A catastrophe for Iowa farmers will not be just a catastrophe for Midwestern Americans. In the Iowa floods, we'll see more evidence of how the problems of weird weather (climate change) combine and ramify the problems associated with peak oil. In this particular case they lead to an inflection point sometime around the 2008 harvest season, which will also be our time of political harvest.
These are not your daddy's or granddaddy's floods. These are 500-year floods, events not seen before non-Indian people starting living out on that stretch of the North American prairie. The vast majority of home-owners in Eastern Iowa did not have flood insurance because the likelihood of being affected above the 500-year-line was so miniscule -- their insurance agents actually advised them against getting it. The personal ruin out there will be comprehensive and profound, a wet version of the 1930s Dust Bowl, with families facing total loss and perhaps migrating elsewhere in the nation because they have no home to go back to.
Iowa in 2008 will be an even slower-motion disaster than Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Beyond the troubles of 25,000 people who have lost all their material possessions is a world whose grain reserves stand at record lows. The crop losses in Iowa will aggravate what is already a pretty dire situation. So far, the US Public has experienced the world grain situation mainly in higher supermarket prices. Cheap corn is behind the magic of the American processed food industry -- all those pizza pockets and juicy-juice boxes that frantic Americans resort to because they have no time between two jobs and family-chauffeur duties to actually cook (note: reheating is not cooking).
Behind that magic is an agribusiness model of farming cranked up on the steroids of cheap oil and cheap natural-gas-based fertilizer. Both of these "inputs" have recently entered the realm of the non-cheap. Oil-and-gas-based farming had already reached a crisis stage before the flood of Iowa. Diesel fuel is a dollar-a-gallon higher than gasoline. Natural gas prices have doubled over the past year, sending fertilizer prices way up. American farmers are poorly positioned to reform their practices. All that cheap fossil fuel masks a tremendous decay of skill in husbandry. The farming of the decades ahead will be a lot more complicated than just buying x-amount of "inputs" (on credit) to be dumped on a sterile soil growth medium and spread around with giant diesel-powered machines.