Before a disaster at your farm happens, you’ll want to make sure that you have everything you need in place to quickly report a loss or damage and apply for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs that may assist in recovery. For all farmers, the following are good things to do before a disaster hits:
—Visit or contact your local FSA office.
At the very least, make sure you have the local office’s contact information. Ideally, go into the FSA office to introduce yourself and meet the staff there.
—Have a farm number.
All FSA disaster assistance programs will require you to have a farm number to apply. Not sure what that is or how to get one? See our blog post about how and why to get a farm number here.
—Submit a map of your farm/crops to the FSA office.
If the FSA office has a copy of your crops, it will make it easier for them to check on damage and certify it for payments from FSA programs.
—Learn about all FSA programs available to you in case of an emergency.
Determine which program(s) you may be eligible for based on what you produce, and what the associated deadlines would be after an emergency or disaster occurs(for example, how many days you have to report a loss after a hurricane). Ask questions and get clarification from FSA or from RAFI-USA before a disaster happens.
—Keep documents organized and on hand — make digital copies, if you don’t have them already. This includes grower agreements, land leases, harvest records, etc.
Having physical and digital copies of these documents will make it easier to submit everything needed for emergency funding or loan applications. Making a digital copy ensures that you will always have it, even if your home experiences a disaster as well (flooding, fire, etc.).
— Keep consistent, clear records of your harvest.
Having records of what you grow and how much you sell each year ensures that you can apply for the correct programs and receive the correct amount in payments.
— For farmers producing specialty or other non-insurable crops, consider applying for NAP for additional disaster preparedness coverage.
Request the calendar of NAP cut off dates from your local FSA office.
Make sure you apply for NAP coverage in time. Application deadlines vary by crop and by state.
Make sure you are submitting all additional required documentation to your local FSA office by NAP program deadlines (for example, reporting crop acreage after planting).