2014 PRESS RELEASES
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February 10, 2014
FARMERS SHOULD PREPARE FARMS NOW FOR UPCOMING WINTER STORM
Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686
The forecast is still a bit of a guess but one thing is certain: preparing your farm now is better than waiting to see which path the storm takes and how much snow and ice it leaves behind. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services urges all farmers to prepare ahead of time for power outages, structural or crop damage, insurance claims and damage that can accompany a strong winter storm.
Long-range preparations can include purchasing or making rental agreements for special equipment, making adjustments to property and reviewing business arrangements. Short-range preparations can focus on immediate concerns such as turning off propane, providing shelter for livestock or equipment and updating phone numbers for emergency assistance.
Equipment needs can include a generator, fuel, a hand fuel pump, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, a camera, blankets, flashlights and batteries, NOAA weather radio and stored water and feed for humans and livestock.
Tobacco farms or nursery operations with greenhouses, dairies, and hog and poultry operations are especially vulnerable if power remains out for a lengthy period; those farmers may want to purchase a generator. Farmers who cannot purchase a generator should consider leasing or negotiating a rental arrangement for a back-up generator in advance.
Property preparations can include checking power lines for clearance and pruning or removing trees that could fall on lines, surveying buildings for limbs or trees close to buildings and pounding in extra nails or tightening straps to prevent wind damage. Other precautions include clearing away all debris that could blow in high winds, securing farm signs and photographing valuable items and storing the pictures online.
Finally, farmers should develop an emergency plan for their families and their farm workers and should establish a meeting place where everyone can gather after a disaster and be sure to assign and prioritize preparation and recovery duties.
Short-range preparations are those things to do once the weather report indicates a problem storm is brewing. These include:
- Monitoring local weather reports for up-to-the-minute information on the storm.
- Charging batteries on cell phones and determining check-in points for family members and workers. A car charger for electronic devices is a good idea if the power goes out.
- Storing or securing items or equipment that may blow away or blow into structures, including lawn furniture and ornaments.
- Checking generators to be sure they are in good working order and purchasing sufficient amounts of fuel to operate them.
- Checking feed inventory and ordering extra if needed.
- Turning off the propane supply at tanks.
- Pumping and storing adequate supplies of drinking water for humans and animals in the case of power outages. VDACS recommends a minimum 36-hour reserve.
- Topping off all gas, propane and other fuel tanks, including the family vehicles.
- Marking animals with an identifier so they can be returned to you in the event of breeched fences and escaped animals. This can include ear tags with name of farm and/or phone numbers, brands, paint markings on hooves or coat, or clipped initials in the hair.
- Moving feed to higher ground or to a more accessible place in case of transportation problems.
- Checking the security of roofing materials, siding and windows and doors in barns and poultry houses to make sure they will not blow off or blow open in strong winds.
- Coordinating with neighbors beforehand to discuss what resources can be shared in the event of power outages or flooding.
- Making a list of important phone numbers in order to make calls following a storm. Potential numbers to include are the local emergency management office, Virginia Cooperative Extension Services personnel, insurance agent, county Farm Service Agency and private veterinarian. For local emergency offices, contact the Virginia Department of Emergency Management ahead of time, or log on to www.vaemergency.gov.
Being prepared for storms and hurricanes could help farmers limit their losses, but preparation needs to begin now, before a problem storm hits.