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Derecho windstorm destroys Iowa harvests, causes catastrophic destruction over millions of acres — and casts ominous shadow on heartland future



Photo by Daniel Acker/Getty Images

A violent windstorm ripped across America's heartland last week, devastating the Corn Belt with insurmountable damage to the season's harvest.

What are the details?

Last week, a derecho windstorm ravaged millions of acres of corn and soybeans fields in Iowa as winds gusted at over 100 mph.

According to the New York Times, Iowa state officials estimate that at least 14 million acres of necessary farmland were damaged by the gusting winds.

In addition to ruined crops, hundreds of millions of bushels of commercial storage grain as well as tens of millions of bushels of on-farm storage grain were also lost to the devastating storm.

Shannon Textor, a spokesperson for the Iowa Corn Growers Association, told the outlet that it may be weeks to determine the monetary loss as a result of the storm.

"It's really hard to get your arms around the devastation at this point," Textor admitted.

Corn and soybeans in Iowa are typically harvested in September and October. This year, the outlet notes, was set to be one of the largest producing harvests in several years.

In 2013, demand for corn and soy slowed as production increased, according to Chad Hart, due to a variety of factors including leveling out of the ethanol industry, the Times reported.

The slow demand led to a massive decline in prices, which was compounded by international trade disputes.

Farmers who were attempting to regain their footing over the last several years began to breathe easier after 2019 — and then came the storm.

Jim Greif, a corn and soybean farmer, told the Times, "The short story is 2019 was the year from hell and we were glad when it was over. Now, 2020, I don't know what you'd call it, but it's worse than last year."

The disaster is also especially problematic as the loss of the corn crop will affect livestock producers even more than what's already happening because of COVID-19.

Iowa is No. 1 in the country for its corn and ethanol production.

What else?

President Donald Trump on Tuesday discussed the ravaged state and promised Iowans the "full support of the federal government in recovery.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said that the devastation caused an estimated $4 billion in damages from the storm.

During a briefing with the president, Reynolds described the storm as a "40-mile-wide tornado that went through the state of Iowa."

Iowa State Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig added, "There are millions of acres of corn that just won't flat-out be able to be harvested."

“We're going to help you recover from the storm and we'll get it done and we'll get it done together," Trump said.

You can read more about local farmers' experiences following the massive storm here.

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