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February 10, 2014

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:

Being prepared for storms and hurricanes could help farmers limit their losses, but preparation needs to begin now, before a problem storm hits.

VDACS posts all of its news releases on Facebook and Twitter. To receive immediate updates, follow us on Twitter @VaAgriculture or like us on

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