The House Agriculture Committee Tuesday morning unanimously passed a bill that makes derecho damage eligible for coverage under the WHIP+ Reauthorization Act.
Introduced by Iowa Congressman Randy Feenstra, the legislation would provide assistance to Iowa Ag producers who suffered losses from last year’s devastating derecho storm, which produced wind gusts comparable to a major tornado or hurricane.
Feenstra tells IARN the damage caused by the derecho made it the most expensive thunderstorm disaster in U.S. history.
“I am so thrilled that the derecho damage will now be covered in the WHIP+ Reauthorization Program,” said Feenstra. “The bill passed today, and I never stopped fighting. I introduced it in late January, and I knew how important it was to our Ag producers who suffered losses in last year’s catastrophic derecho. It was about last year at this time when this happened. It was in August 2020, and it caused over $7.5 billion in damage.”
Feenstra clarified that this bill isn’t adding money to the program; it’s just adding devastating winds as a qualifying natural disaster.
“It doesn’t add any dollars to the program,” said Feenstra. “It simply adds derecho winds as a qualifier for disasters. I worked bipartisanly on this issue and just told people how important it was to our state. We finally got it in and I’m looking forward to getting it to the finish line so that there’s dollars there for those that have lost a lot of production in last year’s derecho.”
A Farm Bureau report estimated $147.5 million in losses from the derecho remain unaccounted for, almost one year later.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimated damages from the August 2020 derecho to be $7.5 billion, which is more expensive than nine of last year’s 10 hurricanes and tropical storms that made landfall. The highest estimated wind gust was 140 mph – the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane.