President Donald Trump made a brief stop in storm-ravaged Iowa on Tuesday to promise that federal help would be coming "very rapidly" to help the state recover from the straight-line winds last week that knocked out power, steamrolled corn and soybean fields, and smashed grain bins.
“We are going to help you recover from the storm and we will get it done and all get it done together,” Trump said to state and local officials gathered in Cedar Rapids, where he stopped on his way to Arizona.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said most of the $4 billion estimate in her request for federal disaster assistance is agriculture-related.
“These are early estimates – about $4 billion worth of damage, $3.7 billion of that is agriculture between the loss of crops and structures,” Reynolds said.
Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig sent a letter Tuesday to USDA’s Risk Management Agency expressing the need for a no-harvest crop insurance option for farmers whose crops were severely damaged by the derecho.
“Millions of acres of corn around the state were impacted by last week’s storm. The severity of the damage varies by field, but some acres are a total loss and it will not be feasible for farmers to harvest them,” Naig said.
Naig said Iowa corn fields are in late development stages and some corn may not fully recover before harvest. This could cause farmers to suffer yield losses, grain quality issues, and limited marketing options.
Based on satellite imagery and Storm Prediction Center preliminary storm reports, 36 counties in Iowa were particularly hard hit by the derecho, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. 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.
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Several grain storage facilities were also hit by the storm. Cooperatives located in central and east- central Iowa are reporting sites damaged and estimate it will likely cost over $300 million to remove, replace or repair grain bins. Some 57 million bushels worth of permanently licensed storage capacity was damaged or destroyed, according to IDALS.
During the meeting, Sen. Joni Ernst of R-Iowa, brought up an ethanol issue, asking Trump to reject refinery-requested waivers from the Renewable Fuel Standard. He said he would talk to Environmental Protection Agency officials himself about the issue.
In an open letter Tuesday, Iowa farm and biofuel groups welcomed Trump’s expedited disaster approval but urged him to take steps to “robustly” implement the RFS, saying it is also something rural Iowa needs to fully recover from the recent storm and other economic blows.