MINBURN, Iowa — Farmers in the state who saw their crops or livestock destroyed in the derecho of 2020 are eligible for federal emergency relief.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Congresswoman Cindy Axne were on a family farm in Minburn on Wednesday afternoon to let farmers know that $10 billion in federal funding is available to help them recover after weather disasters.

“These cornfields that you see out here in front of you were all flattened, a lot of it was less than knee high,” said Chris Nelson, a farmer in Minburn describes the damage to his property from the derecho two years ago.

The Nelson family just signed their relief application on Wednesday joining the other thousands of Iowan farmers who have received federal support for weather related disasters in 2020 or 2021. Secretary Tom Vilsack outlined how many Americans and Iowans have signed up for relief so far.

“Over 120,000 farmers nationwide have received over $4 billion already under this program,” said Sec. Vilsack. “Under that, about $270 million has come to Iowa farmers.”

Vilsack said that 12,500 Iowa farm families were provided relief from the $270 million spread out through the state; but he also highlighted that there is still around 7,800 families that are eligible but haven’t signed up. The cutoff date for the application is July 22.

The bill was signed into law last September by President Biden, and the application program just opened up in May. Vilsack said things have been moving quickly since the application period started.

“We established the system on May 16, applications could then be received by May 23. By May 30, checks were already going out to Iowa farmers,” said Vilsack.

Sec. Vilsack pointed to a goal of having emergency relief funding be more flexible in the future, as he said there will be stronger and more violent storms to come.

U.S. Congresswoman Cindy Axne explained her breaking party lines to support an expansion of federal relief to include the year 2020, not just 2021.

“Iowa Representative Randy Feenstra introduced an amendment to the House Ag committee to expand the eligibility of disaster relief programs to include the losses of the 2020 derecho, I was there,” said Rep. Axne (D). “I broke with my party and voted in favor of the legislation to make sure that Iowan farmers receive the support they needed when they needed it the most.”

The original bill that included the amendment to extend coverage to disasters from 2020 failed. But, it was passed and signed into law in the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act that Rep. Axne had backed in 2021.

The funding right now covers farmers who had their crops insured. There will be an application period for farmers who had damaged crops but were not insured after this initial application process. There is also funding available for farmers who had damage to their livestock.

Applications are due by July 22, pre-filled emergency relief program applications were mailed out to farmers in late May of 2022. They need to be turned into one’s local Farm Service Agency County Office.