What Farmers Need To Know About Disaster Assistance

Dan Alabama, Economy, USDA-FSA


Natural disasters can devastate family farms, wreaking havoc on infrastructure and affecting crops and livestock. An economist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) said the most significant threats come from hurricanes and their aftereffects.

“The nature of their job means that farmers face inherent risks,” said Adam Rabinowitz, who is also an Auburn University assistant professor of agricultural economics. “There are ways to prepare and a number of government programs to aid recovery.”

Rabinowitz offered these suggestions for farmers confronting the aftermath of a disaster.

  • Collect documentation. Before starting any cleanup activity, take time-stamped photographs of damage and losses that have occurred.
  • Notify the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) about losses. This helps FSA prepare a county Loss Assessment Report, vital to a county being designated as an agricultural disaster area.
  • Contact crop insurance agent to report losses or damages. Do this before beginning cleanup activities to ensure proper documentation. Notify the agent within 72 hours of the discovery of a loss. Farmers should also provide a signed written notice of losses and damages to their agent within 15 days of the loss.
  • Producers who have Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance (NAP) or are eligible for other disaster assistance programs should contact the local FSA office. Do this before starting any cleanup activities to ensure everything is documented correctly and a waiver can be issued before cleanup.

More information can be found on the USDA recovery website.

To learn more about farm management, including risk management and disaster assistance, visit the ACES website.