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Disaster relief bill heads to president's desk

Article cover photo
Earlier this week the House approved a $19.1 billion disaster aid package to help those impacted by flooding. In March flood waters from the Missouri River inundated Hamburg and other cities in Iowa causing millions of dollars of damage. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

*Editor's note: Article updated June 7 to reflect the president's signing of the bill. 

By Bethany Baratta, ISA senior writer

Iowa farmers appear to be one step closer to receiving disaster relief funding after the House and Senate earlier this week passed a $19.1 billion federal disaster bill. However, details regarding how Iowans will specifically benefit from the bill remains to be seen.

The federal disaster aid package, which President Donald Trump signed Thursday, provides approximately $3 billion to the USDA Office of the Secretary to cover producers’ agricultural losses due to natural disasters.

Of the $19.1 billion, $435 million will be provided to the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP) for rural watershed recovery.

The package includes $558 million for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) for repairs to damaged farm land.

An allocation of $150 million is made in the package to repair Rural Development Community Facilities in towns affected by natural disasters.

Infrastructure along the Missouri River, including farm to market roads like this pictured, received extensive damage from flood waters. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

“There are still a lot of details that we don’t know yet, but we are one step closer to getting some help from the federal government to getting help on the situation,” said Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) District 7 Director Jeff Jorgenson of Sidney. Many of his crop acres are still under water following the mid-March flooding.

Estimated damage in Fremont, Mills and Pottawattamie counties include a loss of 482,000 bushels of soybeans and 1.9 million bushels of corn, valued at $10.9 million. An estimated 418 grain bins were also damaged when the Missouri River burst its banks. The Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship estimates those losses at $11.6 million.

ISA Director of Public Affairs Michael Dolch said the disaster aid bill is a positive first step in disaster recovery.

“Congressional passage of the disaster aid bill this week was a meaningful step forward for farm families and rural communities plagued by challenging market prices and destructive weather conditions. With President Trump expected to sign, this long-awaited package will directly benefit farmers who lost crop and livestock,” Dolch said.

Funding for on-farm stored commodities and crops prevented from planting in 2019, as well added flexibility for recipients of the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), will prove significant as planting delays continue in the state, Dolch noted.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, who serves as chair of the ag working group under Governor Kim Reynolds’ flood recovery advisory board, said the funding provides some assurance to farmers waiting for waters to recede before they start field and land recovery efforts.

“This is a critical first step to recovery. I am committed to working with the affected landowners and agribusinesses as they clean up fields and damaged grain and take important steps to resume normal business activities,” Naig said.

ISA’s Dolch praised efforts in the House and the Senate to get the bill passed.

“We commend the hard work and leadership of Iowa’s congressional delegation, especially Senators Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst and Representative Cindy Axne, for helping this package across the finish line,” Dolch said. 

Contact Bethany Baratta at

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