So when farms are hit with a natural disaster, the toll is felt by a very large group of people.
he water in Bear Creek that evenly divides this 1,000-acre section of Steele’s north Gibson County farm now trickles quietly westward, a taunting reminder of the May 1 flood that covered nearly half this part of his farm, destroyed levees, drowned crops and stole at least 20 acres of farm land through erosion. He will lose an additional 5 acres he will have to use to rebuild the levees that once protected crops from flooding.
Steele farms a total of 3,000 acres with his father, two sons and daughter. The 1,000-acre section that received the most damage runs adjacent to the Rutherford fork of the Obion River. Steele, a fourth-generation farmer, and his father could only watch as flood waters crushed crops and washed away land.
Total damages from the May 1 flood won’t be known for several months, but statewide agricultural losses could surpass $150 million or more. Farm service agents in Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Gibson, Madison and McNairy counties had made early damage estimates to land and some crops last week of a combined $2.4 million.
About 90 percent of the state’s corn crop was planted when floodwaters took over fields, Givens said. Now, farmers are struggling to replant those acres before a May 24 deadline. That is the last day farmers can qualify for full crop insurance on corn. Steele will not make that deadline on about half of his corn acreage.
Farmers who had crop insurance on cornfields will receive some claim money.
“But that is usually only around 65 percent of the total,” said Steele, who lost about 300 acres of corn and 100 acres of wheat.
Farmers may also receive some money from seed companies that provide help if seed must be replanted. That insurance varies, but is usually about 50 percent of the purchase cost, said Steele, who estimated he spent at least $200 an acre for corn seed, chemicals and fertilizers.
“And there is no insurance to replace the levees,” he said.
Nor is there insurance to repair crevasses cut into fields by flash floods.
Go read the whole thing. It’s a pretty important story for the state, and one that’s really just starting to emerge.