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The lesson from the Iowa flood
Midwest floods have wiped out crops—and exposed harmful policies.
 

What happened
Corn prices rose above $7 a bushel for the first time last week as Midwest flooding hampered crop production in farming states. In Iowa, the country’s top-producing corn state, more than a million acres have been washed out. Two million acres of soybeans also have been lost. (The New York Times)

What the commentators said
“The heavy rains and flooding will have national, and even global, consequences through rising food prices,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. There’s nothing the government can do about the weather, but it can avoid compounding the pain with “bad policy.” So the devastating rains have provided yet another reason for Washington to abandon harmful ethanol subsidies, which drive up grain prices, and inflationary monetary policy.

The floods have hurt so badly they’re “likely to change the way we do a few things,” said David Yepsen in the Des Moines Register, and they should. For one thing, the flood proves Iowa has neglected its aging infrastructure for too long,” and the state’s roads, bridges and, “yes, levees,” just weren’t adequate to face this test. “We're now paying a terrible price for that neglect.”

The nation’s first priority should be compassion for those who are suffering, said the New Orleans Times-Picayune in an editorial. Nobody who lived through Hurricane Katrina “can look at photographs of the rooftops of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, poking out of floodwaters and not feel tremendous sympathy for the residents there.” The “generosity of Americans—including some from Iowa—continues to help” New Orleans to recover, and the people devastated by the floodwaters deserve no less.

 

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