President Donald Trump approved Iowa’s request for an expedited request for a disaster declaration, following last week’s devastating derecho that inflicted damage to crops, grain storage and other agriculture infrastructure.
Trump made the remarks to reporters Monday morning in Washington as he was leaving for a campaign stop in Minnesota. On Sunday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds requested a presidential major disaster declaration, requesting about $4 billion in federal assistance.
On Friday, USDA’s Risk Management Agency reported 57 Iowa counties were in the path of the storm, where an estimated 14 million acres of insured crops may have been affected. That includes 8.2 million acres of corn and 5.6 million acres of soybeans.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig released more details on potential crop damage.
“Based on MODIS satellite imagery and storm prediction center preliminary storm reports, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship believes 36 counties in Iowa were hardest hit by the derecho,” the department said in a news release on Friday.
“Within those 36 counties, the storm likely had the greatest impact on 3.57 million acres of corn and 2.5 million acres of soybeans.”
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship estimates hundreds of millions of bushels of commercial grain storage and tens of millions of bushels of on-farm grain storage was lost in the storm. In 2019, Iowa’s grain storage capacity was 2.1 billion bushels on-farm and 1.52 billion bushels off-farm, according to USDA.
The president can declare a major disaster declaration for any natural event that the president believes has caused damage of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments to respond. The declaration opens the door to federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work.
In Reynolds’ disaster declaration request, she said 8,273 homes were destroyed or had major damage. In addition, Reynolds estimated $23.6 million of damage occurred to public infrastructure, with an additional $21.6 million in cost associated with removal and disposal of storm debris.
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Reynolds requested funding under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individual Assistance Program for 27 counties including Audubon, Benton, Boone, Cass, Cedar, Clarke, Clinton, Dallas, Greene, Grundy, Guthrie, Hardin, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Madison, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, Tama and Washington.
Reynolds also requested FEMA funding through its public assistance program for the repair or replacement of public infrastructure and debris removal in the counties of Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story and Tama.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he and fellow Sen. Joni Ernst had reached out to the White House over the weekend calling for the president to expedite federal disaster approval.
“I have never seen the corn flattened as much as it has from this windstorm, this hurricane-style windstorm,” Grassley said, adding that parts of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, had “terrific damage I’ve never seen before.”
Grassley described the number of grain bins damaged as “humungous.”
All states affected lost grain bins and equipment, but Iowa was hit particularly hard.
During a rally in Des Moines last week, Vice President Mike Pence pledged the administration’s support to help Iowa recover.
“I’ve been touring some of the hardest-hit parts of the state this week to speak with farmers and agribusinesses that were impacted by the derecho,” Naig said in a statement.
“These farmers put significant resources into this crop and were planning for strong yields. Now their crops have been damaged — some destroyed — and the state has lost tens of millions of bushels of grain storage just a few weeks before harvest begins. This is a devastating blow to the agricultural community that is still recovering from the pandemic.”
Todd Neeley can be reached at email@example.com
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