How will I water my livestock if I have no power? If there is a flood, how will I move my animals to higher ground? Where should I go in my field should a tornado occur?
Though these questions may seem simple, without a solid thought-out plan behind them, one might find themselves, and their farm, unprepared for emergencies. Being that 44% of the 2.1 million farms in the United States are found in the south, it is important for these important economic centers to have emergency plans in place. Being prepared involves knowing your risks and developing emergency plans to use during and after these events. By being prepared, you minimize the impact on your family, farm, business, pets, and livestock.
There are a variety of emergencies to consider such as:
Severe Winter Storms
Foreign Animal Diseases
Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases
Emerging Crop Diseases and Pests
Food Safety Recalls
|Bio- and Agro-terrorism
Here in Polk County we are most likely to be affected by extreme heat, cold weather, power outages, flooding, severe thunderstorms, and possibly a tornado. Still, having a comprehensive plan developed that addresses any potential risks is the best way to go.
Preparing your farm for an emergency requires the following:
- Figure out what disasters and/or hazards are most likely to occur in your area.
- Find out how you will be warned of an emergency. Stay alert for emergency broadcasts; listen for NOAA weather radio alerts; and/or check for news on the radio, tv, or internet.
- Put together a Family Emergency Supply Kit. http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
- Draw a farm site map. Include: buildings and structures, access routes, barriers, locations of livestock, locations of all hazardous substances, and electrical shutoff locations.
- Make a list of your farm Inventory: livestock, crops, machinery/equipment, and hazardous substances.
- Keep a list of emergency phone numbers: local and state veterinarian, county extension service, local emergency management, and your insurance agent.
- Make a list of suppliers/businesses providing services for your farm. For example: your livestock or milk transporter, feed delivery service, fuel delivery, etc.
- Contact your insurance agent. Be sure to review your coverage and get additional coverage for “all hazzard” situations (e.g. flood, hail)
- Stockpile supplies needed to protect your farm during an emergency. Such as sandbags, plywood for windows, extra fuel, fire extinguishers, a gas powered generator, safe supply of food for your livestock, hand tools, wire and rope, etc.
- Identify areas to relocate animals if needed. Be sure to take into account all livestock and horses, equipment, feed, grain, hay, and agrochemicals.
- Remove or secure any loose equipment or materials.
- Prepare your farm employees. Be sure all employees are aware or the farm emergency plan as well as the know the location of shelter-in-place and evacuation sites. Be sure to keep a record with the contact information for all employees.
Plans should also be established specifically for livestock, which would include keeping an up-to-date inventory of all animals, their location, records of ownership, immunization and testing records, as well as planing safe evacuation routes, alternative shelter, and emergency stores of food, water, medicine, and other necessary supplies.
This serves as an introduction to emergency preparedness on a farm. For more information here is a list of resources to utilize while developing your farm emergency plan: