After the flood, the recoup
June 30, 2008
ATALISSA, IA (DTN) – Mud and standing water still cover some planted acres and cattle would need a lifejacket to graze in the pasture at the century-old farm of Wayne and Pat Corriell in Muscatine County, IA.
The farm has lost 40 acres of corn and 15 acres of soybeans that had been progressing well to the flood. Last week Wayne had to replant another 26 acres of soybeans that had been hit by a hail storm.
He’s definitely looking forward to the couple’s upcoming Alaskan cruise.
“I wish I could take everybody with me to forget this for a little while,” he said.
Corriell still has about 54 acres of corn in good shape and another 40 acres that he called “moderate.” The “moderate” field also suffered hail damage and because of crop-insurance rules, Corriell did not want to till up the hail-damaged corn to replant. Replanting beans would affect his crop-insurance coverage and he thought it was too late to replant corn.
“A lot of guys are thinking 90-day corn, but I think it’s too risky,” Corriell said. “I think a lot of us will be interested to see how that ends up.”
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There are no official estimates on the crop damage in Iowa or across the Midwest, but USDA is conducting a new survey this week before releasing its actual planted acreage report June 30. The Iowa Farm Bureau projects 1.3 million acres of corn and 2 million acres of soybeans were flooded.
Making the case Monday that USDA should open up Conservation Reserve Program acres for haying and grazing now, Iowa Farm Bureau officials estimated there could be as much as a $3 billion in crop loss and $500 million in increased feeding costs for livestock.
The Corriells’ feedlot area looks like a wetland and the 350-acre pasture that held the couple’s cows still looks like a lake cove. He estimates the water is at least 12 feet deep in spots. At its peak, the water was overrunning a small levee on the farm and destroyed a paved driveway that led to the pasture.
“We had water running over here,” Corriell said. “It was worse than any rapids in Colorado. It took out two of the feed bunks. I don’t know where they ended up.”
Flooding at the farm began early this spring. One small creek bridge has been underwater since the start of the season. But the water earlier this month jeopardized the cattle, which had to be moved twice with the cows swimming over a fence at least once in the process. Calves as young as two days old were swimming. The Corriells got the 50-cow herd out and sent them to the sale barn in Kalona, IA, where they were sold last week.
“I don’t know what direction I’m going to go, but I’m not going to have cows for awhile,” Corriell said. He lamented he had just gotten one of his three dogs trained for herding as well.
Throughout much of eastern Iowa Monday there were planters and sprayers in the fields. Just north of the Corriell farm, another group of farmers was tearing up a damaged corn field. Several towns such as Columbus Junction, IA, were getting back to normal even as thousands of sandbags lined the streets.
Farmers, including the Corriells, who travel east to Muscatine to buy machinery and fertilizer or sell their grain have to reconfigure their travel routes. The Corriell farm is about 10 miles from the outskirts of Muscatine, but going there is now a 40-mile trip. Bridges in the area along with three roads have been significantly damaged. The road closest to the Corriell farm has about 100 yards of demolished asphalt.
“It really disrupts everything,” Corriell said. “There are a lot of people on this side of the river who work there and a lot of people near Muscatine who work in Iowa City.”
At least 23 state and U.S. highways in Iowa still have portions closed (as of June 24), many due to road or bridge damage. That figure does not include a list of county roads that are closed, such as the one near the Corriell farm.
At a meeting with farmers on Saturday in Pella, IA, Sen. Tom Harkin told farmers federal disaster money approved last week in Congress did not include any transportation funds. Harkin said there likely will have to be transportation funding attached to a separate appropriations bill later this year.
“We just don’t have the data on what we need for roads and rails,” Harkin said.
With Iowa officials estimating that as much as 1,500 miles of roads are affected, the Iowa Farm Bureau on Monday asked state officials to suspend weight limits on highways so farmers could move more grain, feed or flood debris.