USDA's Farm Service Agency on Wednesday released information to assist farmers and ranchers suffering from Hurricane Sandy's wrath, urging them to keep records of all losses. The USDA is also working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist those affected by Hurricane Sandy by deploying staff from USDA Rural Development, Forest Service, Food and Nutrition Service and Natural Resources and Conservation Service.
FSA: Keep Livestock Notes Handy
Farm Service Agency Administrator Juan M. Garcia on Wednesday urged farmers and ranchers affected by Hurricane Sandy to keep thorough records of all losses, including livestock death losses, as well as expenses for such things as feed purchases and extraordinary costs because of lost supplies and or increased transportation costs.
FSA recommends that owners and producers record all pertinent information of natural disaster consequences, including:
• Documentation of the number and kind of livestock that have died, supplemented if possible by photographs or video records of ownership and losses;
• Dates of death supported by birth recordings or purchase receipts;
• Costs of transporting livestock to safer grounds or to move animals to new pastures;
• Feed purchases if supplies or grazing pastures are destroyed.
For companion animals, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has deployed animal care experts to provide pet-liaison services to FEMA in Philadelphia. APHIS Animal Care is coordinating with the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition and the National Alliance of State Animal and Agriculture Emergency Programs who are staging a distribution center at the State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, N.Y., with supplies for companion animals.
Crops and Land
APHIS deployed a plant pest expert to the Massachusetts State Emergency Operations Center to provide information and guidance on Asian Long Horned Beetle quarantines to FEMA's Incident Management Assistance Teams as they plan for debris removal.
FSA recommends that land owners or operators retain:
• Crop records, including seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records;
• Pictures of on-farm storage facilities that were destroyed by wind or flood waters; and
• Evidence of damaged farm land.
Producers with damaged farmland should contact their local FSA office. The Emergency Conservation Program may be able to assist producer who need to repair farmland or remove debris due to Hurricane Sandy. FSA currently has $15.5 million available for producers in counties that received a Major Disaster declaration pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Producers located in counties that have not received a Major Disaster declaration should visit their local FSA office for information on ECP if funding becomes available in the future.
Crops insured by federal crop insurance or by the Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program are covered when floodwaters have rendered them valueless. USDA encourages all farmers and ranchers to contact their crop insurance companies and local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Centers, as applicable, to report damages to crops or livestock loss. More information about federal crop insurance may be found at www.rma.usda.gov.
USDA's Risk Management Agency reminds producers faced with questions on prevented planting, replant, or crop losses to contact their crop insurance agent for more information. Producers who need emergency credit due may receive assistance through the Emergency Loan Program if they need assistance recovering from production and physical losses due to natural disasters. Producers are eligible for these loans as soon as their county is declared a Presidential or Secretarial disaster county.
Rural Development staff is reaching out to all telecommunications, electric and water system borrowers in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy to assess any damages and offer full and immediate assistance where necessary. RD is working with members of the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association to determine how to most effectively meet requests for assistance to help restore power and with the National Rural Water Association (through their state associations) and 38 Circuit Riders funded through an existing USDA contract, to help rural communities assess water system outages and damages.
Rural Development has also updated its list of available housing units suitable for emergency shelter and has provided this information to FEMA.
Food and Nutrition Service & Food Safety
USDA Food and Nutrition Service is offering food assistance to those in need in areas affected by a disaster. At present, affected states are assessing their needs and no formal requests for assistance have been received. However, FNS fully expects to receive requests from affected states as they complete their assessments and determine what response best meets the needs of their citizens. FNS will continue to work closely with the affected states to provide support and technical assistance as needed.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service is monitoring the regulated meat, poultry, and processed egg product industry to ensure FSIS' regulated products are safe for consumers. FSIS has published food safety messages for consumers.
USDA Forest Service wildfire suppression crews and incident management teams are being mobilized and sent to the East Coast to support state and local partners as they respond to Hurricane Sandy. Currently, six incident management teams and eleven wildfire suppression crews, a total of more than 250 personnel, are staged in or en route to New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. in coordination with local emergency managers.
Producers with private forest land that was damaged should also visit their local FSA office for information on the Emergency Forest Restoration Program. EFRP provides assistance to landowners of private forest land to help carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster. Currently no funding is available, however, producers should visit their local FSA office for information if funding becomes available.
Additional resources to help farmers and ranchers handle damage from Hurricane Sandy may be found at www.usda.gov/disaster.
USDA says it will continue working with state and local officials, as well as federal partners, to make sure people have the necessary resources to recover from the storm.