Floods and trade wars make for a tough harvest season for some Missouri farmers

Fields full of corn stalks and soybeans create a sea of green and yellow. Harvest season is upon the farmer. However, this isn’t the case for many farmers in Missouri.

Since March of this year, flood has been a constant in Missouri. The 2,341 miles of the Missouri River poured itself throughout Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, impacting both farmers and residents alike.  

 “I didn’t have much crop production this year,” said Stephen Young, a Missouri farmer. “I could hardly get anything planted.”

Young’s farm consists mostly of flood plains. With over 60 levee breaches throughout the state, flood plains never stood a chance. Young believes that 60,000 – 70,000 acres in his region of the state flooded this year. He also raises cattle, which have not been affected by the flooding.

According to the Kansas City Star article, “Flooding forces evacuation in northwest Missouri towns; rivers haven’t crested yet,” since March 14, flood warnings along the Missouri River have covered 35,738 square miles and impacted more than 5.275 million people. Throughout the following months, even more were affected by the flooding. In Brunswick, Missouri, over 50 people were displaced from their homes and weren’t able to return until June.

Missouri towns are still cleaning up from the floods. Many have paid for sand, equipment rental, overtime pay of city employees, wastewater and chemical removal and increased utility bills. Many homes are also in need of repair now that the flood waters have receded.  Fortunately, FEMA offers financial assistance to those affected by the flooding. The Small Business Administration grants loans to the businesses damaged as well.

On Thursday, March 21, Governor Parson declared a state of emergency for Missouri due to the flooding. The Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency, oversees the levees in Missouri. When the state of emergency was issued, the Army Corps came to flooded towns to assist with keeping levees secure and with rebuilding them after the flood waters receded.

Many farmers were not able to plant due to the floods occurring in planting season. According to the USDA, both corn and soybean planted areas have decreased from the 2019 season. The amount of corn acres planted have decreased by 7% and soybean acres are down 13% when compared to the 2018 planting season.

Crop insurance and prevented planting help lighten the burden of flood damage on farmers. Crop insurance helps cover any planted crops that have been lost during the season. Prevented planting helps those who were not able to get anything into the field.

Like other farmers, Young is not convinced next year will be a better year for his row crop operation.

“Next year doesn’t look promising,” Young said. “If the forecast is right and the levee still hasn’t been fixed yet, nothing will get planted.”

To learn more about how you can help with the Missouri 2019 flood cleanup please visit Missouri Disaster Relief.