“We’re staring at massive losses.”
This was the message Arkansas farmers shared with U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) at a July 6th agricultural roundtable in Pickens, Ark. Sen. Cotton hosted the assembly to listen to from farmers affected by current flooding.
One of many farmers in attendance was Andrew Ross from Desha County. Ross is farming his sixth crop. He instructed Cotton he misplaced 1,600 acres of soybeans when June rains dropped practically 20 inches of water on his fields in a 48-hour span.
“The timing couldn’t have been worse,” Ross mentioned. “I had already spent almost all of my crop input budget on the soybeans that were lost. That money is gone, and we can’t get that back.”
“Everyone I know has been affected,” he added. “This will have a ripple effect on the entire community.”
Different farmers in attendance shared related experiences and expressed a want for swift federal support to assist mitigate huge crop losses. The College of Arkansas Division of Agriculture estimates the flooding precipitated greater than $205 million in damages to farms within the area.
“This is an urgent situation, and time is of the essence,” mentioned Jay Coker of Stuttgart, Ark. “Some farmers will have a hard time recovering from this.”
Cotton admitted it would take extra time than most farmers should push a federal aid package deal via Congress. Although he was cautiously optimistic that there could possibly be different avenues to supply support to these affected by the unprecedented rainfall.
“You can see the stress and the strain this situation has caused,” Cotton mentioned. “The clock is ticking when you have crops in the ground, and bureaucratic promises of financial relief in six to 18 months don’t pay the bills now.”
“We have granted a lot of discretionary authority to the Department of Agriculture to handle unique situations like this,” he added. “We’re going to work with them to see if we can find tools to help get the kind of urgent relief that folks here in farm country need.”
Through the roundtable, farmers steadily introduced up the inadequacy of drainage infrastructure in southeastern Arkansas. The breach of an irrigation canal simply east of Dumas, Ark. on June 10 added to flooding issues.
Native farmer Danny Day mentioned at one level all of his crops have been underneath water. In fields the place it receded shortly, crops survived. However in different fields, water was standing for every week or extra. He ended up dropping 2,800 acres of cotton, soybeans and corn.
“We could use some investment in our drainage system,” Day mentioned. “It’s hard to prepare for 20 inches of rain in such a short time, but improvements to our canals could reduce damages in the future.”
“Some of these ditches were designed in the 1940s and were not built to handle the significant weather events that have occurred in recent years,” Coker mentioned.
Cotton mentioned water tasks for agriculture can be a precedence in President Biden’s infrastructure proposal. Within the brief time period, he was hopeful the federal authorities would enable state and native governments to spend surplus Covid-19 funds to deal with wanted infrastructure enhancements.
“We spent a lot of money during the pandemic to help state and local governments. They should be able to spend it on things they need,” Cotton mentioned. “From what I heard at present, simpler drainage construction will be the single largest want for farmers in southeastern Arkansas.