Although we've sporadically had a few warning signs on the horizon, farmers in the Carolinas and Virginias have been lucky with the weather overall since the outbreak of tornadoes in the spring. But North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler is reminding farmers in his state that they need to be prepared.
"Having an emergency plan in place, along with a ready list of emergency contacts so you know who to call, can be critical to your operations immediately following severe weather," says Troxler. "Every farming operation is different and has different needs. Assessing in advance what your most pressing needs will be if you should lose power, or are at risk for flooding, can be the difference in salvaging a crop or saving livestock."
The middle and end of August is generally considered to most active part of hurricane season in the Eastern U.S. However, as of the time of this writing on August 18, 2011, there were no apparent threats to the area from tropical storms or hurricanes, according to the National Weather Service. Still, storm and hurricane activity can come up so quickly that Troxler was advising people to take precautions.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services headed up by Troxler points out that previous storms have shown backup generators are important following major storms, and on-site feeding capabilities for livestock operations are also critical.
"The need for generators is always high when a storm strikes," Troxler says. "We encourage farmers to contact local farm suppliers and rental companies in advance of storms to reserve a generator on their own in the event of power outages. There are no guarantees that state-owned generators will be available for farmers and livestock owners."
Troxler reminded farmers that they should have a transfer switch properly installed ahead of time so they can use a generator. A properly installed transfer switch is critical for the protection of farm facilities and utility workers, he said.
Farmers are also encouraged to add the phone number of their county emergency management office to their list of important numbers. County emergency management offices will be coordinating emergency crop and livestock assistance, including requests for generators.
In addition, pesticide applicators should look to secure their pesticide storage areas. Applicators in low-lying areas should do whatever they can to elevate or move pesticides to locations that are less likely to flood.
More preparedness tips to consider:
•Closely monitor local weather reports for up-to-the-minute information on storms.
•Store or secure items or equipment that might blow away.
•Relocate livestock and animals from low-lying areas.
•Check generators to be sure they are in good working order and secure a sufficient amount of fuel to operate them.
•Turn off the propane supply at tanks.
•Secure propane tanks in the event of flooding to prevent them from floating away.
•Move equipment to the highest open ground possible away from trees or buildings that could cause damage.
•Mark animals with an identifier so they can be easily returned if lost. Examples are ear tags with name of farm and phone numbers, brands, paint markings on hooves or coat or clipped initials in the hair.
•Move feed to higher ground or to a more accessible place in case of flooding or transportation problems.
•Coordinate with neighbors beforehand and discuss what resources can be shared. Examples include a backhoe or set of livestock panels.
•Keep a list of important phone numbers. Examples include the local emergency management office, county extension agent, insurance agent, county Farm Service Agency and private veterinarian.
•Secure or move pesticides to higher ground in the event of flooding.
You can follow tropical storm activity online at the National Weather Service website at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.