Corn flattened by the derecho. (Iowa Ag Department photo)

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is scheduled to visit central Iowa on Thursday to survey the damage from last month’s derecho.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says there’s certainly plenty to see, as the storm’s powerful winds did significant damage to homes, businesses, utility poles, trees — and to millions of acres of crops. “He’s going to see downed corn in Iowa like I’ve never seen before in my lifetime,” Grassley says. “I’ve seen downed corn before but not for 150 miles across the state of Iowa. He needs to see that.”

Shortly after the August 10th storm, Iowa ag officials estimated 10 million crop acres were impacted by the hurricane-force winds statewide, but days later raised that figure to 14 million acres.  “I hope he’s going to get a figure on the amount of damage that’s done, how much of it is covered by crop insurance,” Grassley says. “Hopefully, enough of it’s covered by crop insurance because that’s meant to be the disaster program.”

Prior to the institution of the crop insurance program, Grassley notes how farmers with damage to their fields from natural disasters often had to wait many weeks, even months, for Congress to appropriate disaster relief funds. “Now with crop insurance, we have a farmer-government partnership that’s almost 50-50,” Grassley says. “You can plan this risk ahead of time. If the crop insurance is going to cover the damage, there might not be a need for anything else.”

Grassley says a scheduling conflict will prevent him from accompanying the U.S. ag secretary on the tour. Iowa’s other U.S. Senator Joni Ernst will join Perdue as well as Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig in viewing the derecho damage from an Iowa National Guard helicopter.