this week, talking with officials from America’s fourth-largest agricultural customer. In a Twitter post, the secretary says he was on the phone with President Trump and discussed the increase in tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports and the negative impact it will have on farmers.

Perdue’s tweet says, “While China may backtrack, @POTUS is steadfast in his support for U.S. farmers. He directed @USDA to quickly put together a plan to help American farmers. @POTUS loves his farmers and will not let them down!” Perdue will make stops in Japan and South Korea, participating in the G-20 Agriculture Minister’s Meeting.

President Trump said in a Friday Twitter post that the increase in the tariffs will be used to buy farm goods. He expects the new duties to generate more than $100 billion in extra revenue. The president was unhappy with the pace of negotiations and increased duties from 10 to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. In a Friday tweet, Trump said, “You’re all-time favorite president got tired of waiting for China to help out and start buying from our FARMERS, the greatest anywhere in the world!” Beijing has promised to retaliate in kind.

LINCOLN, NEB. – “We looked around and didn’t know where to start. The devastation was so overwhelming, but the check we received from the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund helped us take the first step and know that we are not alone. We are so grateful,” said Tom and Fran Geisler, who farm and raise cattle near Hooper.

“The kindness and generosity of people across Nebraska and the United States is humbling,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. “More than $2 million has been collected for the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund, with 100 percent of funds raised going to farmers, ranchers, and rural communities in need of assistance,” said Nelson.

According to the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), 104 cities, 81 counties, and five tribal areas have had emergency declarations. The cost of the damage by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture is estimated at $440 million in crop losses; and $400 million in cattle losses. Other estimates include $449 million in damages to roads, levees, and other infrastructure across the state.

“For us to continue to rebuild our farms, ranches, and rural communities, it will take patience and perseverance to get through the magnitude of the loss and destruction,” said Nelson. “While the response to this fund has been overwhelming, we have seen requests for aid come into the Disaster Relief Fund totaling more than what we currently have in the fund. The amount we have raised doesn’t meet the assistance already requested, and additional applications are received each day.”

The fund was established at the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit, so donations meet the criteria for qualified charitable contributions for tax purposes.

“When we first started the fund, the immediate need in rural areas was water, food, shelter, and medicine for people and animals,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation.

“As health and safety situations stabilize, other needs have emerged, including clearing flood debris from pastures, fields, and homes; rebuilding fences to protect livestock; paying for extra fuel to deliver hay to stranded cattle; and helping restore fresh water to residents and animals in places like Boyd County,” said Schafer.

At Chance Ridge near Elkhorn, funds from the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund have been used to buy fuel, food, and lodging for those volunteering to help with clean up. “We serve as a delivery hub for hay and other supplies,” said Autumn Rock of Chance Ridge Event Center. “Because of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund, we were able to help more than 150 farmers from across the state and keep more than 10-thousand head of cattle alive. This fund is truly making a difference.”

The need for assistance, both short term and long term, continues to grow. Each day there are different requests, and the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund stands ready to help farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.

“The repairs and recovery from this disaster will take a huge amount of resources. The next step is to provide support for intermediate and long-term recovery efforts in areas where there are gaps in availability of insurance coverage and government assistance,” said Nelson.

“We continue to seek financial donations to meet the growing aid requests coming into the Disaster Relief Fund,” said Schafer. “Every dollar counts. When we all give, we come together as one community, making Nebraska stronger.”

To donate, apply for aid, or access other disaster assistance resources, visit www.nefb.org/disaster.

LINCOLN, NE May 2, 2019 – Nebraska farmers and ranchers impacted by the “Bomb Cyclone” and raging flood waters this spring are working hard on cleaning up and assessing the damages to their ag operations.

One of the more significant losses experienced by landowners has been the death of livestock. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has financial assistance available to help landowners cope with the aftermath of livestock losses.

Through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program – commonly referred to as EQIP farmers and ranchers can apply for financial assistance to properly dispose of dead livestock. Applications are being accepted now through July 1. This is an extension of the original sign up periods announced immediately following the flooding/blizzard.

NRCS State Conservationist Craig Derickson said, “We want to ensure this assistance continues to be available to producers still dealing with the aftermath of this unprecedented and devastating event for Nebraska. NRCS conservationists are available to provide technical and financial assistance to help producers dispose of livestock carcasses in a safe manner.”

