Nebraska officials: It’s too early to determine disaster request

Two Nebraska officials told reporters today that it is still too early to determine what the state may ask for in a disaster package to address the impact of the flooding that is still devasting the state.

Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman and Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Director Jim Macy told reporters in a telephone news conference that what the state decides to request will depend on the White House reaction to the request for administratively delivered aid that Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts requested earlier this week.

“We are in a holding pattern until we get some of that finalized,” Macy said.

Wellman noted that other states including Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky and those north of Nebraska would also want to be included in any package.

Congress is expected to take up a package of aid to address the hurricanes in the South and in Puerto Rico last year. The hurricane-affected areas have been complaining that Congress has been slow to act on an aid package.

Wellman also said that his estimates of $400 million in livestock losses and $440 million in grain losses may have to be revised. He said he expects delays in spring planting and that some land will not be suitable for planting in 2019.

There has been no determination of how the problems in the Midwest will affect consumer prices for meat and other products, he said.

Wellman also said he has had conversations with Agriculture Undersecretary for Food Production and Conservation Bill Northey about farmers’ access to Agriculture Department programs for which they may qualify.

Farmers have been stockpiling soybeans due to low prices since China imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farm products in reaction to the Trump adminsitration’s tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum. The officials acknowledged today that they expect some of the stored soybeans and corn to be considered adulterated. Macy said that it will be necessary to determine whether there is any “market use” for the spoiled grain, and how to dispose of it.

–The Hagstrom Report