March 16, 2020, 6:45 a.m.
One year after historic flooding in eastern Nebraska, state officials are still working on recovery efforts. They say farmers could face higher crop insurance premiums this year.
Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman says one of the most critical issues for farmers this year is crop insurance.
"The producers that have land next to these federal levees that are not repaired, they will face a higher risk for flooding in 2020," Wellman said. "Because of that higher risk their premium will probably be higher."
Wellman says the risk assessments aren’t finalized yet, and he’s working with officials in Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, along with the USDA, to mitigate higher premiums as much as possible before planting. He says the majority of federal levees have been repaired, but not all — and not all levees are under federal regulation.
Wellman says his department is also better prepared to respond to stress and other mental health concerns.
"We're going to prepare our ag team better to take phone calls and have in person conversations with farmers and ranchers under stress," he said. "When we have somebody that we need to refer, we'll be able to do that in a much more efficient manner than we've had in the past."
Officials are also working through ongoing challenges with housing and infrastructure repair.
The National Weather Service says the risk of flooding this year is elevated, especially along the Missouri River.
"I think it's pretty easy to say that Nebraska agriculture is really glad to have 2019 behind us," Wellman said. "And we're ready to move on and continue the good work that the farmers and ranchers do here every day for our state and for people throughout the world."