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Crop Insurance Questions Follow Intentional Levee Breach by U.S. Officials

Homeowners whose property was flooded after the levee at Birds Point, Missouri, was breached by the Army Corps of Engineers on May 3 are questioning...
May 10, 2011

Homeowners whose property was flooded after the levee at Birds Point, Missouri, was breached by the Army Corps of Engineers on May 3 are questioning whether they will be able to collect on crop insurance claims. In his challenge to the Corps' authority to release water into the floodway, Chris Koster, the Missouri attorney general, said that it was unclear whether insurers would compensate losses from the breach. Koster said that some insurers suggested that claims would not be paid since the flooding was not a natural disaster.

In a speech before the National Association of Farm Broadcasting on May 3, Tom Vilsack, the U.S. agriculture secretary, said that farmers affected by the flooding who had crop insurance would be eligible for insurance payouts since the breach was caused by flooding, a natural disaster. He said those without crop insurance won't be able to recoup their losses unless they qualify for another government loan program. Vilsack said other forms of government help will be available for livestock producers and tree farmers under agriculture programs designed to protect them after natural disasters.

With a series of explosions, the Army Corps of Engineers successfully blew out some 11,000 feet of Mississippi River levee. The decision to inundate the 130,000 acres within the spillway's basin almost certainly saved the town of Cairo, Illinois.

For more information on the effects of the domestic floods on crop insurance, read: A Levee Breached, New Worries Downstream (New York Times 5/3/11)

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