Iowa Gov. Chet Culver announced last week that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has declared 22 Iowa counties as disaster areas. On August 12, Gov. Culver wrote Secretary Vilsack requesting a Secretarial Disaster Designation following damage to crops and significant production losses due to severe hailstorms and high winds and some flooding that struck various areas of Iowa between May 15 and July 31, 2009.
"I want to thank Secretary Vilsack and USDA for issuing these declarations," said Culver. "Thanks to this action, Iowa's farmers and the entire ag community now have access to much needed disaster assistance following summer's severe weather. I will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure that Iowa farmers have the tools and resources they need to return their lives to normal."
The declarations were made after assessments on crop losses were done throughout the state. Declarations are still pending for several Iowa counties not covered by last week's announcement, but may be added at a later date.
Contact local FSA office for information about SURE
The Secretarial Designation will expand eligibility for individuals in the affected and contiguous counties for additional USDA assistance, including resources available through the SURE permanent disaster program, created in the 2008 Farm Bill. Iowans are encouraged to contact their local Farm Service Administration office for further information.
The USDA Secretarial Designation applies to the following 22 counties:
- Van Buren
In addition, the USDA Secretarial Designation applies to 35 counties contiguous to the above list:
- Black Hawk
- Buena Vista
- Cerro Gordo
- Palo Alto
"This is for the 2009 crop," says William Edwards, Iowa State University Extension farm economist. "This means farms in these counties will be eligible for SURE payments on their 2009 insured crops, to be received in 2010, if they had a 10% or higher yield loss on at least one crop."
He adds, "We will get this information posted on ISU's Ag Decision Maker Web site, but the rules will be the same as explained in the current SURE fact sheet. Many of the hail victims would have been eligible anyway, under the 50% loss rule, but this will extend it to people who had less severe losses. Payments are based on yields reported for crop insurance, so they don't need to do anything extra for SURE. Applications for SURE payments on last year's crops will be accepted starting November 3, but I don't have any information yet from FSA on what those payments will be.