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Haig, Reynolds say farmers need help after severe storms

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(The Center Square) – Farmers in eight Iowa counties need federal assistance to recover from the severe storms that swept through Iowa last month, Gov. Kim Reynolds and Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said in a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The National Weather Service said 19 tornadoes touched down in Iowa on April 26. One person died and six were injured in the storms that continued through April 27.

President Joe Biden approved Reynolds’ request for disaster assistance for residents on Tuesday. The declaration will help homeowners and businesses, but the eight counties also have agricultural losses, Reynolds and Haig said in the letter.

“Disaster assistance programs only offered through the Farm Service Agency following a Secretarial Designation, including the Farm Loans Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program, are needed to help Iowa farmers recover from these storms,” they said in the letter. “As a result, we respectfully request your consideration and prompt issuance of U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretarial Designation and activation of any and all eligible assistance for the following eight Iowa counties: Clarke, Harrison, Mills, Polk, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Shelby, and Union.”

Farmers are also facing issues because of the continued rainy weather, Haig said in his weekly crop progress and condition report. Only 1.7 suitable planting days occurred during the week ending May 12, leaving planters parked in most of the state, he said.

“We need sunshine and light breeze to get back into the field. Although chances of thunderstorms remain in the forecast, conditions are trending warmer and quieter mid to late week,” Haig said. “Once the conditions are right, farmers will get back to planting.”

About 57% of the corn crops are planted according to the report. It’s a week behind last year and lags five days from the five-year average. The soybean crop is a week behind last year at 39% planted. The oat crop is ahead of last year, with 98% planted.

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