Damage to agriculture amid flooding may affect UT . food supply

SALT LAKE CITY – Record-breaking floodwaters continue to sweep across Yellowstone National Park, riverbeds, roads and nearby cabins.

The tourism industry will take some time to recover, and farmers say it could take years for the soil and land to return to normal.

“Mother Nature… is still responsible,” said Brett Mullen of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation. “She is very strong and merciless.”

Walter Schweitzer of the Montana Farmers’ Federation said farmers are bracing for more flooding as the snow melt continues.

READ – Utah Among Those Evacuated From Yellowstone National Park Amid Historic Floods

“There is still a lot of snow in the Yellowstone area,” Schweizer said. “These floods are not going away any time soon.”

The largest agricultural products in Montana, he said, are cattle and wheat, with 95 percent of the wheat crop shipped through the country and abroad.

“A lot of the enemies of agricultural production follow the river valleys, so some of our best soil will be in these river valleys,” Schweizer said. “And now in Yellowstone, everything is under water.”

Mullen said Park County, Wyoming — the county next to Yellowstone — is one of the most heavily irrigated areas in the state.

“Barley, alfalfa, a little corn, beetroot, dry beans,” Mullen listed. “Essentially any crop grown in Wyoming will be grown in the Park County.”

The Wyoming Department of Agriculture told FOX 13 News that cattle and sheep make up the majority of the livestock in that area.

Mullen said he has not heard of any reported flooding on farmland there and hopes dams and reservoirs will mitigate future risks.

“I think most of this water flows west, so the impact on private land in Wyoming would be much less than it would in Montana,” he said.

The Wyoming Department of Agriculture said it’s too early to know the full extent of the crops that have been damaged and how that might affect prices.

Schweizer predicts that the economic recovery will take a long time.

“Montana — agriculture is our number one industry, but tourism is there too,” Schweitzer said. “We will count on Congressional assistance to be able to survive these two blows.”

The Montana Farmers Association has Agricultural Ambassadors who reach out to farmers in affected areas to learn about damage and how they can help.

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