Troxler advises farmers to prepare for hurricane season
As another hurricane season nears, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler reminds farmers that basic emergency planning can go a long way in lessening a crisis situation.
“Thinking through your emergency plan can help whether a hurricane, tornado or other emergency strikes,” Troxler said. “I hope all farmers will review their plans and get ready for hurricane season. A produce operation has very different needs than a dairy farm. Determining what your most pressing needs will be if you should lose power, or are at risk for flooding, can be the difference in salvaging a crop or saving livestock.”
To help farmers think through the myriad issues on a farm, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the N.C. Agromedicine Institute created a Farm Emergency Plan Template. It can be found at www.ncagr.gov/disaster.
As disasters go, hurricanes are generally the easiest to prepare for because of the advance warning given. There are several things farmers can do now to prepare their property for a hurricane:
•Generator: Consider purchasing, leasing or negotiating a rental arrangement for a backup generator in advance. If you plan to rent a generator, read the contract carefully, as some rental contracts are only for 8 hours use per day. Is it cheaper to rent or buy?
•Have a transfer switch properly installed so you can use a generator. This is critical for the protection of farm facilities and utility workers.
•Fuel for vehicles and generators, and a hand fuel pump.
•Emergency Preparedness Kit: Fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, a camera that stamps date and time, flashlights, batteries and other items.
•NOAA weather radio and batteries.
•Water and feed for animals.
•Clear debris from drainage ditches so water can run freely.
•Check power line clearance; some of the greatest damage is from downed power lines and long power outages. See if trees need pruning or removing.
•Survey your buildings; do you need to trim or cut down trees near barns or home? Check for damaged trees and consider removal before a storm. Also check the condition of the buildings; a few extra nails or tighter hurricane strapping can limit further damage.
•Clear away all debris that could blow around in high winds.
•Secure any signage.
•Take photos of valuable items and store off site; store all business records above flood level.
Reviewing Your Business
•Review your insurance policies. Be sure you have adequate coverage for homeowners, vehicles, farm buildings and structures, crops and flood. Learn the different types of wind, hail, and catastrophic insurance coverages.
•Develop an emergency plan for your family and your crew. Be sure everyone knows where to meet, and preparation and recovery duties are prioritized and assigned.
•Review your debt level and finances. Do you have unpaid debts that would go unpaid if you lost 50 percent of your crop in one year? Do you have a cash reserve you could use to replace a loss of income?
Troxler also advises other agribusinesses, such as food manufacturers, pesticide dealers and timber owners, to take the time now to review their disaster plans. For more information, go to www.ncagr.gov/disaster.