Economy
5:00 pm
Wed June 8, 2011

Missouri River flooding compounding misery for Mo. farmers

Rising water levels on the Missouri River are expected to swamp hundreds of thousands of acres of crops and halt barge traffic. 

The threat of decreased crop acreage in the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri is driving prices for corn and soybeans on Wednesday.

Ron Plain is a Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri.  He says flooding along the Missouri River could be devastating for bottomland farmers. 

“The water level is going to be up for over a month, some talk of maybe two months,”  Plain said. “Which means there won’t be any crops harvested off the land this year, because by the time water level goes down it looks like it will be too late to get a crop grown before frost shows up.”

Missouri is a major producer of soybeans, planting some 5.3 million acres this year.  In total, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says as many as 500,000 acres could be lost to floodwater in multiple states.

Still, Plain says the impact of the flood(s) on the total U.S. grain market should be negligible.

 “A half a million acres flooded would be well below one percent,” Plain noted.  “So, yes for those farmers it’s devastating, but in the total scheme of things just flooding those acres won’t have a huge impact on the total U.S. market.”

Flooding on the Mississippi River already swamped some 130,000 acres of crops in May in Southeast Missouri.

In addition to losing acreage the flood is also expected to disrupt barge and rail traffic along the river.