Midwest Farmers Are Reeling After Wind Storm Rips Through Millions Of Acres

Aug 18, 2020
Originally published on August 14, 2020 8:14 am

Midwestern farmers are assessing crop and infrastructure damage after a high-wind storm, known as a derecho, ripped through the region Monday. 

Iowa and Illinois were two of the hardest hit states, with tens of millions of acres of crops in the path of the storm.

“It’s by far the most extensive and widespread damage that we’ve seen on this farm," says Aaron Lehman, who grows corn and soybeans in Polk County in central Iowa, and is the President of the Iowa Farmers Union. His neighbors, who he says have been farming longer than he has, have never seen anything like it.

Iowa Gov, Kim Reynolds announced a state of emergency in 20 counties on Tuesday, and the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig called the damage "significant" and "severe."

According to Lehman, in some ways, the storm did more damage than a tornado.

“Unlike a tornado, which is a mile-wide, this stretched for a width - of really intense damage - of approximately 40 miles, probably closer to 60-70 miles wide," he says. "Just across the entire state and of course multiple states.” 

The storm comes mere weeks before harvest season begins, and Lehman says he's unsure how it will unfold.

“It’s a little too early to assess how bad the damage to the corn is, but we know it’s really bad. We just don’t know exactly how bad yet," he says.

Lehman says widespread infrastructure damage means farmers will have less room to store crops come harvest time.

Insurance company Country Financial said Friday that it had received more than 100 crop claims in Illinois alone as a result of Monday’s storm, most of which were reported in the northern part of the state.

“According to our field adjusters, damage is mostly light in nature with a few isolated areas with moderate damage.  Most of the claims were due to wind and green snap, followed by hail.  However, we will not know the full damage from the storm until harvest,” the company said in an email statement.

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