Spring 2019 Floods Were BAD, Midwest Farmers Brace for More in 2020

Flooded fields along the Missouri River. Image: Tyne Morgan

As you may recall, this past spring more than 1 million acres of land flooded across five states in the Midwest. The flooding affected more than 14 million people and resulted in multiple billions of dollars in lost crops and damages (in Iowa alone damages totaled $2 billion). However, now that it’s nearly winter, Midwest farmers are still very much feeling the effects of the floods and are worried about another round of flooding in 2020.

What’s Happening: Farmland that was underwater earlier this year is now full of weeds or, in many cases, still flooded. Ag Web explained that with already high river levels, excess water still sitting in reservoirs upstream and wet weather patterns shaping up this winter, things aren’t looking promising for farming in 2020. 

More Flooding in 2020?: That’s the prediction and farmers are worried. As the Weather Channel reported:

  • Concern is high for more record-breaking river flooding in the nation’s mid-section next spring.
  • Some rivers have been in flood since last spring and are at their highest levels on record for this time of year.
  • Soil moisture is among the highest on record for early November from Michigan to Montana.
  • A generally wet winter is expected by NOAA across the region.
  • This additional precipitation and snowmelt over saturated ground and into swollen rivers may lead to major spring flooding.

Why This Matters: The NY Times reported that the causes of flooding are complicated, but climate change is increasingly an exacerbating factor. We will continue to see this type of extreme weather and this underscores that we must take immediate action to curb our greenhouse gas emissions. The effects of climate change will not only cause hardship for farmers but it can spur food insecurity and spiked food prices for the rest of us. This isn’t a new normal we can afford.

Go Deeper: The 2019 floods in the Midwest were absolutely catastrophic and a “perfect storm.” We recommend reading the New York Time’s The Great Flood of 2019: A Complete Picture of a Slow-Motion Disaster to get a better idea about what this flooding meant for an entire region.

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