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NDSU Extension Service, Published April 30 2013

Devils Lake flooding continues to cause agricultural losses

Drier conditions during 2012 reduced the level of Devils Lake from the recent record level, but it is expected to rise again this year due to the heavy snowpack in the Devils Lake watershed.

Estimates are that nearly 161,000 acres of cropland will be lost to the lake in 2013, according to Bill Hodous, North Dakota State University Extension Service agent in Ramsey County.

"Total direct losses are estimated at nearly $54 million due to reduced sales of crop production as a result of inundated acres," says Dwight Aakre, NDSU Extension Service farm management specialist. "The largest loss is from spring wheat, at more than 25 percent of the total. Other crops with major losses include soybeans, corn, edible beans, barley and canola."

The total impact on business activity in the region from direct and indirect losses this year is estimated at $198 million, according to Randal Coon, research specialist in the NDSU Agribusiness and Applied Economics Department. These losses include reduced personal income of $52 million and reduced retail trade activity of $44 million.

The loss of business activity ultimately is reflected in lost jobs. Employment losses are estimated at 267 jobs for the region.

Tax revenues will decline primarily due to a reduction in sales tax revenue. Personal and corporate income taxes will be reduced also.

The data used for the study include the five-year average acreage of each crop grown in the region, five-year average yields for each crop and estimated 2013 marketing year average price for each crop.

This analysis quantifies the extent of the lost agricultural production in the Devils Lake Basin due to the continued high water levels in Devils Lake, Stump Lake and the surrounding area. It does not include any nonagricultural costs associated with roads and other infrastructure.

Hodous, Aakre and Coon have been studying Devils Lake losses for several years.