Tag Archives: Flooding

The Nebraska Farmers Union Foundation wants rural Nebraskans impacted by floods and blizzards to know that $500 grants are still available from the Nebraska Rural Response Hotline.  The grants are funded by Farm Aid, NeFU Foundation, and other donors.  For grant applications, call the Hotline at: (800) 464-0258.

If you or someone you know got hurt by the flood or blizzard and could use a little help, call the

Nebraska Rural Response Hotline. Their experienced and professional staff will help callers find the kind of assistance they need. The $500 grants are simple to apply for.  The application can be filled out over the phone, and the assistance is provided in confidence.

“First established in 1984, the Hotline is the longest continuously operating farm crisis hotline in the nation.  It is staffed by Legal Aid of Nebraska, administered by Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska, and partners with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to provide a wide range of services from mental health counseling, bookkeeping, financial counseling, legal services, and food assistance. The Council that oversees the Hotline is made up of members of the farm and faith community,” said John Hansen, who serves as NeFU Foundation Secretary and also secretary for the Rural Response Council.

“Our NeFU Foundation continues to receive donations from around the nation intended to help Nebraska farm and ranch families hurt by the late blizzard and unprecedented spring flooding. For example, the Midwest Insurance Agency agents stepped up and donated $10,000 in supplies and cash. The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska donated $2,500 to help families in their time of need. We received over $2,000 from a church in Alabama, and $900 from a tattoo parlor in Omaha. The diversity of the response is truly amazing. We absorb the administrative costs so that every dollar received is used to support flood and blizzard relief efforts.  For folks wanting to support our relief efforts, they can visit our website at www.nebraskafarmersunion.org or send checks to NeFU Foundation at 1305 Plum Street, Lincoln, NE 68502. We are asking folks to help spread the word about this program for farmers and ranchers who got clobbered by either the late blizzard or the floods,” Hansen said.

Hansen noted that in addition to the assistance available at the Hotline, the Nebraska Farm Bureau has established a Disaster Relief Fund to help support cleanup and rebuilding efforts and is available at:  www.nefb.org/disaster .  The Nebraska Cattlemen assistance program just closed applications.  All three programs do not require memberships in their organization to receive assistance. “Everyone is pitching in and helping everyone, which is the way it should be in a time of natural disaster.  For people wanting the most recent updates on rural flood relief services, programs, and activities call the Nebraska Department of Agriculture Hotline at 800-831-0550 or go to their website at:  http://www.nda.nebraska.gov/ ” Hansen concluded.

A Senate-passed disaster aid bill, covering this year’s historic Midwest floods, finally cleared the U.S. House Monday, after enough Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the bill.

A majority of House Republicans broke ranks with conservatives, giving Democrats the two-thirds majority needed to pass the $19-billion disaster aid bill under rules for expedited action.

Conservatives, three-times during the Memorial Day recess, blocked the unanimous-consent needed to approve the Senate-passed measure that President Trump says he will sign.

They objected to voting on the unpaid-for bill with most members gone during the recess, and Democrats’ refusal to provide administration-requested humanitarian border aid.

Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer pushed back…

The measure includes $3-billion for farm related losses of crops, dairy, on-farm stored crops, prevented planting and more, covering the historic Midwest floods and earlier storms in the Southeast and Puerto Rico, and wildfires in the West.

The legislation was earlier delayed in the Senate over new Puerto Rico hurricane aid, including food stamps.

President Trump argued existing aid was mismanaged, but agreed to the food stamp money, and Republicans added new redevelopment aid, winning enough support from Democrats to pass the bill by a wide margin in the Senate.

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed legislation to provide assistance for presidentially declared disasters, including the March 2019 “bomb cyclone” which struck Nebraska. This vote came after the Senate recently voted in favor of this bill, and will now be sent to the President’s desk.

“I am glad we were able to come together and provide much needed relief to areas of our country, including Nebraska, which have been so devastated by natural disasters. We can now push further ahead with recovery efforts. Thousands of Nebraskans were affected by blizzards, rain, wind, and flooding, and this is another step as we rebuild.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) made the following statement today on the House passage of the disaster assistance package.

“I am pleased that the House has passed this funding bill so that assistance can soon reach the individuals, communities, and military installations, such as Offutt, in need of this relief.  This is great news for Nebraskans and others who have been affected by natural disasters in recent months.  Clearly, much more work and funding is necessary, but this legislation is a meaningful step forward as we continue the flood recovery efforts.”

