Ag Policy Blog

Missouri Farm Bureau Calls for Better Levee Protection

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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An aerial shot of Highway 136 near Phelps City, Mo. (Photo courtesy of Richard Oswald)

As flooding was hitting Missouri River towns, the president of the Missouri Farm Bureau on Wednesday said flooding is becoming more common and more work is needed to deal with levee protection on the river.

“The all-time record flooding along the Missouri River is devastating to Missouri farmers. Levees continue to break or be breached, and thousands of acres of extremely productive crop land are once again under water," said Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau. "Many farmers lost crops stored in bins as the Missouri River rose so rapidly there was no time for movement to higher ground.

“This unprecedented early-season flood will prevent many farmers from planting a crop this year, and the damaged levees eliminate flood protection for any crops that do get planted. It is too soon to estimate the extent of the damage, but it is a tremendous blow to farmers who are already dealing with weak markets and low commodity prices.

“Highways, bridges and railroads have been destroyed, meaning the damage caused by this flood will reach far past the areas under water. This damage to infrastructure will take months and years to repair.

“Unfortunately, flooding events like this are becoming too common. We must address weaknesses in flood control structures and strengthen our ability to prevent flooding. The time has come to have a serious discussion about protecting our farms, rural communities and critical infrastructure.”

Gavins Point Dam releases in South Dakota were reduced to 24,000 cubic feet per second on Wednesday. Releases a week ago were briefly topping 100,000 cfs. Current plans call for releases to decline to 20,000 cfs and stay there for as long as system conditions allow.

Several communities in Northwest Missouri are now flooding, including Craig, Mo., The National Weather Service out of Kansas City, Mo., noted on Twitter on Wednesday, "The Missouri River is currently discharging at a rate of 315 thousand cubic feet per second in Rulo, NE (near Craig, MO). If those numbers don't mean much to you... that's enough water to fill Arrowhead Stadium in under 9 minutes."

The USACE anticipates the crest at St. Joseph, Mo., and hit 29.2 feet on Friday morning. The crest is forecast at Atchison, Kan., on Thursday, and Parkville, Mo., and Kansas City, Mo., on Friday. These areas should remain alert and stay tuned to changing river conditions. Several smaller tributaries are also flooding as backwater from the Missouri River pushes tributary levels higher.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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