Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack toured flooded farmland along the Missouri River and met with farmers in South Sioux City, Nebraska Friday. The Secretary says thousands of acres of cropland will be impacted by the flood, but most of the losses should be covered for those that bought crop insurance.
"Our best estimate now in the two-state area is somewhere between 400,000 to 500,000 acres of farmland and other agricultural land," Vilsack said. "So that's obviously a fairly significant loss those landowners will incur, that's why we have crop insurance, it's why we have the disaster programs in the 2008 Farm Bill and hopefully that provides some measure of assistance and help."
Vilsack says Farm Service Agency offices are also working to collect loss information to trigger other assistance, such as the SURE program.
"The SURE is different; it requires the governors of Nebraska and Iowa to make a request for a Secretarial designation," Vilsack said. "There is a certain threshold that has to be met. Once that designation is made by me, then there are a number of other programs in addition to crop insurance that could provide additional assistance. The SURE program is one of them for crops, there is a livestock indemnity program, there's a livestock forage program, and there's some emergency programs that involve trees and other crops."
Vilsack says he's working with the Army Corps to try to get better information for farmers and rural areas hit by the flooding because that has been a major downfall.
"It's our effort to respond but obviously there are some serious concerns and questions about the Army Corps; the decisions that have been made and the decisions yet to be made," Vilsack said. "I'll continue to communicate to the Corps their need to do a better job of communicating with folks up and down the river."
Vilsack was joined on his tour of the flooded area by Senator Ben Nelson, D-Neb.