After Tom Vilsack visited Ely on Tuesday, he stuck around Iowa for one more farm tour. This time to promote a USDA program in Minburn.

Tom Vilsack touring Dan and Debbie's Creamery Via Kailey Foster
Tom Vilsack touring Dan and Debbie's Creamery Via Kailey Foster

Back in 2020, farmers like Chris Nelson were hit hard by the derecho. Nelson and his family farms on 1,200 acres. When the derecho hit, his cornfields were all flattened and the metal bins of hay were destroyed.

And the Nelsons were not alone. Farmers have been picking up the pieces from the derecho for the last two years. For some they were able to start the recovery process right away, for others, like Jodi and John Phillip, they had to wait two years to move past the tragedy.

Farmers across Iowa have been faced with billions of dollars in damage when their crops, silos, and barns were destroyed. But, during his visit to Iowa, Vilsack reminded farmers they are not alone.

In 2021, the Emergency Relief Program was signed into law which set aside $10 billion to help cover crop damages from the 2020 storm. Applications have been accepted since May 23 and will close on July 22.

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So far, Vilsack says 120,000 farmers have received $4 billion of the funding, with $270 million going to Iowa Farmers. An article in Iowa Capitol Dispatch says Vilsack joked that the reason he was in Minburn was to make sure the Nelson family had applied for the aid.

The Emergency Relief funding is a start in how the government plans to help farmers in the rise of natural disasters. Vilsack says disaster preparation measures need to be addressed in the next farm bill.

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