Northey after flood tour: ‘Nothing will make these farmers whole’

Source: By Tom Steever, Brownfield • Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Flooded farmers won’t know for a while whether they’ll get a crop in. Meanwhile, a top USDA official says there’s no government program to make them whole.

“We have about 1,700 acres that’s underwater,” said Andy Spiegel, as rain started falling on his farm near Watson, in far northwest Missouri. “Right now it looks like it’s going be here to stay for a while.”

After touring Spiegel’s farm, USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey said that it will take more than government programs to get farmers where they need to be.

“Nothing will make these farmers whole in this situation,” said Northey, following a ride around Spiegel’s place in an amphibious recreational vehicle.

The federal assistance program most commonly used in these circumstances, said Northey, is the Emergency Conservation Program.

“It’ll clean up debris in fields, it’ll rebuild fences,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot of sand and silt; certainly, where the levees broke we’re going to have gullies.”

About the prospects of Andy Spiegel getting a crop in this season, he tells Brownfield he’s optimistic, but “I wouldn’t bet on it.”