With news of the Army Corps of Engineers' decision to open the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway in southern Missouri to ease some of the swell in the Mississippi River, farmers affected by the floods began to grow concerned about crop insurance coverage. In past man-made disasters, crop insurance coverage has been denied, and the National Corn Growers Association wants to ensure our farmers are compensated for their loss.
NCGA is currently working through questions with the Risk Management Agency and discussing options for the farmers of the 130,000 flooded acres, reports Sam Willett, NCGA's Washington-based public policy senior director. The RMA has confirmed producers' claims for their 2011 losses will be processed and that prevented planting claims for 2012 will also be accepted, since most of the flooded farms will still not be able to plant a crop at this time next year.
"We are sure that the decision to flood the farmland was made only after a very careful review of all options, but it is important to point out that this land is not just empty space," Willett said. "These farms represent family investments going back decades. They are a vital part of Missouri's rural economy and we want to do everything we can to ensure this land is around for the next generation of farmers.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has made it clear the decision to breach the levee was not easily made and that his department, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency is standing ready to assist our farmers, Willett said.
"USDA and FEMA will continue to coordinate with our federal partners to evaluate how we can provide relief to farmers and others impacted by these recent events," the two agencies said in a joint statement. "Although the farming families who live within the floodway have known that this day was a possibility and have remained resilient throughout, our hearts go out to them. Working together, in support of our state partners, we will do everything we can to help mitigate this damage and protect the families, farmland and communities we serve."
The USDA is scheduling meetings in Missouri to meet with growers who have been impacted by the floods. RMA is also reviewing current crop insurance participation and levels of coverage carried by farmers in the flooded areas. This will provide USDA a clearer idea of the extent of the financial impact resulting from crop losses.
NCGA will continue to work with the agencies involved and monitor the situation.