Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

Iowa Farmers Looking Towards Recovery from Derecho

Podcasts / Newsline August 27, 2020

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Farmers in central Iowa are cleaning up and preparing for an uncertain harvest following the derecho storm earlier this month. Micheal Clements tells us how much work is ahead for the region.

Clements: The derecho event cut an 80-mile swath across Iowa, impacting roughly 14 million acres of crops and severely damaging four million acres of corn, while soybeans appear to be recovering. Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill says the damage is devastating.

Hill: Many of our fields are flattened. Grain bins destroyed, buildings, roofs were lost. Some homes of course lost siding and roofs as well. Power lines destroyed, cell service, internet service was all lost. We had 500,000 homes without electricity, and some were still without after about ten days of extensive repairing.

Clements: Hill says harvesting downed corn is difficult and finding storage for harvested crops will be a challenge going forward.

Hill: Machines will be slowed, and many of those machines were damaged in their buildings. So, a lot of our harvesting machines aren’t going to be ready. 57 million bushels of commercial storage and probably 60 million of farm storage has been lost. And we’ll be cleaning up for a year or two. So, these structures will not be replaced immediately.

Clements: From flooding last year, a pandemic this year, and now a derecho, Hill says those events are changing Iowa agriculture permanently.

Hill: These events have taken a broad swath out of Iowa. It’s dashed the hopes of a lot of our farmers. Some will be able to recover, others will not. We will depend a lot on insurance and disaster relief. But this will be years before we recover completely, and some farmers will take this opportunity to retire or find a career somewhere else other than the farm.

Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.

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