Damage Assessment

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Crop Losses Expected To Be Substantial

By Joe Foreman, Editor

MALVERN – It may be weeks or months before Mills County officials have a precise reading on the percentage of crops destroyed or damaged this year by flooding along the Missouri River and devastating hail and high winds that accompanied a pair of August thunderstorms, but there’s no doubt that production losses in the county will be substantial.

    Mills County has already received a Secretarial Designation because crop production losses (as a result of the flooding, hail and wind)  is projected to exceed 30 percent – the federal government’s minimum requirement for a Secretarial Designation. Local officials expect the losses to be much greater than 30 percent when the final county-wide numbers are determined.
     Cindy Bebout, Farm Service Agency Executive Director for both Mills and Fremont Counties, said the Secretarial Designation will allow qualified Mills County farmers who suffered a 10-percent production loss to at least one crop of economic significance to be eligible for financial benefits through the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE).
    SURE provides benefits for farm revenue losses caused by natural disasters, such as flooding, hail and high winds. SURE guidelines require a producer to obtain crop insurance on all crops of economic significance. Hail insurance alone does not meet the requirement.
     Consideration is given to “whole-farm revenue,” including crop insurance indemnities and commodity program payments, when determining production losses.
    “Once they’ve met the 10 percent (requirement), it’s based on revenue,” Bebout said. “We have to look at what level of crop insurance they have and go through the market year.”
    The market year for crops planted last spring began Sept. 1, 2011 and ends Aug. 31, 2012, therefore sign-up for the SURE program (for 2011 crops) won’t begin until September 2012. SURE sign-up for 2010 crops is expected to begin later this year.
    Bebout said the Missouri River flooding’s long-term impact on agriculture in western Iowa is unknown.
    “Some of the guys flooded now don’t know if they’ll be able to plant  next year,” she said.
    Producers with questions about the SURE program are encouraged to contact the Mills County Farm Service Agency office in Malvern at 712-624-8668 or go online to visit the FSA website.