Producers who have not already disposed of livestock can apply for EQIP now. Producers can then get a waiver to allow them to begin working to dispose of deceased livestock before having an approved EQIP contract.

“Typically, producers cannot begin working on an EQIP practice before their EQIP contract has been approved. But since this situation is so time-critical, NRCS is encouraging producers to sign up for EQIP first, then submit a waiver to go ahead and begin animal disposal prior to having their EQIP contract approved,” Derickson said.

Producers in the area who suffered other damages due to the blizzard and flooding – such as damaged fencing, water sources, or windbreaks – may also seek assistance from NRCS through general EQIP funding. The sign-up period for general EQIP is continuous and has no cut off application date.

Derickson said, “NRCS is committed to helping producers get back on their feet after these extreme weather events while also ensuring Nebraska’s natural environment remains healthy and productive.”

For more information about the programs and assistance available from NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Center or www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers updated its near-term forecast for the Missouri River this week as the basin prepares for mountain snowpack to melt and collect in the system.

The three-week forecast calls for increased water output from the Missouri River water control facilities along the river. Currently, system reservoirs are below their exclusive flood control pool elevations. However, as the mountain snowpack melts, the pool elevations will increase significantly. Storing water in the exclusive flood control pools at reservoirs in the middle of the system limits flexibility for reducing flood risk from upstream or downstream rain events.

Thus, officials say they will maintain release levels higher than inflows. Gavins Point releases are forecast to remain steady at 55,000 cubic feet per second to continue evacuating runoff from the spring plains snowmelt. John Remus, chief of the Corps’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, says fluctuations to river stages downstream from Gavins Point are possible due to rain events occurring downstream from Gavins Point. Some areas downstream are still at flood stage and have been since last month’s bomb cyclone weather event.

LINCOLN, NE– To help manage cropland damaged by Nebraska’s severe spring weather, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing funds to plant cover crops on cropland acres. Producers are encouraged to apply by May 17, 2019, or June 21, 2019 at their local USDA Service Center.

Nebraska NRCS State Conservationist Craig Derickson said, “This funding will address resource concerns like erosion and water quality, resulting directly from the March 2019 severe weather damage on cropland acres. Cover crops are an excellent way to provide protection to cropland after conservation work has been completed.  Cover crops can stabilize the soil and improve soil health.”

This funding is available statewide in order to assist the widespread recovery work on cropland acres directly impacted by the severe weather in March.  The highest priority cropland includes land which is unable to be planted with a cash crop and/or harvested in 2019.

Cover crops prevent erosion, improve soil’s physical and biological properties, supply nutrients, suppress weeds, improve the availability of soil water, and break pest cycles along with various other benefits. Cover crops can also potentially be grazed.

Work currently being done to maintain conservation structures as well as sediment removal, debris removal or grading and reshaping can be stabilized and protected from further erosion and damage by planting a cover crop.

Derickson said, “For Nebraska’s cropland that suffered significant damage, planting a cover crop can be a great way to help protect fields and help restore productivity.”

For more information, visit NRCS at a USDA Service Center, or visit www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov

Nebraska Extension and 4-H in Southwest Nebraska is reaching out to our communities to participate in the 4-H’ers Helping 4-H’ers program. The bomb cyclone that created devastating flood and blizzard conditions across much of Nebraska is a month behind us however, the reality of it continues for many families as they work to rebuild what they lost. These events has impacted the lives of many 4-H’ers and we are asking residents and businesses from Arthur, Chase, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Hayes, Hitchcock, Lincoln, Keith, Perkins and Red Willow counties to help us reach the goal of helping 100 4-H’ers with disaster relief. When a 4-H member is in need, we want them to know that Southwest Nebraska cares.

The Nebraska 4-H Foundation is the sponsor of the 4-H’ers Helping 4-H’ers program. It is devoted to helping 4-H members and their families in times of need through generous donations. When disaster strikes, no matter how large or small, 4-H’ers Helping 4-H’ers will be there to help! The Foundation seeks contributions year round to be used to help 4-H’ers and families for major disasters such as flood, tornado, blizzard, loss of home due to fire, or serious illness.

