How Farmers and Ranchers Can Find Recovery Assistance and Plan for Resilience

Instead of the usual “traffic and weather” last week our local radio stations provided a regular “traffic, weather, and wildfire report.” These updates include status reports on fires in our region, with information on road closures and evacuation orders.

Instead of the usual “traffic and weather” last week our local radio stations provided a regular “traffic, weather, and wildfire report.” These updates include status reports on fires in our region, with information on road closures and evacuation orders.

Here in California, we had dry lightning storms that sparked multiple complex fires across the state. After several tense days, I am catching my breath, grieving what has been lost, and grateful for what remains. Authorities are not finished assessing the damage or counting the losses because the fires are still burning. So far, in our county alone, 925 homes, 171 commercial structures and 388 other structures are confirmed to be completely destroyed. That’s not counting other farm infrastructure, irrigation systems, or loss of tractors, farm equipment and vehicles. Many have established crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe sites to ask for private donations. Behind every number in every region under this declared “state of emergency” are the faces, fields, orchards and livelihoods of many small farms. We have worked with and learned from these amazing farmers, as we held workshops and visited their unique operations.

The farmers’ path to recovery will be long and hard, but they will not be alone. We know our region is one of many farming communities across the country impacted by storms, fires, and other disasters this season. If you have been recently affected, here are some ways to learn about and seek disaster assistance for relief and recovery. The article “USDA Assists Farmers, Ranchers, and Communities Affected by Recent Wildfires” provides many useful links to recovery resources. If you have not yet experienced a disaster in your area, now is a very good time to develop a disaster preparedness and resilience plan. Start by reviewing the resources below.