WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reminding communities, farmers, ranchers and small businesses in the path of Hurricane Zeta that USDA has programs that provide assistance in the wake of disasters. USDA staff in the regional, state and county offices stand ready and are eager to help.
“Our neighbors in the Gulf have endured a devastating Hurricane season this year, and I’ve been awed by their resilience,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We ask everyone in the path of the storm to again prepare, and to rest assure that this Administration will stand by them to provide all the assistance we can, for as long as they need.”
USDA has partnered with FEMA and other disaster-focused organizations to create the Disaster Resource Center, a searchable knowledgebase of disaster-related resources powered by subject matter experts. The Disaster Resource Center website and web tool now provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance.
Food Safety During an Emergency
Power outages from severe weather could compromise the safety of stored food. USDA encourages those in the path of the storm to take the following precautions:
Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
Place appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40°F or below in the refrigerator, 0°F or below in the freezer.
Freeze water in small plastic storage bags or containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold.
Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately — this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
Consider getting 50 pounds of dry or block ice if a lengthy power outage is possible. This amount of ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days Group foods together in the freezer – this ‘igloo’ effect helps the food stay cold longer.
Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.
Protecting Livestock During a Disaster
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is urging everyone in the potential path of the hurricane to prepare now – not just for yourselves, but also for your pets and your livestock.
- Plan for evacuation – know how you will evacuate and where you will go. If it is not feasible to evacuate your livestock, be sure to provide a strong shelter and adequate food and water that will last them until you can return.
- If you are planning to move livestock out of state, make sure to contact the State Veterinarian’s Office in the receiving state before you move any animals. You may also contact the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services state offices for information and assistance about protecting and moving livestock.
- Listen to emergency officials and evacuate if asked to do so.
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. Livestock, honeybee and farm-raised fish producers whose mechanically harvested or purchased livestock feed was physically damaged or destroyed; or who lost grazing acres or beehives due to an extreme weather event may qualify for assistance. 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.