Obama denies Iowa disaster declaration

Four counties dealing most with avian flu outbreak not able to receive extra federal assistance.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

July 9, 2015

1 Min Read
Obama denies Iowa disaster declaration

The Obama Administration denied a major disaster event declaration request from Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad in response to the avian flu outbreak in Iowa. Over 33 million birds in Iowa have been affected by the deadly virus. The request was made for Buena Vista, Sioux, Webster and Wright counties.

Branstad had requested unemployment assistance, crisis counseling, disaster case management and disaster legal services for those who lost employment and income as a result of the high pathogenic avian influenza outbreak in the hardest hit counties. The disaster request also called the Federal Highway Administration to issue a tonnage waive on the state’s federal aid roadways, such as Interstates 29 and 35. This waiver would have accelerated the disposal process and reduced the likelihood of spreading HPAI while transporting poultry to disposal sites.

“Granting a disaster declaration would have made several forms of federal assistance available to these producers. Iowa has suffered great losses from this catastrophic outbreak, and I’m very disappointed that a disaster declaration wasn’t granted to help deal with the impact,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa).

Craig Fugate, administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said in a letter to Branstad that based on its review “it has been determined that the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, voluntary agencies and the other responding federal agencies.”

The denial may be appealed within 30 days from July 7 when Fugate sent the letter.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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