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Vast Flood Damage to U.S. Cornbelt Calls Question: Ban Food Speculation and Biofuels

June 15, 2008 (EIRNS)—The flood disaster now raging across the multi-state U.S. Cornbelt, is causing not only vast damage and harm to the population, but a direct hit against the world food system, because of the concentration here of grain, soy, cattle, pigs, eggs, food processing, shipping, and farm machinery manufacture. The impact on food supplies is intensified, because under recent decades of globalization, more and more of the world food chain was centralized into cartel-chosen zones, instead of spread across productive landscapes throughout all nations. The Iowa/Illinois Cornbelt—and surrounding states—is one such zone. Almost half of the world's annual corn production is produced in the United States, mostly in this now-stricken Midwest region.

Still worse, much of its infrastructure is decrepit, because of the underfunding of the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates 100 levee systems across the Midwest. The levee that broke June 14 in Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, was a non-Corps, local project, and "was built back in the 1950s and it was never built appropriately, as far as we're concerned," said Ron Fournier, Army Corps spokesman, to media this weekend.

The London genocidalists centered world corn ethanol production in Iowa. Besides directly destroying food, this also undermined the potential economic integrity of the entire Mississippi-Missouri River Basins, and its rail, barge, grain handling, and processing networks.

Below are the latest updates on the extent of the damage from the floods, still raging. The disaster calls the question: Speculation on food commodities must be stopped. Biofuels must be stopped.

  • The flooding extends over significant parts of 10 states, centered on the tributary networks of the Upper Mississippi and Missouri River Systems, and also the Lower Ohio Valley. Barge traffic is closed down completely on 300 miles of the Mississippi River. Highways, local bridges, and roads are flooded out entirely in dozens of counties. Today, the Air National Guard from West Virginia and Mississippi were doing reconaissance on the condition of highways in southern Indiana. On June 17, the Mississippi could crest at 25.1 feet between Illinois and Iowa; flood stage is defined as 14 feet.

    The boundaries of the hardest-hit state, Iowa, are defined by the Mississippi on the east, and the Missouri on the west; the high-water crests of the tributaries going southeastward into the Mississippi—the Cedar, Iowa, and Des Moines rivers and others—are crashing through towns, flooding fields, and causing ruin. Already, 83 of the state's 99 counties have been declared as official disasters. In Des Moines, the capital, with 200,000 people, a levee was breached, and a voluntary evacuation order issued for parts of the city. In Cedar Rapids (pop. 140,000), a 14 sq. km. area is inundated; 24,000 people evacuated; only 25 percent of treated water is available. The town's Union Pacific rail bridge broke June 10 across the Cedar River, which in particular served the John Deere Tractor Works in town. Downstream, the I.C.& E. Rail bridge is near the collapse stage. Residents were asked to leave from the town of Columbus Junction, at the confluence of the Cedar and Iowa Rivers.

    In Illinois on June 14, evacuation orders were issued for residents of Keithsburg, after a levee gave way north of town. Evacuation was also ordered for residents of Carman.

  • Crop damage is guaranteed, though the extent is still in question. Iowa may lose 2 million acres of soybeans, or 20 percent of its production. It may lose more than 10 percent of its corn. The floods have come after a cold, wet Spring had already retarded and potentially jeopardized crops throughout the Midwest. There is barely a two-week window left for the "luckiest" regions to either re-plant or file for crop-loss insurance.

  • Livestock food processing hit. Rush measures are underway to deal with thousands of hogs in the flood zones. (Iowa ranks first in the nation in number of hogs and number of laying hens, besides being number one in corn and second in soybeans.) Cargill shut down its meat plant in Ottumwa, Iowa. Tyson Foods shut down its slaughtering unit at Perry. The John Deere works are shut down at Waterloo.

  • Speculators' Wet-Dream. This devastation is seen as a bonanza by speculators, whose crimes are going unregulated by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. For example, the price of corn on June 13 hit $7.35 a bushel, after being at $6 in May.