The final version of the disaster relief bill includes a number of provisions that are of particular importance to Nebraska.  “I worked with my colleagues to add funds to the military operations and maintenance account with the intentionality that as much as $120 million will go to the immediate cleanup and operational needs of Offutt Air Force Base,” Fortenberry said.  “I also helped to provide additional funds for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program to restore scarred lands and infrastructure.  This important relief for our nation’s environmental security will reshape eroded stream banks, repair water control structures, fix levees, and restore conservation priorities,” Fortenberry added.  Among other items, the legislation also provides funds for emergency conservation projects on farms, levee repairs, and highway reconstruction.

Fortenberry said, “Nebraskans are resilient, determined, and generous.  This federal assistance will help accelerate the recovery work of communities and individuals and allow Nebraska to remain strong.”

Grain sorghum is one crop option that can provide opportunity to growers in regions impacted by historically adverse weather during the 2019 planting season. As wet conditions persist for farmers across the U.S., producers calculating options as major crop plant deadlines loom need to keep the following considerations in mind when planting grain sorghum.

Grain sorghum can typically be planted later than other crops, and sorghum is a lower risk option, specifically as it relates to seed costs. For example, sorghum seed typically costs $9-$18 per acre depending on seeding rate, while corn seed typically costs $55-$110 an acre depending on seeding rate and traits. Harvest costs are often lower, as well.

“Grain sorghum provides a number of benefits to growers as we enter a replant and late/prevent plant time period for the 2019 growing season,” said Brent Bean, Sorghum Checkoff agronomist, Ph.D. “There is typically a yield benefit for soybeans, cotton and corn when planted after sorghum. In addition, its root system is often able to penetrate compacted soils and can reduce diseases and nematodes that plague other crops.”

From a demand standpoint, despite ongoing negotiations and tariff restrictions with China, the U.S. has sold multiple vessels to China in the last month. NSP CEO Tim Lust said this demand and market signals offer optimism for global feed grain needs like sorghum.

“Despite trade uncertainty, demand for feed grain remains strong across the globe,” Lust said. “Furthermore, anticipated feed grain shortages from areas impacted by adverse planting weather will create significant localized demand for additional starch sources like sorghum. We continue to receive feedback from ethanol plants and other end-users about the need to fill gaps in supply this winter. Some have already posted sorghum bids, and others are strongly considering doing so.”

Growers should also consider that current guidance from USDA shows in order to collect a Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payment, farmers must plant a program crop or alfalfa. Final plant dates for crop insurance vary by region, but growers can contact their local insurance agent for insurance coverage and options. Sorghum also works well as a cover behind prevented planting, and resources on this provision are available from the USDA Risk Management Agency.

Additional agronomic and marketing resources, including information on Sorghum Management Following a Wet Winter and SpringPre-emergence Weed ControlFertilizing Grain SorghumSeeding Rate, sorghum marketing connections, Sorghum Checkoff marketing staff, are available at SorghumCheckoff.com.

For information on local bids or additional information, producers can contact National Sorghum producers at 800-658-9808.

Larry Walls should have been out working in his fields last week. Instead, his John Deere tractor is parked on high ground, just beyond the reach of the ever-encroaching floodwaters in the southern Mississippi Delta.

Four months into what seems like a never-ending flood, he’s trying to stay busy. He pressure-washed his church, and he’s been shooting the snakes that slither out of a swollen creek submerging his backyard.

“The corn would have been at least waist-high right now,” Walls said.

Floodwater has swamped 860 square miles (2,200 sq. kilometers) north of the Mississippi River city of Vicksburg, an area larger than the cities of New York and Los Angeles combined. Residents say it’s the worst flood since 1973. Gov. Phil Bryant last week went further, likening it to the 1927 flood that lives on in books, songs, movies and the folk memory of the Magnolia State.

“1927 was a line of demarcation for most of us who lived in the Delta,” Bryant, a Republican, said. “This may replace that.”

Levees and floodgates near Vicksburg were built to prevent water from overflowing into the Delta when the river rises. This year, it has been above flood stage at Vicksburg for 102 consecutive days , with the floodgate closed much of that time.

The problem comes when gates are closed and it rains in parts of northern Mississippi. That water flows into the south end of the Delta region and can’t drain into the river. Trapped inside levees with nowhere to go, the water has been rising inch by inch since February in what’s called the Yazoo backwater area.

The Steele Bayou gate was opened Thursday, and water has gone down about 2 inches (5 centimeters). But the gate’s likely to close again as the Mississippi River rises with runoff from heavy rains in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. Current forecasts suggest the water won’t drain significantly from the backwater area until July at the earliest.

And when will all the water be gone?

“Nobody knows,” said Holly Bluff Fire Chief Glen Reams. With fields and some homes under what seems like an inland sea and people boating around between the sandbags, he’s trying to raise morale in his community, but even he’s been having trouble sleeping.

