Farmer Assistance When Natural Disasters Occur
Farmers need to be as prepared as possible both before and after natural disaster hits. If you are a farmer and find yourself needing assistance after a natural disaster, you should check out some of the resources listed on this page. Also, check out the additional tips and resources that South Carolina’s Lowcountry Local First shared with us a few years ago. Stay safe everyone!
The two organizations that Farm Aid works with on disaster recovery are Farmers Legal Action Group (FLAG) and RAFI-USA.
Farm Aid also has a Farmer Resource Network Online Directory that you can search for additional help by state and type of help needed. https://www.farmaid.org/our-work/resources-for-farmers/farmer-resource-network/
Farmers.gov - Discover Disaster Assistance Programs
Did you recently suffer loss or damage due to a natural disaster? Learn about USDA disaster assistance programs that might be right for you by completing five simple steps.
Farmers Legal Action Group
FLAG has this guide that goes through different help that's available for different types of disaster loss: http://www.flaginc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/DISASTER-What-Help-Is-Available-for-What-Types-of-Disaster-Losses-10-29-2013.pdf
This is FLAG's longer Farmers' Guide to Disaster Assistance: http://www.flaginc.org/publication/farmers-guide-to-disaster-assistance-sixth-edition/ You can download individual chapters by clicking on links in the lefthand column.
This guide covers emergency assistance for livestock, honeybees, and farm-raised fish: http://www.flaginc.org/publication/emergency-assistance-for-livestock-honeybees-and-farm-raised-fish-program/
This is info on Farmer Eligibility for Disaster Unemployment: http://www.flaginc.org/publication/farmer-eligibility-disaster-unemployment-assistance/
The Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation
A flood fund has been established to help cattle ranchers who have been affected by on-going statewide flooding in Oklahoma. One hundred percent of donations will be distributed to ranchers who have been affected by the floods. Make checks payable to Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation, with "Flood Relief" in the memo line and send to P.O. Box 82395, Oklahoma City, OK 73148. To donate online, visit www.okcattlemen.org.
RAFI created a pdf explaining how to document disaster losses, which is necessary for accessing federal assistance.
USDA / Farm Service Agency
The following links contain tables that summarize the federal programs.
Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) disaster assistance fact sheet
Disaster Assistance for Delayed Planting
USDA provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters. Learn more at: https://ofrf.org/news/help-delayed-planting
General Information and Resources
Make sure it is safe by checking the weather/alerts, look for downed power lines, keep an eye on trees in soft ground, look out for exposed manhole covers and sink holes and watch out for dangerous displaced animals (snakes, fire ants, etc.) Assess the damage, take pictures, take notes and document everything. This includes conversations with anyone doing assessment, claims, etc. Here is a good document on this process.
Aid and Insurance
The agencies that can provide support will vary based on the ownership and structure of your business and property. There is a distinction between a business and a farm business as well as farm property and private property.
General Disaster relief agencies (non-farm):
http://www.fema.gov/ (If your state or county is not listed it can really change what aid is available.)
There have been a lot of questions about food safety in regards to flooding. Regardless of existing and pending regulations and mandates, it will likely be up to each of you in your own operations to document, evaluate and determine the risks and decide if you want a third party food safety inspector to inspect your property or test soils/plants. There is a difference between a heavy rain event and flooding, so it is important for you to understand the risks associated with each. Please read more about this in a post from Carolina Farm Stewardship Association: https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/expert-tip-how-to-handle-flooded-fields/ as well as here https://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/factsheets/Flooded_Produce_FAQ.pdf
Recovery and Repair
As soon as it is safe to get back outside and get to work on the repairs, it is important to continue to beware of the risks and best practices. Here is a great online handbook created by Alabama Cooperative Extension System that covers everything from safe drinking water to mold; salvaging clothing to flooded farm equipment: https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/disaster-home-family/emergency-handbook-preparation-and-recovery/
If you do not already, we encourage you to have a disaster protocol in place for your farm based on likely weather events in your area. This would include priority tasks for prep and who is responsible for what (this includes things like securing equipment, shutting off wells, digging emergency ditches, evacuating animals and taking pictures before the disaster hits) as well as information on the nearest shelters and hospitals.
Louisiana offers an emergency preparedness guide for families. http://www.getagameplan.org/
If you are aware of other resources or management plans available to farmers who have experienced loss due to disaster, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.