Contributed by USDA Office of Communications


The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the availability of assistance for agricultural producers in the Midwest affected by the recent severe weather to help eligible farmers and ranchers reestablish their operations.


"Our agricultural producers provide Americans and consumers around the world with such abundance, it’s critical that we stand with them when confronting disasters like the derecho that has devastated so many in America’s heartland," said Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation.


Helping producers weather financial impacts of disasters:


Livestock owners and contract growers who experience above normal livestock deaths due to specific weather events, as well as to disease or animal attacks, may qualify for assistance under USDA’s Livestock Indemnity Program. The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program provides payments to eligible producers to help compensate for losses due to disease (including cattle tick fever), and adverse weather or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires, that are not covered by certain other disaster programs. Producers of non-insurable crops who suffer crop losses, lower yields or are prevented from planting agricultural commodities may be eligible for assistance under USDA’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program if the losses were due to natural disasters.


Helping operations recover after disasters:


USDA also can provide financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. Assistance may also be available for emergency animal morality disposal from natural disasters and other causes. USDA’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program also can help relieve imminent threats to life and property caused by flood, fires and other natural disasters that impair a watershed. Orchardists and nursery tree growers may be eligible for assistance through USDA’s Tree Assistance Program to help replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.


Producers with coverage through the Risk Management Agency (RMA) administered Federal Crop Insurance Program should contact their crop insurance agent for issues regarding filing claims. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses. Producers should report crop damage within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days. The Approved Insurance Providers (AIP), loss adjusters and agents are experienced and well-trained in handling these types of events. As part of its commitment to customer service, RMA is working closely with AIPs that sell and service crop insurance policies to ensure enough loss adjusters will be available to process claims in the affected areas as quickly as possible. Please visit the RMA website, www.rma.usda.gov, for additional details.


When major disasters strike, USDA has an emergency loan program that provides eligible farmers low-interest loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. USDA’s emergency loan program is triggered when a natural disaster is designated by the Secretary of Agriculture or a natural disaster or emergency is declared by the President under the Stafford Act. USDA also offers additional programs tailored to the needs of specific agricultural sectors to help producers weather the financial impacts of major disasters and rebuild their operations.


USDA encourages those who suffered power outages to take steps to protect the safety of their food.


Tips to protect food safety after the power goes out:


• Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed


as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep


food cold for about four hours if the door


is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its


temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).


• Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross contamination of thawing juices.


• Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.


Steps to follow after a weather emergency:


• Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable


food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or


leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two


hours or more.


• Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.


• Check frozen food for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below.


• Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.


• When in doubt, throw it out.