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- DTN Headline News
Floods Hit NW Iowa Cattle Producers
By Jennifer Carrico
Tuesday, June 25, 2024 6:27AM CDT

REDFIELD, Iowa (DTN) -- Flood waters rose quickly in several northwest Iowa counties during the weekend, leaving livestock displaced, missing and perhaps dead.

Kyle Puhrmann of Paullina told DTN that he is missing nine cows and 27 calves from his farm when he last counted on Monday morning.

"We have been sorting and pairing up the cows and calves we can in order to know exactly what is missing yet," he said. "We hope the rest are in with a neighbor's cows about a mile and a half away, but we really don't know yet. We have a small 5-acre pasture we can put some of the cows on, but most will be kept in the lot until we can assess the quality of grass in the flooded pastures, and we have a lot of fences that need repaired and replaced."

The waters of Mill Creek, northwest of Paullina, rose quickly following an initial rain of 1 inch in five minutes on Friday night in already soaked fields from the spring's moisture. "We've had a lot of rain this spring. The ground is hard and compact, and the water just runs off. I was helping my dad at 1 in the morning in his basement, and we could hear cows outside. We knew that wasn't good," he added.

An additional 4 inches came between 10:30 p.m. Friday and 1 a.m. Saturday, causing additional flooding and sweeping away several head of cattle. Puhrmann said the water rose so quickly in the dark, they didn't have time to move the cows and 1- to 2-month-old calves. He had already moved two other groups to safety on Friday.

NOT EASY TO REPLACE COWS

Puhrmann owns the herd with his parents, Kevin and LuAnn, and wife, Lisa. Their children, Kade and Levi, are the fifth generation on the farm. The 95 head of cows are part of a closed herd started by his grandfather, and Puhrmann said when people say cows can be replaced, it's hard to hear. "We have worked hard to raise bulls and replacements for our herd. We don't want to just go buy different ones. We are proud of this herd," he said.

Puhrmann has some silage and hay left over from the past season he will be able to supplement the cattle with and hopes they can return some of them out to the pastures eventually. He expects to lose 30 to 40 acres of corn and soybeans that are underwater and may not survive.

Iowa Cattlemen's Association Director of Government Relations Cora Fox said it's important for cattle producers affected by the floods to document their losses of animals, fence, property, conservation structures, feed and crops with photos and videos.

"Documentation will be needed to report losses to their local FSA for disaster assistance from USDA," Fox said. Programs that could be helpful include Emergency Conservation Program cost-share to assist in restoring farmland and fences; Livestock Indemnity Program payments for dead cattle; and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program payments for grazing losses, purchased forage or feedstuffs, and cost associated with feed delivery due to the adverse weather event.

DISASTER PROCLAMATION HELPS WITH FUNDING

A total of 21 counties in northwest and northern Iowa have received a disaster emergency proclamation due to severe storms and flooding that occurred on June 21. The governor's proclamation allows state resources to be utilized to respond to and recover from the effects of this severe weather.

"Northwest Iowa is experiencing historic flooding not seen since 1993. While the forecast is showing a reprieve from additional rainfall, those downstream need to be prepared as this water heads south," said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. "Our hearts go out to all the Iowans affected by this devastating flooding. We do not yet know the full picture of damage to homes, businesses, farms, crops, livestock, communities and public infrastructure, but we know that it is likely to be substantial and costly. Iowans are resilient and we will get through this together, but this recovery will certainly take some time and require considerable resources."

Puhrmann is thankful for the support of his neighbors and the surrounding communities during the flooding and looking ahead at recovery. "So many people have lost so much. It will take time to remove the silt, sand and soil from the flooding," he added. "And to account for all the livestock in the area."

Additional resources can be found here: https://iowaagriculture.gov/… and https://iowabeefcenter.org/….

**

Editor's Note:

For DTN stories on the recent flooding go to:

-- "Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota Cope With Extreme Flooding After Torrential Rains," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

-- "Wet Field Conditions Could Lead to Issues With Lost Nitrogen Fertilizer," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

-- "How Long Can Flooded Crops Survive?", https://www.dtnpf.com/…

-- "The White Combine Can Be The Kiss of Death For Crops," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Jennifer Carrico can be reached at jennifer.carrico@dtn.com

Follow her on social platform X @JennCattleGal


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