Farmers Miss Out on Disaster Money

Farmers along the Missouri River are seeing red at news that they missed a deadline to sign up for disaster aid.

The flooding was a part of last summer’s extreme weather than extended across much of the country. In order to control water levels along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, which had risen dangerously due to heavy rainfall and spring thaws, the Army Corp of Engineers released massive amounts of water from upstream reservoirs.

The flooding, which began in June, only receded in the last few months, with many farmers in Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri experiencing flooded cropland as late as October.

Over $300 million in federal funds are set aside to help farmers recover from floods. The money, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program, helps farmers clear drainage ditches, repair levees, and reshape eroded banks.

The problem that many farmers are experiencing, however, is that the deadline for application was June 30, too early for many farmers who experienced flooding in the fall. In addition, given the lateness that the water receded, remaining in place well into the fall, many farmers were unable to fully assess the damage until well after the deadline had passed.

In the words of one Missouri farmers, “It certainly is disappointing that we can’t have access to funds that are basically earmarked for disasters like this.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack promised that the USDA would work with farmers to ensure that they get federal support. “We will continue to work with our existing programs to give them as much help as possible,” he said.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer