Ag News

Bomb cyclone pummels ag in U.S. heartland; Nebraska floods

Ranchers in Plains states, including Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska, are recovering from last week’s “bomb cyclone” that dumped blizzard snowfalls and rain. The melting snow is now flooding farms in Nebraska and neighboring Midwest states. The March 13 storm put parts of seven states under blizzard warnings and 20 states under some level of high wind alert. The storm struck as many ranches are in calving season, costing the lives of many cattle.

Calling the storm “a very epic cyclone,” Greg Carbin, chief of forecast operations at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said, “We’re looking at something that will go down in the history books.”

NOAA released maps on March 19 showing major or moderate flooding in parts of Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin and Illinois. The storm unloaded one to three inches of rain in a short amount of time. As the rain fell, it melted snow already  on the ground. As the snow melted, a massive amount of water began running across the frozen ground into rivers and streams instead of soaking into the soil. Those waterways then swelled to historic levels.

About 200 miles of levees have been compromised in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, published reports say.                        

As of March 19, in Nebraska, where the worst damage is being reported, 65 of the state’s 93 counties and four tribal areas had been declared states of emergency, and in Iowa, 41 of its 99 counties have received disaster proclamations from Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The Washington Post reports Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson as putting early estimates of projected ag losses in his state at $500 million for the ranching sector and $400 million for the state’s row crop sector. Ranching losses include dead livestock and loss of feed sources. Row crop losses include cost of cleaning debris from fields and yields that could be lost due to late planting or not being able to plant crops.           

Anyone wishing to help Nebraska farmers affected by the storm may contribute through the following:

Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation: Nebraska Farm Bureau (NFB) has established a disaster relief fund. All donations made to the fund are tax deductible and will be distributed to Nebraska farmers, ranchers and rural communities affected by the storm/flooding. NFB has also created an Agriculture Disaster Exchange portal on its website for affected farmers to post their needs and people willing to help can post items they are willing to donate or sell, such as hay, fencing, etc. Visit to make an online monetary donation or to access the exchange portal. Checks may be mailed to P.O. Box 80299, Lincoln, NE 68501-0299.

Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund: Please mail and make all checks to: Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund, 4611 Cattle Drive, Lincoln, NE, 68521. Click here for more information.

To view images of the Nebraska floods from Beef Magazine visit

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association shared this video from March 14 of South Dakota ranchers rescuing a bull and calf caught in a snow bank.