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Disaster bill brings relief to MO farmers after flooding, tariffs

MO farmland
Flooded farmland
Posted at 6:50 PM, Jun 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 12:13:24-04

RUSHVILLE, Mo. — A day after Congress passed a $19.1 billion federal disaster assistance bill, farmers in Kansas and Missouri said the funding would bring relief following weeks of heavy rain and flooding in the region.

The disaster bill will provide relief funds for areas hit by natural disasters like flooding, possibly including Jeffrey Gaskill’s flooded farm in Buchanan County, Missouri.

“Once I heard that it passed, that was huge,” he said. “I’ve planted about a third of the crops compared to last year and I’ve already lost 10 percent to drown-outs.”

On Tuesday, around 400 acres of Gaskill’s corn and soybean farmland was covered by feet of flood water.

With the conditions wiping out some of his crop planting, the farmer said the current situation brought a much lower return than previous years.

“I have crop insurance, which is going to help,” he said. “Thank God we had such a good year financially last year. I’m going to ride through this year.”

As a corn and soybean farmer for the last 40 years, he said this year’s conditions were some of the toughest he has ever experienced.

“These typically are rare events, but it just seems like they’re becoming less rare,” he said. “I understand it’s going to flood. You have to learn to expect this occasionally. I would have liked to have not seen it in 2011 and 2019 because before that was 1993.”

Rising water levels and flood conditions have hit farmers in the region as they also continue to navigate through a trade war and tariffs with other countries.

As a result of the situation, Gaskill said the expenses of farming were increasing.

With relief coming from the disaster bill, the farmer hoped he could possibly put money toward paying off the costs for pumping out rain and saturation from the farmlands.

“The pump has to pump 35,000 gallons a minute. That’s a lot of water,” Gaskill said. He has run the pumps non-stop on diesel fuel since early April. “Hopefully, now that they’ve signed the disaster bill, we’ll eventually get that money back.”

Gaskill told 41 Action News that the challenges facing agriculture eventually trickle down to people at home and increased costs at the grocery store.

“In general, this is going to bring food prices up,” he said. “It’s making everything more expensive. The general populace is going to be paying taxes which all go into the disaster bill. That's just the way it is.”

Following the passage of the disaster bill, the Missouri Farm Bureau released a statement applauding the decision but also said that farmers would be on alert for possibly more bad conditions this year.

“We are grateful for the leadership and support exhibited by the entire Missouri Congressional delegation throughout the process of flood fighting and recovery,” the statement read. “The waters continue to rise, and we expect that more damage is to come. This crucial funding will help farmers, ranchers, and rural communities recover from events that are truly out of their control.”

After experiencing the highs and lows this year, Gaskill hoped the weeks and months ahead would provide better fortune.

“It looks like the wave of the future is a higher river,” he said. “It’s just one of those deals where you hope for better weather and you just have to roll with the punches.”