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Amid trade war, floods compound Nebraska farmers' woes

Amid trade war, floods compound Nebraska farmers' woes

ORCHARD (United States) May 18: Already hurt by the US-China trade war, farmers in Nebraska are reeling from this year's devastating floods, which ravaged crops and left little time to plant for the next harvest, reports AFP. Damage from the March rains in the Midwest is visible across the landscape north of Omaha, the state's biggest city: trees have fallen, growing fields are caked in mud and rivers are at elevated levels. "Road Closed" signs pop up often in particularly water-logged areas where bridges and dikes were overwhelmed, making neighborhoods uninhabitable and cutting off public services. Cows are visible in some pastures but many breeders are still tallying their losses. Some animals died in the floods and others perished after being sickened by bad water. "I know people who lost a lot of their animals because they were stranded in the floods," said Jim Dinklage, a farmer in Orchard, about three hours from Omaha. "You couldn't have access to them." Of Nebraska's 93 counties, 81 have declared states of emergency, said Steve Wellman, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. "So 85 percent of the state of Nebraska has been impacted by either flooding or blizzard conditions from the middle of March," he said. Damages are estimated at more than $800 million, about $400 million in the livestock industry and $440 million in crops. Among the 50 states, Nebraska is the third-biggest corn producer and second-biggest ethanol producer. One out of four jobs is tied to farming, the state's biggest sector. In Scribner, north of Omaha, Ruth and Sid Ready describe a closing window of opportunity for the season. Corn is usually planted from mid-April through May, while soybeans are sown through July 1. "It's not like we've got a lot of alternatives out here. You either get your crop in the spring, or you are out of income for the entire year," said Ruth Ready, adding that the floods shrank this season's usable acreage, threatening the next harvest. The couple, who also raise cows, estimate the rains will effectively double the costs in the Nebraska farm belt this year. Clare and Gayle Duda, corn and soy farmers in nearby Ponca Hills, said they were facing a similar situation.

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