Nikki Fried Shares USDA’s Tips for Florida Farmers Readying for Hurricane Ian

As Hurricane Ian approaches, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried shared reminders from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with Florida producers to prepare for and as they recover from any potential impact from the storm.

Take precautions to prepare and protect your family and agricultural operation.

1. Develop an Emergency Plan – Ensure your household and employees know your hurricane plan, including meeting points, emergency contact lists, and alternate evacuation routes in case infrastructure is damaged.

2. Remove Debris and Secure Large Objects – Clean out culverts, ditches, and other drainage areas, especially before and during peak hurricane season to reduce water damage. Most injuries to animals, people, or structures during a hurricane are caused by flying objects. To lessen the risk, minimize the presence of equipment, supplies, and debris that may become airborne during high winds or encountered in floodwaters.

3. Secure Important Records and Documents- Pre- and post-hurricane documentation is extremely important for insurance compensation and recovery assistance. You’ll want to have thorough records of damages and losses sustained on your farm as well as documentation of your cleanup and recovery efforts.

It is critical to document inventory of farm buildings, vehicles, equipment, and livestock before a disaster occurs. Take photos, videos, or make written lists with descriptions. Keep copies of this inventory in multiple places: computer, off-site in a safe location, and on a cloud-based server where information is transmitted and saved weekly.

4. Know Your Insurance Options- Regularly review your insurance policies with your agent to be sure you have adequate coverage, including flood insurance, for your facilities, vehicles, farm buildings, crops and livestock. Note, there are limitations on how soon insurance coverage will take effect. Generally, insurance policies will not cover damage if the policy was not in place before a disaster.

5. Gather Supplies – Have drinking water, canned food, a generator, batteries, a flashlight, and fuel available in case you lose power. For widespread outages, credit and debit cards may not work, so have cash handy.

6. Access Real-time Emergency Information- Download the FEMA app for free on the App Store and Google Play for safety tips on what to do before, during, and after disasters. Subscribe to our text message and email service to receive real-time, local operational and recovery information from the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency.

On farmers.gov, the Hurricane Webpage, Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help producers and landowners determine program or loan options. For assistance with a crop insurance claim, producers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent. For FSA and NRCS programs, they should contact their local USDA Service Center.

Kevin Derby
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