This program is being used by 4-H’ers and families whose life has been impacted by the recent floods and blizzards in Nebraska. A committee meets weekly to award funds to those that have applied to this program and qualify.

4-H’ers Helping 4-H’ers funds are available to any Nebraska 4-H family, who has been impacted by a disaster and has been recommended for support by a 4-H parent or guardian, 4-H volunteer, or 4-H alumni. Grants are limited to $100 for an individual and $500 for a family. There is no deadline to apply to atne4hfoundation.org/

Donations may be dropped off or mailed to your local Nebraska Extension Office or given directly through the Nebraska 4-H Foundation at ne4hfoundation.org100% of donations will go help 4H’ers and 4-H families.

Contact your local Nebraska Extension office if you have questions.

The Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund is providing financial assistance on a statewide basis to needy or distressed cattle producers in Nebraska impacted by Winter Storm Ulmer/Bomb Cyclone.

Eligible applicants under the Fund include any cattle producer with an operation located in a county or tribal area falling under an emergency or disaster declaration made by the Nebraska Governor or Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Moreover, applicants must demonstrate genuine need or distress as a result of the disaster by providing relevant asset information and certifying their assets are not sufficient or adequate to rebuild from the damage suffered.

 

Membership in Nebraska Cattlemen is NOT required for an applicant to receive relief.

 

Submitted applications must be fully completed and have all required eligible expense documentation attached or enclosed to be considered. Applicants may submit documentation and requests for reimbursement for cattle production expenses not paid for by insurance or other governmental sources, including but not limited to costs for rebuilding and recovery for lost fencing and pens, feed, livestock/carcass removal or other necessary cattle production costs directly related to rebuilding from the winter storm.   Documentation can include copies of receipts for purchases of supplies, invoices for repairs, photos of damage, etc.

 

Applicant must demonstrate that expenses/losses incurred were related to cattle production and directly caused by recent storms and flooding as the result of Winter Storm Ulmer/Bomb Cyclone in the State of Nebraska.

 

Submitted applications will be reviewed individually by a committee selected by the Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund Board of Directors. Eligibility for financial assistance will be determined on a case-by-case basis with the goal of distributing relief so as to maximize the Fund’s charitable impact to support cattle producers in Nebraska. The total amount that each applicant will be eligible to receive will be determined after the application period ends in accordance with the above stated impact goal. The review committee has the right to reject any and all applications for any reason.

 

Applications must be completed and have all required documentation to be considered.
Applications for relief must be postmarked by May 31, 2019. No application will be considered if postmarked after that date.

 

Completed applications must be mailed to 4611 Cattle Drive, Lincoln, NE 68521 or scanned and e-mailed to disasterrelief@necattlemen.org.

As devastating images of the 2019 Midwest floods fade from view, an insidious and longer-term problem is emerging across its vast plains: The loss of topsoil that much of the nation’s food supply relies on.

Today, Midwest farmers are facing millions of bushels of damaged crops such as soybean and corn. This spring’s heavy rains have already caused record flooding, which could continue into May and June, and some government officials have said it could take farmers years to recover.

Long after the rains stop, floodwaters continue to impact soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties that all plants rely on for proper growth. Just as very wet soils would prevent a homeowner from tending his or her garden, large amounts of rainfall prevent farmers from entering a wet field with machinery. Flooding can also drain nutrients out of the soil that are necessary for plant growth as well as reduce oxygen needed for plant roots to breathe, and gather water and nutrients.

As scientists who have a combined 80 years of experience studying soil processes, we see clearly that many long-term problems farmers face from floodwaters are steeped in the soil. This leads us to conclude that farmers may need to take far more active measures to manage soil health in the future as weather changes occur more drastically due to climate change and other factors.

Here are some of the perils with flooded farmland that can affect the nation’s food supply.

Suffocating soil

When soil is saturated by excessive flooding, soil pores are completely filled with water and have little to no oxygen present. Much like humans, plants need oxygen to survive, with the gas taken into plants via leaves and roots. Also identical to humans, plants – such as farm crops – can’t breathe underwater.

Essentially, excess and prolonged flooding kills plant roots because they can’t breathe. Dead plant roots in turn lead to death of aboveground plant, or crop, growth.

