Flooding and Stored Grain



AMES, Iowa -- Iowa is facing its third significant flooding situation in five years, which again raises the possibility of stored grain being inundated with floodwater. With only a few exceptions, flood soaked grain is not useable for feed or food. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey reminded farmers in a June 21 news release that grain impacted by flood waters, whether in the field or in a bin, is considered adulterated and cannot be used for feed or food.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship warning states, "The grain impacted by flood should be destroyed and not blended with uncontaminated grain. This warning does not apply to immature crops that have been flooded before producing grain."

Northey said there is the potential for a wide variety of contaminants to enter grain through flood waters, so any corn or soybeans that have been submerged are considered adulterated and must be destroyed. “It appears that most of the stored grain has been moved out of areas threatened by flooding, but we wanted to alert farmers and elevators so they can still move grain if necessary," he said.

Before being sold, the grain must be reconditioned with the written consent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The Missouri River flood waters are considered contaminated and not likely to create situations where grain can be salvaged.

Flood damaged grain is considered adulterated under Chapter 198.7 of the Iowa Code. The Code prohibits the manufacturing or distribution of any food or feed from ingredients that are adulterated.

Charles Hurburgh, Iowa State University professor in charge of the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative, reminds farmers that flooding affects both the stored grain and the storage structures. The best option is to move the grain before the flood reaches the bin, and stop using underfloor conveyors and legs once the water starts entering the pits.

"Water coming up from tiles and pits is just as suspect because storm and sanitary sewers are usually compromised in floods," Hurburgh said. "Even field tile water may contain high chemical levels and other contaminants."

A short fact sheet further outlining the handling of flood damaged grain prepared by Hurburgh and Dan Loy, ISU Extension livestock nutrition specialist, is available with other crop and livestock fact sheets on the ISU Extension Dealing with Disasters Web page at www.extension.iastate.edu/topic/recovering-disasters. These resources are updated to meet the immediate needs of Iowans coping with flooding.

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