“I see people breaking down and crying,” Reams said. “It’s the stress.”

More than 500 homes have been damaged in flooding across a region where cotton, corn and soybeans are the main crops. Farmers are resigning themselves to missing the growing season entirely. Corn and cotton should already be in the ground, and farmers say there’s no way fields will be dry enough to plant soybeans by the end of June. Even then, removing debris from the fields will be a major job.

A giant pumping station had been proposed to pump water from the backwater, over the levees and into the Mississippi River when the floodgates are closed, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency vetoed it in 2008, finding it would drain wetlands and harm wildlife. Bryant and other Mississippi leaders are lobbying to reverse that decision, pointing to damaged homes, roads washed out, and millions of dollars lost by farmers.

Environmental advocates call the vetoed Yazoo Pumps project a $300 million boondoggle that would damage the natural ecosystem, largely to benefit industrial agriculture.

Clay Adcock, who farms 3,800 acres (1,540 hectares), is helping circulate a pro-pumps petition with more than 11,000 signatures. He’s also scrambling to shore up the ring levee around his house. Last week, the earthen barrier sprang a leak, with water burbling out like a spring. Adcock’s trackhoe and bulldozer, normally used to clean ditches in fields, were traversing the muddy mess of his once-treasured backyard, piling truckloads of dirt to keep out the green-scummed water of the Sunflower River, which normally drains into the Mississippi.

“I’ve farmed for 33 years, and I’ve never not made a crop,” Adcock said. “I’m not going to plant an acre this year.”

Adcock constantly patrols his levee, sending countless tiny frogs scattering with each footstep. He’s making backup plans, thinking about building a second, inner ring closer to the house, and considering living upstairs if the ground floor floods.

“I had a dream that I stepped out of bed and stepped in the water,” he said.

Adcock’s son, married in February, is in the same boat, moving back home with his new family after his own house flooded in March.

Walls, meanwhile, is a small farmer by Delta standards, renting 560 acres (225 hectares) near Louise. The 63-year-old worked for larger farmers for decades but struck out on his own in 2012. He has crop insurance, which will help pay the rent and debt on his two John Deere tractors and three 18-wheel grain-hauling trucks. Walls said he’ll survive financially, but he and his wife “won’t be able to do things we usually do.”

“As long as that tractor is sitting still, I’m not making any money, and I’ve got to pay notes on it,” he said.

But people are still fighting. Adcock’s brother-in-law, Jimmy Hudson, showed Reams a video he made, set to “Five Feet High and Rising,” a Johnny Cash song inspired by a 1937 flood in Arkansas. Then he went back to work, loading sandbags to shore up the levee surrounding his home.

“My kids’ handprints are out in the concrete by the basketball goal,” Hudson said. “This is home. We’re going to go down swinging.”

Governor Laura Kelly has sent a request to President Donald Trump asking for emergency federal assistance to help address the widespread severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that have plagued Kansas in recent days.

The letter details the events leading up to the request and asks for Direct Federal Assistance for:

(1)  Swift water rescue support;

(2)  Shelter management support including short-term housing assistance;

(3)  Mass care and human services support through commodities;

(4)  Technical support and possible staffing for state logistics staging areas;

(5)  Possible technical support regarding hazardous materials spills and orphan containers.

The request also anticipates the need for debris removal, which poses an immediate threat to lives, public health, and safety.

“Kansas is experiencing damage from severe weather and historic flooding due to extended heavy rain,” Kelly said. “Today I sent a request to President Donald Trump for emergency federal assistance for response and recovery. We are working with our local, state, and federal partners to ensure Kansans have the resources they need at this challenging time.”

Named in the request are the 46 Kansas counties listed in the state declaration originally signed by Kelly May 9 and later amended. These counties include Allen, Anderson, Barber, Barton, Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clark, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Comanche, Cowley, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Elk, Franklin, Geary, Greenwood, Harvey, Jefferson, Kingman, Lincoln, Lyon, Marion, McPherson, Meade, Montgomery, Morris, Neosho, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Pottawatomie, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Riley, Rush, Saline, Sumner, Wabaunsee, Wilson, and Woodson.

The request was made under the provisions of Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5208 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.35. Also today, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management sent out a request through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact for an advanced team to assist with coordinating interstate resource requests, and geospatial information system specialists to assist with development of mapping products.

“In order to proactively expand our resources and ensure the Kansas Division of Emergency Management has everything it needs to assist local partners and keep people safe, we have requested through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact an advanced team to assist our personnel. As we work with impacted communities, I want to ensure that every resource is being brought to bear to assist local emergency personnel so we can keep people safe and limit damage to property.”

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.