Rain leaves veggie farmers struggling with no aid in sight

  • In this Monday, June 10, 2019 photo, Andrew Dunham harvests Hakurei turnips on his 80-acre organic farm, in Grinnell, Iowa. Like farmers throughout the Midwest, torrential spring rains turned Dunham’s land into sticky muck that wouldn’t let him plant crops this spring. But unlike other farmers, Dunham won’t get a piece of a $16 billion aid package to offset his losses, and he can’t fall back on federally subsidized crop insurance because Dunham grows herbs, flowers and dozens of vegetable varieties but not the region’s dominant crops of corn and soybeans. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • In this Monday, June 10, 2019 photo, Hakurei turnips sit in a field after being harvested on Andrew Dunham’s 80-acre organic farm, in Grinnell, Iowa. Like farmers throughout the Midwest, torrential spring rains turned Dunham’s land into sticky muck that wouldn’t let him plant crops this spring. But unlike other farmers, Dunham won’t get a piece of a $16 billion aid package to offset his losses, and he can’t fall back on federally subsidized crop insurance because Dunham grows herbs, flowers and dozens of vegetable varieties but not the region’s dominant crops of corn and soybeans. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • In this Monday, June 10, 2019 photo, Andrew Dunham harvests Hakurei turnips on his 80-acre organic farm, in Grinnell, Iowa. Like farmers throughout the Midwest, torrential spring rains turned Dunham’s land into sticky muck that wouldn’t let him plant crops this spring. But unlike other farmers, Dunham won’t get a piece of a $16 billion aid package to offset his losses, and he can’t fall back on federally subsidized crop insurance because Dunham grows herbs, flowers and dozens of vegetable varieties but not the region’s dominant crops of corn and soybeans. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Torrential rain this spring prevented most Midwest farmers from planting their crops but while the federal government provides help to growers of corn and soybeans, those who grow specialty crops are largely on their own.

Although the lack of federal safety net programs for farmers who grow everything from arugula to zucchini isn’t new, one of the wettest springs in U.S. history has focused attention on the special status of commodity crops, primarily corn, soybeans, cotton, rice and wheat.

Iowa organic farmer Andrew Dunham shrugs at the situation, noting “there are no federal bailouts for vegetable farmers.”

Iowa State University economist Chad Hart says crops like corn and soybeans are treated differently because they’re so important to the national economy, and shortages would be painful, particularly to the livestock industry.

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