Earlier this week, Vilsack met with Iowa farmers and warned them that further federal disaster funds were not likely to be released by the Department of Agriculture. Extreme weather and heavy rain this spring has swollen the Missouri River. So far, estimates place the damage done by the flooding at around 150,000 acres of prime farmland across Iowa and Nebraska. The flooding could get worse as the upper Missouri basin braces for continued spring thaw.
At his meeting, Vilsack warned farmers that continued disaster funding from the federal government was not likely. Vilsack told farmers that his department’s budget has been cut by 13 percent. In addition, given the extent of the disasters this spring, USDA disaster funding is very nearly tapped out. Given Congress’ recent rash of budget trimming, Vilsack said that it was unlikely that they would appropriate further disaster relief funding.
This announcement did not go over well with Iowa farmers. Bryan Johnson of Percival, Iowa claimed that he’s currently facing over $500,000 of loss on his corn crop, largely due to underground seepage. In addition to discussing their financial loss, farmers debated the exact cause of the flooding. Many Iowa farmers claimed that the floods were caused by the Army Corps of Engineers, which vented Missouri River dams to prepare for spring thaws. Vilsack warned them that the USDA would treat the floods as natural, but if other insurance companies classified them as man-made, farmers could lose out on needed insurance payments.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer