Iowa counties declared natural disasters due to drought

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack emphasizes the importance of prompt action


In response to the ongoing drought conditions plaguing Iowa, Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack declared 24 Iowa counties as primary natural disaster areas.

The proclamation addressed to Governor Kim Reynolds on Monday, April 1, underscores the severity of the drought's impact on agricultural communities across the state.

The designated counties include Muscatine, Cedar, and Scott County, among others, which have felt the adverse effects of prolonged dry spells.

The designation enables farmers in these areas to apply for emergency loan assistance provided by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), subject to meeting eligibility criteria.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the affected counties experienced a drought intensity value categorized as either D2 Drought-Severe or D3 Drought-Extreme for eight or more consecutive weeks during the growing season.

According to the National Weather Service, the driest area is in northeast Iowa where precipitation deficits range from 12.67 inches near Ionia, Iowa (Chickasaw County) to 20.17 inches in Charles City, Iowa (Floyd County).

Due to these deficits, abnormally dry (D0) to extreme (D3) drought lingers south of Interstate 90.

The drought is impacting river flows across the region. As of March 27, the lowest flows were found at Bloody Run Creek near Marquette, Iowa, Upper Iowa near Dorchester, Iowa, and Yellow River near Ion, Iowa.

The abnormally low flows on these aforementioned rivers and creeks are also tied to the lack of snowmelt. 

Secretary Vilsack's proclamation acknowledges the dire circumstances faced by farmers and the need for immediate relief measures.

Farmers in the designated counties, as well as those in contiguous areas, will have access to FSA emergency loans, offering crucial financial support.

The FSA evaluates each loan application based on the extent of production losses and the financial standing of the applicant, ensuring assistance reaches those most in need.

Secretary Vilsack emphasized the importance of prompt action, urging eligible farmers to apply for emergency loans within the stipulated timeframe of eight months from the date of the disaster declaration.

Local FSA offices stand ready to provide further assistance and guidance to affected farmers.

The disaster designation signifies a concerted effort by state authorities to mitigate the adverse effects of the drought on Iowa's agricultural sector.

Secretary Vilsack's measures underscore the government's commitment to supporting farmers and safeguarding the state's agricultural interests amid challenging climatic conditions.

For more information and assistance, affected farmers are encouraged to contact their local FSA offices.

Iowa Counties Affected:

Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Cedar, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Clayton, Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Grundy, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Howard, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, Keokuk, Louisa, Linn, Mahaska, Marshall, Mitchell, Muscatine, Poweshiek, Scott, Tama, Washington, Winneshiek, Wright

Contiguous Counties in Adjacent States:

Minnesota: Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower

Wisconsin: Crawford, Grant

counties, disaster, drought