Farmers: If you need to speak with someone immediately, please call us with any questions at 919-542-1396 and press #1 for the Farmer Hotline or reach the hotline directly toll-free at 866-586-6746. The hotline is open Monday-Friday from 9am to 6pm.
Before worrying about the farm, make sure that you and your family are safe and taken care of. If you are in any immediate danger, call 911. Once your family is safe, recovery can begin. RAFI focuses on long-term recovery. For more immediate help, visit the links below.
After a Disaster
- Navigating Disaster Assistance for Farmers – summary of issues and programs prepared for Farm Aid by the Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG) and RAFI-USA
- Helpful Advice for Helpers After a Disaster
Documenting Disaster Losses
After a disaster, remember this rule: camera first, chainsaw second.
Disaster programs will only assist with documented damage. Disaster assistance programs often take place years after the disaster, so you should document losses even if programs are not immediately available.
Federal programs sometimes pay for unexpected expenses. For instance, the Emergency Conservation Program can cover your use of chain saws and front-end loaders in recovery efforts, but only if it is pre-authorized and well-documented.
The first step is to check in with your local FSA office to talk through possible programs.
Learn more in this “Documenting Disaster Losses” document prepared by RAFI-USA
Government Assistance for Farmers after a Disaster
- Check to see if your county has been declared or designated a disaster. Many government programs only provide assistance after federally declared or designated disasters. Check the FEMA website to find out if your area qualifies.
- Different agencies provide assistance for different types of damage.
Damage to Households
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides assistance for damage to homes and households.
- The Small Business Administration provides disaster loans for repairing homes or businesses, or repair or replacement of household possessions or business inventory following a disaster.
- Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available for individuals, including farmers, who are prevented from working because of a disaster, and is available through your state Employment Security Commission. Learn more in this FEMA Disaster Unemployment Assistance Factsheet.
- The IRS has information on the tax implications of disasters. Learn more on the IRS Disaster Assistance page.
Damage to Farms
- USDA Farm Services Agency (FSA) Disaster Programs and Programs at a Glance (PDFs)
- View all USDA press releases for additional information and updates Disaster Assistance Deadlines
- Risk Management Agency: Information on crop insurance. Most federal farm disaster assistance programs require prior participation in RMA crop insurance programs or non-insured crop disaster assistance programs.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency: Applying for Assistance: assistance with housing, unemployment, and counseling.
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension Disaster Information Center: fact sheets on dealing with daily needs, stress and financial recovery for your family and farm, and food safety preparedness.
- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hurricane Resources
- USDA Rural Development Agency Disaster Programs
- Floods and Organic Producers: A summary of some of the issues that organic producers may face during a natural disaster – and in particular with a flood.
- Hurricane Preparedness for Producers of Horticultural Crops including for high tunnels.
- RAFI’s Disaster Program Information
Information for Poultry and Livestock Growers
- Info for Poultry Growers: Learn what to do if you lose birds, including documentation, reporting losses, and options for disposing of carcasses.
- North Carolina Guidance for Composting of Mass Animal Mortality (October 2016) and NCDA & CS Mass Animal Mortality Management Plan for Catastrophic Natural Disasters (October 2016, for hog and poultry operations)
- Disaster Recovery for Pasture-Based Livestock by Dr. Matt Poore of NCSU Department of Animal Science and NC Cooperative Extension
- Mass Poultry Mortality Disposal Options for Farmers
Additional Resources for Disaster Recovery
- The Farmer’s Legal Action Group provides information on a variety of disaster-related topics, including Disaster Readiness and Recovery: Legal Considerations for Organic Farmers.
- Farm Aid connects farmers to direct services, including financial counseling, technical assistance, legal advice and more.
- NCAT ATTRA National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service has extensive links to resources.
- Information about asbestos exposure during natural disasters and health impacts
RAFI-USA Disaster Recovery Resource Videos
RAFI-USA developed a series of videos about how to prepare for, deal with, and recover from a disaster. They are most relevant to farmers, but lessons can be applied to others as well. Watch all four videos (including an introduction to the series, “Documenting Disasters,” “Distribution of Labor during a Disaster,” and “Working with Farmers in Disaster Recovery”) here.
The USDA has initiated fast-track disaster designations for counties suffering in the 2012 drought based on the US Drought Monitor. Counties that have been designated by the Drought Monitor as suffering from Severe Drought for 8 consecutive weeks will be designated as a disaster automatically, rather than having to apply for disaster designation. Click here to see the current USDA disaster designations.
The US Drought Monitor provides a map of current drought conditions across the country, updated every Tuesday.
The USDA has a website that contains information on all of USDA’s disaster assistance programs and updates.
Disaster Assistance web site for all damage, not just agriculture: disasterassistance.gov
- Flood Inundation Mapping and Alert Network (FIMAN) –map of current water elevation levels showing where the water is still high or where there is still a risk of flooding
- USGS WaterWatch – WaterWatch Streamflow Map showing current conditions
RAFI-USA Farm Advocate Program
If you are a farmer facing a financial emergency, RAFI’s farm advocate program may offer help finding the best solutions for you and your family through in-depth confidential advice and advocacy to lenders. We do not provide direct financial relief. For information, call Tyler Whitley at (919) 542-1396 x2220.
- Cleaning Up After Hurricane Florence: Information for Contract Poultry and Livestock Producers in North Carolina (10.8.18)
- Hurricane Florence: Mass Poultry Mortality Disposal Options for Farmers (10.2.18)
- Hurricane Florence: Prepare your Farm and Stay Safe (9.11.18)
- Disaster Recovery Resources (9.13.17)
- Disaster Assistance Deadlines (8.27.17)
- Resource Recap: Hurricane Matthew Disaster Assistance (10.19.16)
- USDA Approves Emergency Food Benefits for Hurricane Victims (10.18.16)
- Farmer Guide: Floods and Organic Producers (10.17.16)
- Farmers Eligible for Hurricane Matthew Disaster Unemployment Assistance (10.14.16)
- Cleaning Up After Hurricane Matthew: Info for Poultry Growers (10.14.16)
- Help After Hurricane Matthew: Disaster Relief for Farmers & Livestock Producers (10.12.16)
- Hurricane Matthew: Disaster Assistance for Farms (10.6.16)
- #TBT: As Storm Season Begins, Looking Back at Hurricane Floyd (6.4.15)
- Farm Advocacy & Dealing with Disasters Workshops at PASA (2.1.13)
- Guide: Mass Poultry Mortality Disposal Options for North Carolina Growers (12.17.12)
- Hurricane Irene damage in Eastern NC (9.1.11)
- Tornado Recovery: Resources for Farms (4.20.11)