WASHINGTON—After hearing from Iowans whose lives have been devastated by the derecho, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, are calling on the federal government to investigate possible price-gouging and scams. In a letter to the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, the Iowa senators urge the departments to ensure these kinds of fraudulent actions do not further aggravate the suffering of Iowans.
In their letter, the senators write, “In our meetings with Iowans, we have heard concerns about possible price gouging of necessary goods and services, as well as scams targeting victims of the derecho. Iowans, in particular farmers, have told us that they face prohibitive costs in acquiring the materials and equipment to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. The costs for farmers to remove, repair, or replace grain bins alone will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. We will not let scammers and price gougers use this tragedy to raise prices to sky-high levels and thwart Iowans from repairing and rebuilding their homes, businesses and communities.”
They go on to say, “It is imperative that your departments investigate allegations of wrongdoing, fraud and price gouging related to the Iowa derecho, and aggressively go after the individuals who engage in these illegal activities. We urge your departments to do all they can to ensure that these kinds of anti-competitive and fraudulent actions do not further aggravate the suffering of Iowans who were the unfortunate victims of this devastating event.”
Since the derecho swept through Iowa, Ernst and Grassley have been in constant communication with state and local officials to ensure folks are getting the support and relief they need. They joined Iowa leaders to host the President in Iowa to hear about the devastating impact of the storms and the need for federal assistance. Following their meeting, President Trump approved Governor Reynolds’ request for a major disaster declaration.
Earlier this month, Ernst and Grassley held a roundtable with non-profit leaders in Cedar Rapids to hear about their challenges and efforts to help folks during both the derecho recovery and COVID-19 pandemic. Following the senators’ urging, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) Sonny Perdue announced his approval of Governor Reynolds’ request for a Secretarial Disaster Designation for 18 counties, allowing Iowa producers to access USDA disaster programs and Farm Service Agency emergency loans.
The Iowa senators also sent a letter urging the Secretary of Commerce to lift Section 232 tariffs on steel being used in Iowa’s recovery.