USDA will not survey for volume of grain lost to U.S. March floods

FILE PHOTO: A farming field is seen outside New Madrid, Missouri, U.S., May 17, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s statistical arm will not collect data on the volume of harvested grain lost when farms from the Dakotas to Missouri were hit by flooding in March that burst grain storage bins, a government official said on Tuesday.

However, the figures in the USDA’s regular quarterly stocks report for June will reflect losses due to flooding as well as from more typical usage by processors, exporters and livestock feeders over the preceding three months.

“As of right now we don’t have any intention of collecting anything on grain that was lost,” Lance Honig, crops branch chief of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, said at a meeting in Chicago for USDA data users.

The USDA is scheduled to release its next quarterly stocks report on June 28.

“The stocks report will reflect (grain) inventories as of June first, so any losses that occurred will no longer be represented in the stocks at that time,” Honig said, adding that surveying for the amount of grain lost to flooding “would be a challenge.”

At least 1 million acres (405,000 hectares) of U.S. farmland were flooded after a “bomb cyclone” storm left wide swaths of nine major grain-producing states under water in March, satellite data analyzed by Gro Intelligence for Reuters showed.

Indigo Ag, an agriculture technology company, identified 832 on-farm storage bins within flooded Midwest areas. The bins hold an estimated 5 million to 10 million bushels of corn and soybeans - worth between $17.3 million to $34.6 million - that could have been damaged in the floods, the company told Reuters.

Reporting by Julie Ingwersen, editing by G Crosse