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Southwest Iowa Farmers 'Cautiously Optimistic' For Year Ahead After 2019 Flooding

Katie Peikes
IPR file
Flooding in southwest Iowa soaked fields and destroyed almost 2 million bushels of corn and half a million bushels of soybeans.

Southwest Iowa farmers are preparing for next year after suffering big losses from this year’s Missouri River flooding. Some say they are worried about more flooding in 2020, but are sticking to their livelihood.
Flooding in southwest Iowa destroyed almost 2 million bushels of corn and half a million bushels of soybeans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency’s Iowa office.

In Fremont County, most of Dustin Sheldon’s 2,500 of farmland flooded out. Eight-hundred acres sit between the levee and the Missouri River bank, and Sheldon said there is a large chance he will not be able to farm that next year.

“There’s channels out through it, there’s big holes, there’s lots of trash,” Sheldon said.  

Sheldon could not plant this year. Jeff Jorgenson, who farms corn and soybeans in Sidney, also could not plant on 750 acres of his farm because they were so soaked with water from last spring. Jorgenson said he still has a lot to do before he plants his crops next April.

“There’s still a fair amount of cleanup of materials, you know, trash,” Jorgenson said, “And filling of scour holes where the ground was eroded.”

With wet conditions predicted in winter, flooding two years in a row would be devastating for farmers and very hard on local agriculture, Sheldon and Jorgenson said.

“Both financially and whether they want to put up that much risk may be for nothing, you know,” Sheldon said.

But farmers remain “cautiously optimistic”, Jorgenson said. “Reality could set in to what we had previous, but [our] hope is that the coin flips and it goes better for us.”

Sheldon said some farmers, including himself, made money this year through providing equipment and labor to crews fixing levee breaches.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.