By Brian Long, NCDA&CS
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler’s annual plea for farmers to prepare for hurricane season is especially poignant this year, considering many are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew.
“Hurricane Matthew is a painfully fresh reminder of just how important it is to have an emergency plan for your farm, food company or agribusiness,” Troxler said. “Take precautions and think through your plan now, and discuss it with your employees and family. Doing this can help no matter what emergency strikes.”
Scientists at NC State University are predicting 11 to 15 named storms in the Atlantic basin this year, numbers in line with the average since 1950. Of those storms, four to six could become hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season typically runs June 1 to November 30, but this year has already seen one tropical storm, Arlene, which made a brief appearance in April.
Planning helps farmers protect their families, workers, equipment and buildings, Troxler said. “Livestock operations should maintain emergency plans that address power needs and on-site feed capabilities,” he said. “Also, identify places to relocate animals from low-lying areas. We saw farmers take those precautions before Matthew, and I believe it played a role in reducing animal losses from the storm.”
Farmers and businesses should review insurance policies to ensure they have proper coverage, including wind, hail, flood, and catastrophic coverage if necessary. Some coverage takes 30 days to go into effect.
The NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has a website, www.ncagr.gov/disaster, with links and resources for different types of agribusinesses to plan and recover from a disaster. A Farm Emergency Plan Template is available on the site to help organize information that is needed after a disaster.