Flooding along the Iowa side of the Missouri River this year did at least $207 million in damages to crops and related economic activities in six western Iowa counties that border the river, according to a study commissioned by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation that was released Monday.
The estimated $207 million in lost crop sales comes as flood waters recede and farmers finally are able to assess the damage to several hundred thousand acres of corn and soybeans fields – many that had been planted before a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision in late June to increase water flows from a series of upstream dams due to heavy snow and record rainfall that swelled water levels.
The study — which focused on Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie and Woodbury counties — analyzed the direct and indirect economic impacts from crop losses due to flooded fields, as well as lost wages and other impacts that would not occur because income from lost crops would not circulate through the six-county area like they normally would, said Dave Miller, IFBF director of research and commodity services.
Fremont County suffered the highest losses, at an estimated $52.2 million; with $43.9 million in direct crop income loss and $8.3 million indirect losses from the damaged fields. Harrison County suffered $36.7 million in crop and other economic losses, and Monona County lost $32.3 million. Losses in the remaining Missouri River counties were: Pottawattamie at $31.2 million; Mills at $22.2 million and Woodbury at $14.7 million.
“This study shows the repercussions of the lost cropland and economic activity in these counties,” said Miller. “On a business level, farmers won’t be purchasing machines or inputs such as fertilizer for land. But there is also a household effect with reduced expenditures in those counties.”
For the farmers in the six-county region, the flooding cost $46.1 million in net income compared to pre-flood estimates – a total included losses on flooded acres that can’t be harvested, as well as yield losses from affected crops that were within a mile of the flooded area, Miller said. The study also factored in the cost of seed, fertilizer and other inputs that farmers had already invested in their 2011 corn and soybeans before the fields were damaged or wiped out by flooding.
The study also accounted for potential crop insurance indemnity payments that farmers will receive because their crops were destroyed, as well as payments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Revenue Assistance payments (SURE) program, which provides financial assistance for crop production and or quality losses due to a natural disaster.
Miller emphasized that the study measured losses of economic activity from lost crop sales and didn’t factor in losses to personal property, or the steep cost of rebuilding roads, levees and other infrastructure damaged or destroyed by the months of flooding.
“This is really just the tip of the iceberg on economic losses from the flooding,” Miller said. “But we hope this study will provide valuable information to help farmers, community leaders and lawmakers as they rebuild the region and push for policies to prevent or minimize flooding in the future.”