Finkenauer Presses USDA Secretary for Information on Derecho Relief for Farmers and Producers

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) on Friday sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue seeking information on potential USDA relief for farmers and producers affected by the derecho disaster.

Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer

Finkenauer is seeking information to help ensure that USDA and Congress are able to maximize potential relief options in the wake of the storm, which affected upwards of 13 million acres of crops and damaged and destroyed farm buildings and equipment across eastern Iowa.

“While crop insurance will come into play here, this storm represents a shock to an agriculture industry that is already reeling from market forces and policy decisions beyond its control,” Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer wrote in the letter. “We must begin considering all possible options to help them recover.”

Finkenauer asked Perdue for the following information:

  • How soon can farmers contact their local Farm Service Agency Offices to register or sign up for the Emergency Conservation Program?
  • Will Iowa have adequate funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help farmers in affected counties with debris clean-up? Is there consideration of an additional EQIP allocation and creation of an emergency EQIP signup?
  • What legislative changes would be required to allow qualifying farmers impacted by the derecho to receive assistance under WHIP+?
  • If the statute was amended to include natural disasters occurring in calendar year 2020, would the derecho be considered a qualifying natural disaster? Would the derecho be considered a tornado?
  • If eligibility for WHIP+ were expanded to include farmers and ranchers impacted by the derecho, would additional appropriations be required to provide such assistance?
  • What additional resources could be deployed to assist our farmers beyond the programs mentioned above?
  • Is USDA considering any means to immediately increase grain storage capacity in affected areas?

Finkenauer’s Ongoing Derecho Relief Efforts:

The rare derecho storm affected more than 20 counties across Iowa, producing straight-line winds that exceeded 100 mph in several locations. Much of the damage took place in counties included in the First District. 550,000 homes were left without power and the total estimated damage is more than $3.9 billion.

On Thursday, 8/20, Finkenauer released a statement on the Administration’s approval of Individual Assistance for Linn County residents impacted by the derecho.

On Thursday, 8/20, Finkenauer visited the Meskwaki Nation in Tama to meet with tribal leaders and view damage from the derecho. Finkenauer also sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday imploring him to approve the tribe’s request for federal disaster aid.

On Wednesday, 8/19, Finkenauer released a Disaster Resource Guide for constituents.   

On Wednesday, 8/19, Finkenauer wrote to President Trump urging him to fully approve Iowa’s request for an expedited major disaster declaration, which includes individual assistance, and urged a waiver of local cost match.

On Monday, 8/17, Finkenauer took part in an electric restoration briefing with Alliant Energy.

On Monday, 8/17, Finkenauer visited Benton County to hear about local storm damage from local leaders and emergency management officials, and visited the Iowa Veterans Home. 

On Sunday, 8/16, Finkenauer joined the full Iowa federal delegation in sending a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to accept Governor Kim Reynolds’ request for an expedited presidential major disaster declaration.  

On Friday, 8/14, Finkenauer visited storm damage in Marshalltown, including the Iowa Veterans Home. 

On Thursday, 8/13, Finkenauer hosted a briefing with Iowa Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Joyce Flinn.

On Thursday, 8/13, Finkenauer urged Reynolds to call for an expedited Presidential Disaster Declaration and joined Cedar Rapids city officials at a press conference to call for expedited federal aid and additional state resources as Cedar Rapids and communities across Iowa work to recover from Monday’s derecho storm. 

On Wednesday, 8/12, she attended a briefing with Cedar Rapids emergency officials.    

On Tuesday, 8/11, Finkenauer sent a letter to Governor Kim Reynolds seeking information and offering assistance in the wake of Monday’s storms that knocked out power and caused widespread damage across eastern Iowa.    

If you need or someone you know has been affected by the storm and needs help, call 1-800-RED-CROSS. For information about state aid for food and health assistance, click here. To volunteer through the United Way of East Central Iowa, click here

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