2020: A Year of Crisis and Hope

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I look out my window in Eastern Iowa and see uprooted oak trees that once stood as guardians of our neighborhood. A displaced street light pole threatens my dining room window, and my backyard has an extra trampoline – blown over from the neighbor’s yard 200 feet away. I can spot acres of flattened corn and houses with gaping holes in their rooftops, protected from the elements with blue tarps.

These views are remnants of the August 10, 2020, derecho storm, a rare “inland hurricane” that slammed the Midwest with winds up to 100 miles per hour. As the derecho covered an 800-mile stretch, it gained power, plowed through farm fields and busted open grain bins filled with last year’s harvest.

For farmers who had crops in the field and bushels in the bin, this storm was a sucker punch in an already painful pandemic year. USDA estimates 10 million acres – about one-third of the state’s crops – were damaged in the intense squall last week. Over 600,000 people lost electric power.

2020 seems to be the year that just keeps giving…not in a good way.

Stress in farm country.

Many of my farmer friends were already tired, frustrated and showing signs of melancholy. Years of low crop prices, a massive trade war and fears brought by COVID-19 all weigh heavy. The derecho just added insult to injury.

A full assessment of damage to Midwest crops may take weeks. Crop insurance will offset some losses, as will a USDA indemnity program. Federal disaster aid may be coming. Private insurance will repair homes and buildings.

Hawkeye country is not the only area to suffer weather disaster in recent years. K·Coe Isom clients run coast to coast, and we have helped communities through floods, traumatic wildfires, droughts and hurricanes. The beauty of being a nationwide firm is having many experts, in one place or another, who have seen it all. K·Coe Isom offers resources that can ease the burden of agricultural producers hit by natural disasters, and we provide guidance on:

Here are links to crisis support articles that can provide some answers:

Raise the white flag. Lastly, I have a request of all the farm families living in disaster situations: if you are dealing with feelings of anxiety or depression that you can’t manage, or if you are concerned for the life of a loved one or friend, visit Ag Health & Safety Alliance (www.aghealthandsafety.com), which supports families in stressful times.

In addition, our K·Coe Isom consultants and advisors are a constant resource for financial and management advice, as well as general support. We have operated as an advisory firm for over 85 years, and have seen businesses through the good and the bad.

2020 will go down as a crazy year full of pandemics and oddities like an “inland hurricane” in Iowa. It is all illogical and unthinkable, and none of it we can control.

Yet we can control our reaction to what is happening. If anyone can get through tough times, it is people in our food and agriculture community. This community is built on hope; hope that a seed planted in the spring will grow to be harvested in the fall, and that Mother Nature will provide for the land, and that markets will react to supply and demand. Hope is what we thrive on, and hope is a foundation of resilience.

So here’s hoping that our communities become better and stronger through 2020.

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