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Grassley Hopes Crop Insurance Will Cover Much Of Derecho's Damage To Iowa Agriculture

Damaged corn seen on August 11, 2020 in a field near Elkart in Polk County.
Michael Leland
IPR file
Flattened corn seen on August 11 near Elkhart in Polk County.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will tour damage in central Iowa Thursday from the ferocious derecho that tore through millions of acres of crops. Iowa Republican senior U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley won’t be on that tour, but is hopeful Perdue will accomplish a couple of things.

Perdue is scheduled to join state leaders and Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst on an aerial tour to see the effects of not only the derecho, but also this summer's drought. Grassley said he has a scheduling conflict, but said he hopes Perdue can get a financial estimate on the amount of damage done to agriculture and how much of it crop insurance will cover.

“And hopefully enough of it is covered by crop insurance because that’s meant to be the disaster program,” Grassley said.

On what Perdue will see on the tour, Grassley said, “He’s going to see downed corn in Iowa like I’ve never seen before in my lifetime. I’ve seen downed corn, but not for 150 miles across the state of Iowa. He needs to see that.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency, 57 Iowa counties were in the path of the derecho that went through Iowa on Aug. 10, and there are 14 million acres of insured crops in those counties. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship estimated 36 counties were hardest hit and the derecho likely had the biggest impact on roughly 3.6 million acres of corn and 2.5 million acres of soybeans.

Perdue will also see a nutrient-reducing wetland site and two agribusinesses.

Grassley said he and Ernst are looking for financial help for biofuels if there’s a second stimulus package, particularly assistance similar to how the Trump administration has helped the petroleum industry.

Grassley Sees Potential For Stronger Relationship With Taiwan

Grassley said he sees the potential for a stronger relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan after Taiwan’s president last week announced the country would ease restrictions on U.S. pork and beef imports.

Grassley said Taiwan has made a “real effort” to start a dialogue after the U.S. has been “fighting them” over trade for years.

“It’s very fortunate that they have broken down their barriers and mostly not what we call non-tariff trade barriers, just political excuses to keep our products out,” Grassley said.

Grassley said this is good news, but does not see it as a huge economic benefit.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.