Flooded States Account for a Quarter of US Ag Production
20 March 2019

Flooding has deluged parts of the US Midwest, where rising river water levels have inundated many communities. The governments of Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Mississippi have all declared states of emergency due to record flooding, and, with additional rains forecast for later this week, the water does not look likely to subside anytime soon. These four states are extremely important to the overall agricultural economy in the United States, accounting for 25 percent of the national production value of major crops, and 23 percent of the production value of livestock products in 2017.

The flooding was caused by a confluence of factors. A wet, cold winter season led to frozen soil that could not accept much more moisture. Last week’s heavy snow followed by torrential rains forced the runoff into rivers, which have overflowed from heavy volume. Tragically, losses have included human life, as well as livestock that many depend upon for their livelihood. Vital infrastructure, which has been the fabric of breadbasket economies for decades, was destroyed. Buildings, bridges, roads, and railways, among many other economic components, will need to be rebuilt. Potable water shortages have occurred in flooded areas with power outages. For farmers, planting of the upcoming crop is at risk. Polluted water and uncertainty around when the floods will recede may impact soil quality and planting decisions. With the economy already under pressure from price weakness stemming from the China/US trade battle, this additional damage imposed by Mother Nature is especially painful for the US agriculture industry.

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