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RSS By: Jeanne Bernick, Top Producer

Jeanne, Top Producer Editor, grew up on a beef cattle operation in Southwest Missouri and now writes from the heart of corn country in Eastern Iowa.

Under water in Iowa

Jun 18, 2008
If you’ve wondered why there hasn’t been a new Biofuels Update posting in awhile, it’s because I’m up to my neck in water. Not literally, but certainly in covering this historic flood event for Farm Journal Media. Thankfully my husband’s family farm in Scott County, Iowa, has been spared flooding (although the crops don’t look so hot due to a wet, wet spring), but lots of folks along the nearby Mississippi River aren’t faring too well.
A levee broke in Oakville, Iowa about an hour south of where I live and flooded 20,000 acres of prime bottomland. Lots of farmers around here say they won’t be able to replant acres they’ve lost. More importantly, people have lost their homes, livestock and equipment. The state of Iowa will recover, but it will take a long time to dry out.
As for the flood’s impact on Iowa biofuels (don’t forget we still lead the nation in biofuels production), the damage is still being assessed. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) estimates that over 300 million gallons (annualized) of ethanol production is off-line. That number could be growing as rivers continue to crest.
IRFA is unaware of any biodiesel production being disrupted due to flooding. Several ethanol and biodiesel plants experienced small disruptions due to lightening and power outages, but nothing significant has been reported.
No ethanol or biodiesel refinery has reported a disruption of feedstock supply that will impact operations, according to IRFA. I suspect that story will change over time.
I’ll be reporting on the impact of the flood and poor crop conditions on biofuels in the coming issues of Farm Journal and Top Producer magazines. But I’d love to hear what you think about the floods impacts on biofuels. What’s the word on your street?
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COMMENTS (2 Comments)

George Poch Rochester Mn.
Jeanne I just started to look at these blogs and found yours regarding the flooding. I do live in SE MN and currently hold a position with our local Soil and Water Conservation District. I do have a back ground in soil survey of which I spent much of my career in. My concern is that we do little or nothing to manage the narrow riparian flood plains along our smaller tributary streams. Many of these areas are now being taken over by invasive woody vegetation. My concern is that the lack of management of these areas are contributing to the down stream flooding that many of these areas are expiriencing. My thought is can these areas be used for bio-fuels production particularly from the prarie grasses that once covered these areas? Take George
9:56 AM Jan 5th
John Trochesset
My brother-in-law and family lives in the bottomland. Their house is receiving flood waters into the second story of their house. It’s hard to fathom the devastation caused by the flood waters unless you stand on Hwy 99 and look towards Oakville.

All that farmland is under water. All those crops lost. In my opinion I think biofuels will be hit hard. I live on high ground with farms around me. As you stated the crops that aren’t affected by the flood are in direr straights. The crops in my area, 11 miles south of Burlington, IA, the corn crops are struggling. The bases of the 8-10 inch stalks are yellow and there is standing water in some of the fields.

With a large portion of the corn crops lost, I think biofuels will take a back seat to animal feed. I guess we will see who has the deeper pocket, agriculture or renewable fuel lobbyist.

My fear is that the present Administration will use this disaster to push for more oil drilling instead of funding developmental programs for biofuels and other alternatives.

7:25 AM Jun 19th
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