After surveying some of the damaged Iowa crop fields by air, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig wrote USDA officials on Tuesday calling for the need to change crop insurance to createa "no harvest option" in areas that suffer serious storm damage.
President Donald Trump signed a disaster declaration for Iowa opening up public assistance for 16 counties in Iowa, though Iowa officials are still waiting on the president to approve disaster assistance for individuals as many as 27 counties. The president was visiting Cedar Rapids, Iowa, early Tuesday afternoon to get an assessment of the damage. Cedar Rapids is Iowa's second-largest city and it was hit especially hard by the storm.
Naig wrote USDA's Risk Management Agency on crop insurance issues, pointing out the derecho flattened corn fields in the late stages of development, creating conditions that may leave the corn unable to fully mature or recover before harvest. Farmers face both yield losses and grain quality issues. The lost bins in the northern and eastern parts of the state also limit marketing options, Naig stated.
"Millions of acres of corn around the state were impacted by last week's storm," Naig said. "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."
In the letter to RMA, Naig wrote that he had spoken with RMA Administrator Martin Barbre about the insurance issues, "and look forward to continue to work with you and the Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) to find a workable solution for all involved."
RMA Summary of Business reports show roughly 11.66 million corn acres, or roughly 96% of Iowa's covered acres, are covered by revenue insurance policies with the harvest-price option. The same applies to Iowa's soybean as well with 8.14 million acres of soybeans covered by revenue policies with the harvest-price option, also about 96% of the covered acres.
Last week, Iowa farmers asked Vice President Mike Pence to allow Iowa farmers to apply for the USDA disaster program created in 2018, the Wildfires and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus, known as WHIP-plus. USDA has not released any guidance regarding how the federal disaster declaration will provide aid for farmers.
Iowa officials estimate more than 57 million bushels of grain-storage capacity was damaged or destroyed during the storm. The co-ops estimate it will cost more than $300 million to remove, replace or repair the damaged grain-storage bins. It's also not clear how much on-farm storage was lost in the storm as of yet.
Iowa officials estimate in the 36 counties hit hardest by the storm, farmers typically grow 3.57 million acres of corn and 2.5 million acres of soybeans.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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