U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue designated 18 Iowa counties as primary natural disaster areas, enabling producers who suffered losses because of the recent derecho to be eligible for emergency loans.

These natural disaster designations allow the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to extend emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs, including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation, or the refinancing of certain debts. 

The counties in Iowa that are listed as ‘primary designation’ and are eligible to apply for the emergency loan are Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hardin, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, and Tama. 

The “contiguous destination” counties that are also eligible for the emergency loan in Iowa are  Adair, Audubon, Black Hawk, Buchanan, Butler, Carroll, Cass, Delaware, Dubuque, Franklin, Greene, Grundy, Iowa, Jackson, Keokuk, Louisa, Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Muscatine, Warren, Washington, Webster, and Wright. The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is May 3, 2021. FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability.

In addition to the emergency loan, FSA has streamlined the environmental compliance review process for the Emergency Conservation Program, Emergency Forest Restoration Program, Emergency Loan Program, Farm Storage Facility Program, and Tree Assistance Program. These programs are meant to address the work required to restore existing crops, fields, orchards, barns, storage facilities, fences, equipment, and general debris removal. However, work required on previously undisturbed ground, new land clearing, or work that would impact any water body, wetland, or riparian buffer is not covered by the streamlined environmental review process.

Furthermore, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making available $4 million in recovery assistance through a special EQIP sign up in parts of Iowa that were impacted by the derecho. 

Applications will be accepted through Oct. 2, 2020. Eligible applicants will receive higher than normal EQIP practice payments rates during this signup. The EQIP funds can be used for: seeding cover crops on impacted fields, replacing roofs, covers, or roof runoff structures previously funded through NRCS and replacing damaged high tunnel systems previously funded by NRCS.

Other available programs include the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; Emergency Conservation Program, Livestock Forage Disaster Program, Livestock Indemnity Program, and Operating and Farm Ownership Loans. These programs and other available recovery assistance do not require a disaster designation. 

Producers and landowners can use the online Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool to identify USDA programs that will help meet disaster recovery needs. For more information on all USDA disaster assistance programs, visit farmers.gov/recover.