Naig emphasizes derecho-related crop damage, harvest challenges with USDA leaders
DES MOINES — Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig took an aerial tour of central and east-central Iowa Tuesday, Aug. 18, to evaluate parts of the state that were hit hard by last week’s derecho. After getting a bird’s eye view of the damage and spending the past several days walking fields and speaking with farmers and agribusinesses who were affected by the storm, Secretary Naig sent a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) emphasizing the need for a no-harvest crop insurance option for farmers who suffered severe crop damage.
“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,” said Secretary Naig. “I’ll continue to work with farmers, USDA and crop insurance providers to identify solutions as we approach a very challenging harvest season.”
The sustained, high winds caused by the derecho flattened many corn fields and left some stalks bent at an angle. Iowa corn fields are in the late stages of development and the corn may not fully mature or recover before harvest, leaving farmers to deal with yield losses, grain quality issues and limited marketing options.
Estimated commercial grain storage losses
The Iowa Department of Agriculture has been consulting with commercial co-ops, industry representatives, farmers and landowners to estimate the amount of grain storage lost after the derecho’s high winds shredded grain bins as it moved through the state.
Several cooperatives located in central and east-central Iowa are reporting sites damaged by the derecho. Early estimates indicate more than 57 million bushels of permanently-licensed grain storage was seriously damaged or destroyed. The co-ops estimate it will cost more than $300 million to remove, replace or repair the damaged grain storage bins.
Tens of millions of bushels of on-farm storage were also lost during the storm. This may create grain storage challenges as farmers head into the 2020 harvest. In 2019, Iowa farmers harvested 2.6 billion bushels of corn and 502 million bushels of soybeans, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
Estimated crop damage
Last week, the USDA RMA reported 57 counties in Iowa were in the path of the derecho. There are approximately 8.2 million acres of corn and 5.6 million acres of soybeans in those counties that may have been impacted by the storm.
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. 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.
About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 12 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land for the next generation. Learn more at iowaagriculture.gov.