Published: Jul 08, 2011 9:07 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 08, 2011 8:07 PM EDT

DES MOINES, Iowa - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is taking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to task for its handling of the Missouri River, which has flooded thousands of acres of farmland in seven states.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of a June 28 letter in which Vilsack questions the Corps' decision not to release more water from dams earlier in the spring to prevent prolonged flooding this summer. The flooding followed spring rains and the melting of a deep Rocky Mountain snowpack.

The letter to the Corps' acting commander also says farmers and ranchers didn't receive timely information about the Corps' water releases.

Vilsack spokesman Justin DeJong declined to comment on the letter.

Corps spokeswoman Jasmine Chopra defended the agency's river management, saying this year's flooding was unprecedented.

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