Four of the nation’s leading cooperatives serving agriculture and communities across rural America today announced they are partnering to support the American Red Cross in the wake of the derecho that ravaged Iowa, Illinois, and other Midwestern states in early August. CHS, CoBank, Farm Credit Services of America, and Land O’Lakes, Inc. will together donate $200,000 to aid relief efforts in the impacted region.
The derecho, a rare and severe inland storm, hit the Midwest August 10 with winds equivalent to a category 4 hurricane. The 14-hour storm damaged property and crops across 800 miles: from North and South Dakota to Ohio. Though the damage was widespread, Iowa saw the most significant effects, including wide-scale utility disruptions, destruction of residential and commercial property, and severe damage to more than 10 million acres of crops. Damage to trailers, silos, and other equipment used for grain transportation and storage has added concerns about handling the 2020 harvest from remaining crops.
The American Red Cross has been providing food, water, shelter and other relief services since the storm hit. In Iowa and Illinois, the organization has provided more than 50,000 meals, distributed nearly 20,000 relief items and provided more than 1,900 overnight stays in hotels or congregate shelters. Red Cross volunteers and disaster workers continue to provide aid and comfort to those unable to return to their homes due to damage and ongoing power outages.
“The devastation in Iowa following the derecho is tragic and unprecedented. After the storm hit, Red Cross volunteers were on the ground to assist those who were affected. We couldn’t do what we do to help communities recover without the support we receive from organizations such as CHS, Land O’Lakes, Farm Services of America, and CoBank. The recovery process in so many communities is going to be extensive. This generous gift allows us to deliver help and hope to families and individuals who are picking up the pieces and determining how to move forward,” said Jill S. Orton, regional chief executive officer, Nebraska Iowa Region, American Red Cross.
“The impact of this devastating storm on local cooperatives, farmers and rural America in an already challenging year won’t be fully known for a while, but we know it will be significant,” said Jay Debertin, president and CEO of CHS. “Farmers and communities in rural America are resilient. The cooperative spirit living in these communities will help as they rebuild their businesses, their homes and their lives.”
“Rural communities across the nation have been affected by unprecedented challenges this year due to the effects of Covid-19,” said Thomas Halverson, CoBank’s president and CEO. “Now, America’s heartland has been hit with a significant natural disaster that could not have come at a more difficult time. Our hearts go out to those whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted. Our organizations hope that this joint contribution will help to ease the most immediate suffering and assist our customers, members, partners and their communities as they begin the journey to recovery.”
“The derecho has been devastating not only for ag producers, but also for the families, friends and neighbors in their communities. We continue to work with producers to address the financial needs of their agricultural operations, said Mark Jensen, president and CEO, Farm Credit Services of America. “By joining with other cooperatives to support the important work of the American Red Cross, Farm Credit Services of America hopes to broaden our reach to address the needs of entire communities in these challenging times.”
“As a nearly 100-year-old, farmer-owned cooperative, we know that we do better when we look after our neighbors and work together to help when things like the Midwest derecho storm hit. We’re proud to join other national cooperatives to do our part in supporting the vibrant, rural communities that continue to feed our country,” says Beth Ford, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc.