WASHINGTON, September 13, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses in the path of Tropical Storm Nicholas that USDA has programs that provide assistance in the wake of disasters. USDA personnel in all three counties, as well as the state offices are available to assist.
USDA joined FEMA and other disaster-focused organisations to create the Disaster Resource Center . The central information source uses a searchable knowledge database of resources related to disasters, powered by subject-matter experts. You can now find information about disaster assistance and help from USDA through the Disaster Resource Center web site and tool. A disaster aid discovery tool was also created by USDA. It is specifically designed for rural and agricultural problems. This tool guides producers through five questions to generate customized results that help identify which USDA disaster assistance programs might be able to assist them in recovering from natural disasters.
USDA encourages individuals and small-scale businesses to reach out to local USDA offices to discuss their specific needs.
Food safety guidelines:
Severe weather conditions can lead to power outages, which could affect the food safety. USDA encourages those in the path of the storm to take the following precautions:
- Place appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40degF or below in the refrigerator and 0degF or below in the freezer.
- Freeze water in small plastic storage bags or containers prior to a storm. The containers can be placed around food stored in the freezer and refrigerator to keep it cold.
- Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately–this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
- Consider getting 50 pounds of dry or block ice if a lengthy power outage is possible. This amount of ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.
- Keep a small amount of prepared foods in the freezer for a couple days. This helps food stay colder longer.
Keep food together in your freezer to keep it cold for longer.
Owners of meat and poultry producing businesses who have questions or concerns may contact the FSIS Small Plant Help Desk by phone at 1-877-FSIS-HELP (1-877-374-7435), by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 24/7 online at www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/svsp/sphelpdesk.
Protecting pets and livestock:
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is urging everyone in the potential path of the storm to prepare now – not just for yourselves, but also for your pets and your livestock:
- Plan for evacuation – know how you will evacuate and where you will go. You should ensure that your animals have shelter and enough food, water, and other necessities until they can be evacuated.
- Listen to emergency officials and evacuate if asked to do so.
If you plan to relocate livestock from one state to another, contact the State Veterinarian’s Office of the recipient state. For assistance in moving and protecting livestock, you can also contact APHIS Veterinary Services’ state offices.
Risk management and disaster assistance for agricultural operations:
USDA offers several risk management and disaster assistance options to help producers recover after disasters.
Producers who suffer losses and whose crops are covered for the 2021 crop year by the Federal Crop Insurance Program or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) are asked to report crop damage to their crop insurance agent or local FSA office, respectively, within 72 hours of discovering damage and follow up in writing within 15 days. Perennial crop and livestock producers have fewer risk management options, which is why there are many disaster programs. Key programs offered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency include:
- The Livestock Indemnity Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that were killed or severely injured by a natural disaster or loss of feed and grazing acres.
- The Tree Assistance Program provides cost share assistance to rehabilitate or replant orchards and vineyards when storms kill or damage the trees, vines or bushes. NAP, Federal Crop Insurance usually only covers the crop.
- The Emergency Conservation Program and Emergency Forest Restoration Program can assist landowners and forest stewards with financial and technical assistance to restore damaged farmland or forests.
It is also critical that producers keep accurate records to document damage or loss and to report losses to their local USDA Service Center as soon as possible.
Additionally, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service can provide financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. USDA can also assist local government sponsors with the cost of recovery efforts like debris removal and streambank stabilization to address natural resource concerns and hazards through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.
On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet (PDF, 4.6 MB) and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help producers and landowners determine program or loan options. For assistance with a crop insurance claim, producers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent. For FSA and NRCS programs, they should contact their local USDA Service Center.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is also standing by to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well as requesting states and local authorities, to provide emergency nutrition assistance and other nutrition program flexibilities to assist people in need.
USDA has a positive impact on the daily lives of every American in many ways. USDA’s Biden-Harris Administration is working to transform America’s food system by placing a stronger emphasis on resilient regional and local food production and fairer markets for producers. It also works to ensure that all Americans have access to healthy, safe and nutritious food. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
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