Sasse tours flood damaged ADM facility

April 7, 2019 GMT

With trucks driving in and out of the ADM facility in Columbus as a backdrop, U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse held a press conference on Friday morning.

The event followed a tour of the flood-damaged facility along with a meeting the senator attended with Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson and Nebraska Cattlemen President Mike Drinnin. Sasse said that the facility is currently dealing with issues of rail congestion, with 250 train cars damaged from the flood being repaired on site at the ADM plant.

“Nebraskans have a sense, when we have 93 counties and 81 of them are in a state of emergency, Nebraskans understand that this is going to be a long recovery, as a matter of months and years, not days and weeks,” Sasse said. “Today is a good opportunity for me and my team to be traveling with Nebraska Farm Bureau, with the Nebraska Cattlemen, in particular, listening to those folks to help us understand what else we can do.”

Todd Wickens is the plant superintendent at ADM. He said repairs to the facility are ongoing and that the senator’s visit was productive.

“I think it went well,” Wickens said about the senator’s tour. “Really just trying to give him an idea of what the impacts of the floods were from our standpoint, some of the challenges we’re still dealing with ... It’s interesting to see just how much of an affect something like this has on a facility.”

At the moment, one of Sasse’s priorities is expanding federal funding to disaster-affected areas. Last week, he and U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer sent a letter urging FEMA to expedite aid for Nebraska counties which have not yet been designated eligible for individual assistance.

Both the Nebraska Cattlemen and the Nebraska Farm Bureau are also trying to do their part with providing relief funds for those affected by the disaster. In a press release from March 18, Nebraska Cattlemen President Mike Drinnin said The Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund will distribute 100 percent of the funds it receives to state cattle producers affected by the natural disaster.

“Recent snow and flooding have wreaked havoc on Nebraska’s livestock industry, causing damage and losses for countless producers across the state. We know the needs are great, and we hope this new fund will help Nebraska’s cattle producers who are suffering,” Drinnin said, through a released statement.

In another press release from March 21, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson echoed Drinnin’s statement regarding its disaster relief fund from the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. His letter also said the Bureau has also developed a “want ad” page called the Agriculture Disaster Exchange to provide Bureau members help regarding flood repairs.

“While these programs will certainly not make anyone whole, we hope this new level of federal assistance paired with the unmistakable resiliency of our citizens will help all of those affected get back on their feet,” Nelson said, through a released statement.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.