Storm Damage Pushes Farmers To The Limit

Posted at: 06/23/2014 11:06 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- Recent storms brought high winds, hail, and heavy rain that caused widespread crop damage across our area.

Now many farmers are scrambling to figure out what to do.

On Monday, farmers from across the region gathered for the 18th Annual WHO-Radio Great Iowa Tractor Ride.

Roughly 400 people participated, and for many, the light-hearted ride came as a welcome reprieve from the troubling situation they face at home: crop damage.

"I had some hail on my farm. It's hard to know right away how much that impact is.” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. “I probably lost about one third of the soybeans."

With recent storms coming this late in the growing season, Secretary Northey said farmers have been left with little time to figure out how to respond to the damage.

"Farmers [are] looking at the field right now, trying to figure out what the percentage of the population is still out there,” Secretary Northey said. “Then you compare it against what a replant yield would be. We know it's not going to be 100 percent of normal, it’s going to be less than normal."

Last week Governor Terry Branstad declared a state of emergency in more than a dozen counties, including several in north central Iowa.

And while the declaration will likely bring needed funding for area infrastructure projects, many farmers won't be so lucky, relying instead on crop insurance to try and recoup their losses.

Secretary Northey said the majority of crops should rebound, but only if the rains stop soon.

"A storm can bring the rain that is worth tens of thousands of dollars,” Secretary Northey said. “It can also do, certainly, tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage."

Secretary Northey said most farmers have about a week to decide whether or not they're going to replant.

But on Monday many fields were still too wet, meaning farmers will have an even smaller window in which to get crops in the ground.