agriculture * food * energy * environment
Gov. Dave Heineman was notified Thursday that his request for a federal disaster declaration for Nebraska was approved by President Barack Obama for winter storms in December and January.The current approval covers 34 of the 48 counties in the original request. The 14 remaining counties are still under consideration at this time, but Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has begun assessment to potentially add the other counties to the declaration.
In the coming weeks, NEMA will coordinate with federal officials to determine the full scope and impact of storm damages and begin recovery efforts. NEMA is scheduling applicant briefings in the affected counties beginning March 8 in order to complete project worksheets.
The declaration means federal aid is available to help supplement state and local recovery efforts in 34 counties struck by severe winter storms from Dec. 22 to Jan. 8. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will make funding available to state and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and repairs of facilities damaged in the following 34 counties:
Adams, Antelope, Brown, Burt, Butler, Cass, Cherry, Clay, Dakota, Dodge, Douglas, Gage, Garfield, Hamilton, Jefferson, Johnson, Key Paha, Lancaster, Madison, Morrill, Nance, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, Rock, Saline, Saunders, Seward, Stanton, Thayer, Thurston, Washington, Wheeler and York.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for all counties and tribes within the state.
Al Berndt, NEMA assistant director, said, “These storms produced large amounts of snow and ice throughout the eastern part of the state resulting in an estimated $11 million in damages. This declaration will help the counties affected in their recovery.”
The Aurora Cooperative has announced plans to expand grain storage, drying, and handling capabilities at its three railroad Nebraska terminals located at Sedan, Grand Island, and Aurora (West. The total cost of the facility expansions is estimated at $11 million.
Over the next 18 months, the company, working with its railroad partners Union Pacific and Burlington Northern-Santa Fe, will upgrade its grain terminals to increase velocity of grain movement in receiving, staging, and loading unit/shuttle trains at each facility. In addition, the plan calls for the installation of increased grain drying capacity at the Sedan. When completed, each grain terminal will have the full capability of handling multiple species of grain, including yellow/white corn, soybeans, and winter wheat under Class 1 railroad shuttle-train specifications.
Construction at the Sedan and Aurora West locations will begin during the spring of 2010, with both sites planned to utilize its expansion capabilities for the 2010 fall harvest. Construction at the Grand Island location will begin in the fall of 2010, with completion of expansion planned for the summer of 2011.
“The Aurora Cooperative’s grain customers are class-leading in their ability to produce crops at an ever-increasing yield level,” said George Hohwieler, President and CEO of the Aurora Cooperative.
He said one of the company’s primary missions is to seek, engage, and solidify grain markets for our customers.
Hohwieler said the expansion will greatly add in the coop’s ability to access existing and emerging grain markets, especially global export markets through ports in the Pacific Northwest, West Coast, and Gulf of Mexico.
“Our company has financially performed well over the past several years. We are now in a strategic position to invest in our grain platform in a significant manner,” Hohwieler said. ”
For more information, visit www.auroracoop.com.
Planting delays could be a strong possibility as the National Weather Service in Hastings said the 30 and 90 day forecast calls for slightly below normal temperatures and slightly above normal precipitation.
Also, because of the continued cold temperatures and heavy snow this year, NWS Hastings Hydrologic service area outlook for south central Nebraska this outlook, including the Platte, Loup, Little Blue and Republican Rivers and their tributaries, said many rivers in south central Nebraska have been running above normal this winter due to the increased precipitation since last fall with elevated river levels most notable within the Platte and Loup River Basins as water flow from ice free areas to the west converges with the ice covered areas to the east.
NWS said this elevated flow is expected to continue on the Platte River downstream of Grand Island and throughout much of the Loup River Basin.
“While the risk for flooding due to snowmelt is low, flooding concerns due to ice action and ice jamming remains a possibility well into March on the lower Loup and Platte Rivers,” NWS report said. “The Loup River tends to be the most troublesome river for ice jams, especially downstream of St. Paul. Flooding may also result if additional heavy snow or rain were to occur through mid-March. Rocky Mountain snowpack is generally below normal and is not expected to add enough flow to the Platte River to cause flooding.”
The worst ice jam conditions are expected to be in the Lower Loup River Basin from Genoa downstream, and the Lower Platte River Basin from Columbus downstream, the NWS reports.
Nebraska’ 2009 crop was valued by the USDA Friday at $9.37 billion on the strengh of its record corn and soybean harvest.
All other Nebraska crops fell in value from the previous year.
The 2009 crop in Nebraska hit a milestone as corn for grain production in Nebraska based was estimated at 1.58 billion bushels, up 13 percent from last year and a record high, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office. Yield of 178 bushels per acre is 15 bushels above last year and highest of record.
On Friday, the USDA reported that the crop value for last year’s harvest in Nebraska was $9.376 billion. Corn and soybeans lead the way. Nebraska’s corn crop was valued at $5.82 billion and valued at $2.130 billion. Corn values were $184 million higher than the previous year and soybean values were $226 million higher than 2008.
Soybean production for 2009 totaled 259 million bushels, up 15 percent from last year and a record high. Yield, at 54.5 bushels per acre, is up 8 bushels from last year and highest of record.
Nebraska other two big crops, hay and wheat, were down in 2009, according to the USDA. Last year’s wheat crop was valued at $367.3 million, which was down in value by about $115 million compared to last year as fewer acres were harvested and wheat prices were lower. Last years hay crop was valued at $445 million, which was down $92 million from the previous year.
All other Nebraska, sorghum, proso millet, sunflowers, oats, dry edible beans and potatoes were down in value from the previous year.