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USA - Iowa storm devastates farms as nearly half of state's row crop acres damaged

Throughout Eastern Iowa, the full extent of the damaged caused by this week’s storm still remained largely unknown by Tuesday afternoon but it’s clear farmers will bear a devastating blow.

Crops were flattened in their fields, buildings were torn apart and grain bins collapsed in the 100 mph winds.

“This will ruin us,” said Keystone resident Darold Sindt as he studied the town’s collapsed grain bins, which are owned by ADM.

Dustin Kaestner, owner and operator of an agricultural retail business called Kaestner Seed, expects to see his business stall in the coming months. However, he said he’s more concerned at this point about his farm in Benton County.

The farm, which has belonged to the family for about 160 years, saw extensive damage, including a destroyed shed and a missing roof from the back of the family home. Much of his field crops were damaged in the wind, and as a result, harvest will be a tedious and time-consuming process come fall.

Likely, his whole crop will be a loss, he said.

“This is a catastrophic scenario,” said Kaestner, 41, who rode out the storm on Monday in his pickup truck.

“In the past, you typically see farmers helping farmers. You can’t this time, because everyone was hit,” he said.

Iowa farmers sustained “significant, severe” damage to crops, storage facilities and other structures, but Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said it will take some time to get a clear view of the financial, crop yield and production losses.

State Climatologist Justin Glisan said the middle third of Iowa took the brunt of “extremely violent” straight-line winds and driving rain — including areas Naig indicated until Monday were looking at being very good, “potentially historic crops.”

“It’s incredibly devastating to see what’s happening to crops and structures all across the storm path,” he said.

Now, the ag secretary said, it will depend if cornstalks “laid down” by the hurricane-like winds will bounce back in the maturing weeks leading up to harvest or be lost along with “tens of millions” of bushels of stored grain that were damaged or destroyed by the fast-moving storm.

Naig said the financial cost should be evident in the next week or so.

Iowa has about 30 million acres of agricultural land — up to 24 million of that dedicated to row-crop production, Naig said. About 10 million of that was negatively impacted by the storm.

“This is a very emotional situation for a lot of Iowa farmers,” said Naig, in promoting the 800-447-1985 Iowa Concern Hotline for any rural Iowans struggling to deal with losses, repairs, clean up chores and financial disruptions. “That stress is real.”

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