Another impact of flooding is compacted soil. This often occurs when heavy machinery is run over wet or saturated farmland. When soils become compacted, future root growth and oxygen supply are limited. Thus, severe flooding can delay or even prevent planting for the entire growing season, causing significant financial loss to farmers.

Loss of soil nutrients

When flooding events occur, such as overwatering your garden or as with the 2019 Midwest flooding, excess water can flush nutrients out of the soil. This happens by water running offsite, leaching into and draining through the ground, or even through the conversion of nutrients from a form that plants can utilize to a gaseous form that is lost from the soil to the atmosphere.

Regardless of whether you are a backyard gardener or large-scale farmer, these conditions can lead to delays in crop planting, reduced crop yields, lower nutritive value in crops and increased costs in terms of extra fertilizers used. There is also the increased stress within the farming community – or for you, the backyard gardener who couldn’t plant over the weekend due to excess rainfall. This ultimately increases the risk of not producing ample food over time.

Small microbial changes have big effects

Flooding on grand scales causes soils to become water-saturated for longer than normal periods of time. This, in turn, affects soil microorganisms that are beneficial for nutrient cycling.

Flooded soils may encounter problems caused by the loss of a specific soil microorganism, arbuscular mycorrhizae fungi. These fungi colonize root systems in about 90% to 95% of all plants on Earth in a mutually beneficial relationship.

The fungi receive energy in the form of carbon from the plant. As the fungi extend thread-like tendrils into the soil to scavenge for nutrients, they create a zone where nutrients can be taken up more easily by the plant. This, in turn, benefits nutrient uptake and nutritive value of crops.

When microbial activity is interrupted, nutrients don’t ebb and flow within soils in the way that is needed for proper crop growth. Crops grown in previously flooded fields may be affected due to the absence of a microbial community that is essential for maintaining proper plant growth.

The current Midwest flooding has far-reaching effects on soil health that may last many years. Recovering from these types of extreme events will likely require active management of soil to counteract the negative long-term effects of flooding. This may include the adoption of conservation systems that include the use of cover crops, no-till or reduced-till systems, and the use of perennials grasses, to name few. These types of systems may allow for better soil drainage and thus lessen flooding severity in soils.

Farmers have the ability to perform these management practices, but only if they can afford to convert over to these new systems; not all farmers are that fortunate. Until improvements in management practices are resolved, future flooding will likely continue to leave large numbers of Midwest fields vulnerable to producing lower crop yields or no crop at all.

Midwest lawmakers last week introduced a bill that would provide tax relief for disaster victims stemming from events this spring. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa announced the Tax Relief Act of 2019.

The bill would provide tax deductions for individuals and businesses affected by federally declared disasters that occurred between January 1, 2019 and April 15, 2019, including flooding in the Midwest and tornadoes in the South. Benefits under the bill include special rules allowing access to retirement funds, a special credit for employee retention during business interruption, suspension of limits on deductions for certain charitable contributions, special rules for deductions for disaster-related personal casualty losses, and special rules for measurement of earned income for purposes of qualification for tax credits.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst joined Grassley and says the bill would “help provide important and badly-needed relief for Iowans in disaster areas.”

Senators from states that are still recovering from natural disasters met with President Trump at the White House to talk about stalled disaster aid.

The House passed a bill that failed to advance in the Senate. Politico says the legislation has been bogged down for months over a dispute about U.S. aid to Puerto Rico. Roll Call Dot Com says Hurricane Maria battered the island in 2017 and Congress set aside billions of dollars in assistance. However, some $20 billion in rebuilding aid hasn’t been spent yet and President Trump has accused Puerto Rico officials of mismanaging the aid. Senate Republicans have introduced a $13 billion aid package, which includes $600 million in additional assistance to Puerto Rico. Democrats want an additional $462 million for the long-term rebuilding of the country.

House Democrats introduced a $17.2 billion bill last week that builds on the House version while adding an additional $3 billion to help Midwest flooding victims recover. Another winter storm dumped heavy snow on parts of the Plains and the Midwest last week. At one point, almost 90,000 people were without power in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The additional precipitation and snow melt could cause another surge in the Missouri River after severe flooding swamped farmlands and grain storage sites last month.