To help residents, farmers, and ranchers affected by the devastation caused by recent flooding, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to aid people in their recovery efforts. USDA staff in the regional, state, and county offices are responding and providing a variety of program flexibilities and other assistance to residents, agricultural producers, and impacted communities at large.
“Recent flooding in the Midwest and along the Missouri and Mississippi River Valleys has caused devastating impacts across the region, and USDA has personnel and resources devoted to helping farmers and communities recover after this storm,” Secretary Perdue said. “I encourage area farmers and ranchers to contact their local USDA Service Center so we can work with them to identify the resources and tools needed to reestablish their operations. While farmers and ranchers in the area are resilient, the pain is real. We will do everything in our power at USDA to be as helpful as we possibly can.”
On Thursday, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the Nebraska counties of Butler, Cass, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Nemaha, Sarpy, Saunders, and Washington.
Farm Production and Conservation Agencies Helping Producers Weather Financial Impacts:
When major disasters strike, USDA has an emergency loan program that provides eligible farmers low-interest loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. USDA also offers additional programs tailored to the needs of specific agricultural sectors to help producers weather the financial impacts of major disasters and rebuild their operations.
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. Producers who suffer losses to or are prevented from planting agricultural commodities not covered by federal crop insurance may be eligible for assistance under USDA’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program if the losses were due to natural disasters.
USDA’s Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program provides payments to these producers to help compensate for losses due to disease (including cattle tick fever), and adverse weather or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires, that are not covered by certain other disaster programs.
USDA Helping Agricultural Operations Recover After Disasters:
USDA provides financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program for immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources.
Orchardists and nursery tree growers in the affected area may be eligible for assistance through USDA’s Tree Assistance Program to help replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes, and vines damaged by natural disasters.
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has information about protecting livestock on its Protecting Livestock During a Disaster page. Additionally, the agency is helping to meet the emergency needs of pets and their owners, as inspectors are coordinating closely with zoos, breeders, and other licensed facilities in the region to ensure the safety of animals in their care.
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Preventing Foodborne Illness:
As residents make it back into their homes, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is helping ensure they are taking the proper steps to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Food safety tips after a power outage and flooding are available on the FSIS website.
USDA encourages those whose homes flooded during the storm to take steps to protect the safety of their food.
Tips to protect food safety after flooding occurs:
- Drink only bottled water that has not come in contact with flood water. Discard any bottled water that may have come in contact with flood water.
- Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance it may have come in contact with flood water. Food containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps.
- Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers that may have come in contact with flood water.
- Thoroughly wash all metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils that came in contact with flood water with hot soapy water. Sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
- Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches (for example, flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved. Follow the “Steps to Salvage All-Metal Cans and Retort Pouches” in the publication Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency.
USDA Helping Impacted Communities Recover:
During declared natural disasters that lead to imminent threats to life and property, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service can assist local government sponsors with the cost of implementing recovery efforts like debris removal and streambank stabilization to address natural resource concerns and hazards through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.
USDA Rural Development (RD) offers technical assistance, loans, grants, and loan guarantees to rural communities and individuals to assist with the construction or rehabilitation of utility infrastructure including water and wastewater systems, community infrastructure, and housing. Rural Development is also helping businesses and utilities that are current USDA borrowers by considering requests to defer principal and/or interest payments, and to provide additional temporary loans. Current USDA single-family home loan customers may also qualify for assistance. Rural community leaders and current USDA Rural Development customers can contact their local RD office or visit the RD disaster resource website to obtain more information.
Visit USDA’s disaster resources website to learn more about USDA disaster preparedness and response. For more information on USDA disaster assistance programs, please contact your local USDA Service Center. To find your local USDA Service Center, go to offices.usda.gov.