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Devils Lake Flooding Continues To Cause Agricultural Losses

Potential earnings from agriculture continue to be lost because of high water in the Devils Lake basin.

The current estimate of cropland that will be lost to the lake in 2015 is 133,888 acres, according to Jeff Frith, manager of the Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resource Board, and Bill Hodous, North Dakota State University Extension Service Ramsey County agent.

Total direct losses are estimated at nearly $40 million due to reduced sales of crop production as a result of inundated acres, according to Dwight Aakre, NDSU Extension Service farm management specialist. The largest losses are in spring wheat and soybeans, each at about 26 percent of the total. Other crops with major losses include 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 $145.8 million, according to Randal Coon, NDSU research specialist. These losses include reduced personal income of $38 million and reduced retail trade activity of $32 million. The loss of business activity ultimately is reflected in lost jobs in the region. Secondary employment losses are estimated at 170 jobs.

Lost tax revenues are estimated to be $2.2 million, due primarily to a reduction in sales tax revenue. Personal and corporate income taxes also will be reduced.

The data used for the study included the five-year average acreage of each crop grown in the area, five-year average yield for each crop and estimated 2015 marketing year average price for each crop.

Approximately 10,000 acres of additional cropland is estimated to be lost for every 1 foot rise in the level of Devils Lake. The impact of this additional loss of agricultural production is estimated to be nearly $3 million per year. Secondary losses would add another $7.9 million for a total loss of $10.8 million. The impact on employment would be a loss of 11 full-time equivalent jobs.

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.

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