Photo by USDA
Nebraska is estimated to have $400 million in cattle deaths due to the recent blizzard and flooding. That number could move higher as recovery efforts continue.
Photo by USDA Nebraska is estimated to have $400 million in cattle deaths due to the recent blizzard and flooding. That number could move higher as recovery efforts continue.

From CBW News Desk

Federal disaster assistance has been approved by President Trump for the states of Iowa and Nebraska. Flooding in Nebraska has caused an estimated $1.4 billion in damage – and climbing – while Iowa is estimating $1.6 billion in flooding damages.

Flood losses along the Missouri River and smaller tributaries include farm ground and farm facilities, along with stored grains and livestock. The flooding came quick for many, leaving little time to evacuate farm products, animals and equipment. Those damages, topping into the billions of dollars from flooding in a four-state area, includes rural roads, bridges and public infrastructure such as schools. 

It wasn’t just flooding occurring in Nebraska though. Storm Ulmer, referred to as a bomb cyclone dropped rain, snow and blasted 50 plus mph winds. Some ranchers didn’t see flooding but they did have to deal with a blizzard. Because of the weather event, the cow-calf sector in Nebraska is estimated at losing over $400 million in cattle deaths between flooding and blizzards conditions.

Former state ag director Greg Ibach who is now USDA Under Secretary was in Lincoln, Neb. on Monday for a roundtable meeting with Gov. Pete Ricketts and ag leaders on the flooding which has devastated ag producers across Nebraska. The roundtable was broadcast live on Facebook.

“We’ve never seen a natural disaster of this scope,” Governor Ricketts said regarding the widespread impact the flooding has had on the state. “This will test our Nebraska grit. We will be working on this for a while. The road to recovery is going to seem like it will take a long time. But I know we will get through this together as Nebraskans and we will rebuild this state bigger, better, stronger than ever before.”

Nebraska Department of Agriculture, USDA and the State Veterinarian office is working together to provide the resources producers need in the coming weeks for assistance in funding, herd health, and carcass disposal. 

“For producers, they should reach out to their Farm Service Agency and Natural Resource Conservation Service county offices first and explain their problems and then determine what they need to do to sign up for the programs they make qualify for,” Ibach said.

Because of the Balanced Budget Act that past last February the payment limit in the livestock indemnity program has been removed. This is good news for Nebraska cattle producers that may have large death tolls. 

Producers need to be diligent about documenting everything officials said during the roundtable. This ranges from recording livestock death loss numbers to feedlot facilities taking photos of waste management holding ponds that may have been compromised due to the water and ice. 

Cattle producers that had animals swept away in the flooding waters and can’t document them, Ibach said sales recipients or preg check records may be used. “It needs to be something that shows you had ownership of the animals,” Ibach said. Cattlemen and women have a 30-day notification period from the time of loss to their filing with a local FSA office to qualify for the livestock indemnity program. 

The Nebraska Department of Ag’s hotline number has taken numerous phone calls with one quarter of them being people asking for assistance while the other three-quarters are from people wanting to help and donate hay, calving season supplies, and fencing materials. For those wishing to still donate, please contact NDA at Nebraska Department of Agriculture at 1-800-831-0550. Likewise, if you are a producer needing assistance also call the number listed.