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Iowa farmers with tornado damage find 'gap' in accessing assistance; recovery center aims to help

Posted at 10:00 AM, Jun 14, 2024

TREYNOR, Iowa (KMTV) — The USDA, FEMA, Iowa Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies gathered in one place to help ag producers navigate the maze of services available to them following recent tornadoes. Shelby County, in particular, has 74 damaged farmsteads and approximately $100 million in damage.

  • “FEMA has recognized that there’s a gap in recovery resources and planning for the agricultural community,” said DuWayne Tewes, the federal coordinating officer with FEMA.
  • Apply for HHS benefits, including temporary SNAP benefits: hhs.iowa.gov
  • Iowa Concern Hotline for farm stress, with ISU Extension: 800-447-1985
  • FEMA: DisasterRecovery.Iowa.gov

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:
FEMA knows there's a gap in services between what farmers who were affected by the April tornadoes actually need and what they were able to receive. I’m your southwest Iowa Neighborhood Reporter Katrina Markel in Treynor.

I’m here because a recovery center has been set up specifically for the ag community.

This is a one-day event at the Treynor community center designed to connect the dots between layers of state and federal agencies providing storm assistance to farmers.

DuWayne Tewes is the federal coordinating officer with FEMA for our region. This is the first time they’ve hosted an ag recovery center.

“FEMA has recognized that there’s a gap in recovery resources and planning for the agricultural community,” he said.

With 74 farmsteads hit in Shelby County alone, and approximately $100 million in damages to those farms, there is a huge ag component to this recovery.

Matt Russell, with the Department of Ag Farm Service Agency, says many of the assistance programs were designed for crop damage, but that’s not what happened with this storm.

“So this is a little bit unique this year because we’ve had so many farmsteads hit,” Russell said. “So, we’ve got livestock producers that have been hit, we’ve got their homes, their outbuildings.”

Markel: “Equipment...”

Russell: “Equipment, like all of that.”

And then there’s the stress farmers face.

David Brown, a mental health professional with Iowa State University Extension says there are services through the extension for farmers feeling greater than normal pressure.

“Farm stress comes from a lot of different areas. We know, just the unpredictable nature of farming provides a lot of farm stress,” said Brown.

The “Iowa Concern Hotline” with ISU is one way for farmers to receive counseling, legal education and help with financial concerns.

The Treynor recovery center will be open until 8 pm until Thursday night and at least two more are planned for western Iowa. But the USDA also encourages farmers to come in and visit their local offices if they think they’re eligible for more services.

I’m your southwest Iowa neighborhood reporter Katrina Markel in Treynor.