UPDATE: Farmers, Stay Ahead of Winter Storms


Winter-Bales-4d5f95c15b0a4_hiresWith much of the south expecting moderate to heavy snow and ice this weekend, make sure you and your farm is prepared for the worst, should it happen. Please note:  this information is updated for programs current to January 2016.

Before the Storm

Before the storm, be sure you and your family are prepared for events such as extended power outages and no phone service. Be sure your emergency kit includes:

  • Batteries
  • Flashlight
  • Camera
  • First-aid kit
  • Medications
  • Fire extinguisher
  • NOAA Weather Radio
  • Non-perishable food for family and pets

Secure property by moving equipment into storage facilities or onto high ground and take pictures of property before the storm for insurance purposes.

After the Storm

Before worrying about the farm, make sure that you and your family are safe. If you are in any immediate danger, call 911. Once your family is safe, recovery can begin. Because RAFI focuses on long-term recovery, those needing immediate assistance should visit the links below.

Documenting Damage after a Disaster

After a disaster, remember this rule: camera first, chainsaw second. Disaster programs will only assist with documented damage and insurance companies will need to survey the damage as part of a claims process. Don’t start the cleanup process until everything is documented.

Disaster Program Funding

Once you’ve documented any damage, it’s time to think about programs that aid in the recovery. If you have crop insurance, you’ll want to call your agent about any crop losses. If you’re enrolled in the Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), you’ll want to call your FSA office.

If you already have a loan through FSA, consider these options to help you in the event of a disaster:

  • Emergency Loan Program (ELP), which requires proof of loss of either product or physical components of your operation;
  • Disaster Set-Aside for your current loan, which pushes your payment due date back — but keep in mind that your final payment will be considerably larger than others;
  • Primary Loan Servicing, including restructuring and deferment; and
  • Conservation Contracts, also known as “debt for nature”, which reduce your debt based on the acreage you put into conservation and the length of the contract.

If you don’t have insurance on your crops or livestock, there are still programs that could help you recover losses.

The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) helps farms pay for repairs after a natural disaster, such as debris removal and restoring fences. Farmers are able to receive up to 75 percent of the cost associated with emergency conservation practices and FSA County Committees make funding determinations for amounts up to $50,000. Applications for more than $50,000 require state or federal approval. To maintain eligibility, funding applications should be submitted and approved before beginning ECP associated repairs. If you have other questions about sign-up periods or program eligibility, contact your local FSA office. The Emergency Forestry Restoration Program also provides compensation for forestry losses.

The 2014 Farm Bill restored funding for some disaster programs, including:

  • The Livestock Forage Program (LFP), which provides payment to livestock producers who sustain grazing losses due to drought or fire;
  • The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), which provides payment to livestock producers who suffer livestock death in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather and attacks by reintroduced animals;
  • The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), which provides emergency relief to producers of livestock, honey bees, and farm-raised fish for losses resulting from adverse weather conditions; and
  • The Tree Assistance Program (TAP), which provides payment to orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.

The 2014 Farm Bill removed the requirement that farmers obtain a Risk Management Agency policy or NAP coverage for all crops as an eligibility requirement for LFP, ELAP, or TAP payments. Additionally, an applicant’s adjusted gross income (AGI) cannot exceed $900,000 for the benefit year and distinctions between farm and non-farm income have been removed. Therefore, if your county is declared a disaster and you fall within the income requirements, your farm could be eligible for financial assistance through these programs. The total payment made to any farmer cannot exceed $125,000 in any crop year for LIP, LFP, ELAP, or TAP.

Farmers are encouraged to discuss additional eligibility requirements and program specific application requirements with their local FSA agent. You can learn about disaster designations for your county through USDA.


About James Robinson

James manages RAFI’s risk management and fracking policy research. James’ risk management research was presented at the Agriculture and Applied Economics Crop Insurance & Farm Bill Symposium in both 2013 and 2014. James currently serves as co-chair of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's Farming Opportunities and Fair Competition Committee. Prior to working at RAFI, James was a Graduate Intern for the Florida Senate Committee on Agriculture and a Research Assistant for the Fiscal Research Division of the North Carolina General Assembly. James holds a BA in Political Science from LaGrange College and a MS in Political Science from Florida State University.