Thursday, June 12, 2008

Harkin: Special Federal Appropriation May Be Needed For Weather Aftermath

Saying "the worst may not be behind us" with severe weather, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, today said an emergency federal appropriation may be in order to assist the state with the effects of devastating storms and flooding.

"This is a disaster and our federal government should respond," Harkin said.

Gov. Chet Culver already has declared 55 counties disaster areas.

Culver just added Muscatine County to the list of counties now under the Governor's emergency proclamation.

The counties proclaimed disaster areas are: Adams, Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Boone, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Carroll, Cedar, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Clarke, Clayton, Crawford, Dallas, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Fremont, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Harrison, Howard, Humboldt, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Kossuth, Linn, Marion, Marshall, Mitchell, Monona, Montgomery, Muscatine, Page, Polk, Ringgold, Scott, Story, Tama, Taylor, Union, Van Buren, Wapello, Warren, Webster, Winneshiek, Worth, Wright.

Harkin said he planned to join U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Friday for a tour of some of the more heavily impacted areas. The itinerary is evolving but Harkin said the likely agenda involves Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Charles City and the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in Monona County where four Boy Scouts were killed.

"I think it is important to get a first-hand look at it," Harkin said.

Harkin said there are elements of the recently passed farm bill designed to assist in recovery, and the senator said he worked aggressively after the 1993 flooding to put other response-and-assistance programs in effect.

The effect on the farm economy is already significant, Harkin said, noting some prediction for $9 corn, which he said would tough on hog, cattle and chicken producers.

Here is The Chicago Tribune:

Heavy rainfall across the Midwest has muddied forecasts for the corn crop, with analysts now predicting a poor harvest and prices that could shoot to once unthinkable levels.

Freshly planted corn and soybeans literally drowned last week, as rain drenched fields in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and elsewhere.

Farmers can respond to the downpour by replanting soybeans late in the season or abandoning their fields, choices that would limit how much corn is available for ethanol, overseas buyers and livestock feed.

"We could easily see corn go to $7, $8 or $9 because we're going to be losing yield," said Phil Flynn, an analyst for Alaron Trading Corp. in Chicago. "And it could be higher if the weather doesn't improve."

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