As I write this article, we just finished the holiday season. From Thanksgiving to New Years, it seems like every year gets busier with kids out of school, the year-end parties, family in town. Once it’s over, most of us can only think about recuperation. The last thing we are concerned with is spring flooding preparation. However, the mild winter seasons we have had the past couple of years have yielded not snow, but rain, which led to massive flooding right before the spring planting and calving season.
Several crop farmers in our area this past year were late getting their crops in because the weather wouldn’t allow them to either harvest the winter crop or prepare for the spring crop. And once the fields were planted, many were flooded out just as the crops started to emerge.
Livestock farmers living along local creeks and rivers lost fences and cattle when waters rose with unprecedented rainfall amounts in very short periods of time. Regardless of the situation they found themselves in, many farmers had unexpected expenses related to flooding.
Many who did not have insurance or were unable to replace the crop had to apply for additional loans or delve into savings, putting a further cash flow crunch on their farms.
Some farmers, however, were able to apply for disaster assistance programs through the government to help cover the expenses of the floods. Natural disaster programs such as the Livestock Indemnity Program and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish provided emergency assistance to producers with losses due to adverse weather.
The Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program provided assistance to crop producers without access to federal crop insurance. These programs are available through your local Farm Service Agency office. They also provide an emergency loan program for producers to help in recovery, and for those with direct FSA loans, they provide the disaster set-aside program which moves a year’s payment to the end of the loan.
They say hindsight is 20/20 and it is true. There are many things we look back on and wish we had done differently in order to save or salvage our livelihoods. The same is true that we learn from our past judgments and can always make changes in the future. The Emergency Conservation Program provided by FSA can help producers who need conservation practices implemented on their farms because of a natural disaster. The Natural Resources Conservation Services has multiple programs available for any producers to help implement conservation practices that can decrease the affect flooding has on property.
We have the resources and technology available to us to help in times of disaster, but it is up to the individual producer to choose to implement those into their farming practices and planning. Every farm is different, and every producers has a different approach to their farming goals. Let us use the resources, technology and knowledge now available to us to plan and prepare for times of natural disaster so that we can remain in and pass on this great industry of agriculture.
Jessica Allan is an agricultural lender at Hometown Bank in Neosho, Mo. A resident of Jasper County, she also is involved in raising cattle on her family’s farm in Newton County, Mo., and is an active alumni of the Crowder College Aggie Club.