USDA Disaster Meeting & NCC Resources

Georgia FSA, NRCS, RMA, and Rural Development are holding a meeting for all interested parties this monday (October 22) starting at 2:00 at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. They will be discussing disaster programs that each of their organizations have.

Furthermore, our partners at the National Cotton Council of America have developed a site for reporting storm damages.  This data will be helpful as cotton leadership goes to Washington to discuss disaster relief for farmers across the areas affected by Hurricane Michael.  The Council is also reminding producers to look over ARC/PLC election information as they make those decisions in the aftermath of the hurricane.  See below for more information:

A NCC link for providing estimates of crop losses on your farm and/or in your county.  Damage estimates can be detailed by either giving pre- and post-Michael yields or specifying losses in pounds or percentages.  An estimate of the number of cotton acres on your operation will be helpful.  We are also asking for information on input costs for this crop, as well as feedback on damages to other crops, structures, equipment or other infrastructure.  Please note the name of the storm, as we intend to also send this link to industry leaders impacted by Hurricane Florence.  The information that you provide will be anonymous, as we are asking you to not to provide your name.

 

http://www.cotton.org/disaster/

 

A NCC link with information for the 2018 Seed Cotton Program, including an ARC/PLC example.

 

http://www.cotton.org/econ/govprograms/seed-cotton-program.cfm

 

A link to the USDA-RMA Managers Bulletin covering emergency procedures for crops damaged by Hurricane Michael.

 

https://www.rma.usda.gov/en/Procedural-Handbooks/Bulletins-and-Memos/2018/MGR-18-014-Emergency-Procedures-Hurricane-Michael

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Hurricane Michael Devastates Georgia Cotton Crop

On the afternoon/night of October 10th and the early hours of October 11th, Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc on southwest, central, and parts of east Georgia and took an exceptional toll on Georgia’s agricultural economy, especially the cotton crop.  Producers are reporting losses anywhere from 25% to a total loss, depending on location in the state, as well as structural and equipment losses and damage.

Official reports of losses will be coming in the coming weeks as University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service personnel collect data.  It is however, without question that losses will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  Losses will extend well beyond the farm, as cotton gins, other agribusinesses, and rural communities will feel the ripples of Hurricane Michael’s aftermath for years to come.

Producers are encouraged to document damage and losses before, during, and after cleanup as well as financial records of cleanup, repair, etc., as assistance and crop insurance may take some time.  Industry leadership has been in touch with officials in Washington and Atlanta describing the effects of the storm.

The Georgia Cotton Commission is a producer-funded organization located in Perry, Georgia. The Commission began in 1965. Georgia cotton producers pay an assessment enabling the Commission to invest in programs of research, promotion, and education on behalf of all cotton producers of Georgia. For more information about this and other topics please call 478-988-4235 or visit us on the web at www.georgiacottoncommission.org.

USDA Prepared to Respond to Hurricane Michael

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds rural communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses potentially impacted by Hurricane Michael of programs to provide assistance in the wake of disasters. USDA staff in the regional, State and county offices stand ready and eager to help. Additionally, USDA’s Operations Center will function around the clock.

“Hurricane Michael quickly grew into a dangerous storm, and residents within its path should heed the advice from their local authorities to ensure their safety,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “All of USDA’s relevant agencies are ready to assist when natural disasters strike, and we will be there for our farmers and ranchers affected by this storm to get them the help they need.”

USDA has important roles in both response to hurricanes and recovery efforts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating the Federal response to support the affected States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service coordinates the response of interagency firefighting personnel, equipment, and supplies mobilized in support of FEMA’s response efforts under the National Response Framework.

USDA recently launched a disaster assistance discovery tool through its new website Farmers.gov that walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover after a natural disaster.

In a continuing effort to serve the public, USDA also partnered with FEMA and other disaster-focused organizations and created the Disaster Resource Center website, located at www.usda.gov/topics/disaster. This central source of information utilizes a searchable knowledgebase of disaster-related resources powered by agents with subject matter expertise. The Disaster Resource Center website and web tool now provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance.

USDA also encourages residents and small businesses in impact zones to contact USDA offices which meet their individual needs.

Food Safety and Food Assistance

Severe weather forecasts often present the possibility of power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends consumers take necessary steps before, during, and after a power outage to reduce food waste and minimize the risk of foodborne illness. FSIS offers tips for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe and A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes brochure (PDF, 2 MB) that can be downloaded and printed for reference at home. Consumers with questions can contact the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854. Owners of meat and poultry producing businesses who have questions or concerns may contact the FSIS Small Plant Help Desk by phone at 1-877-FSIS-HELP (1-877-374-7435), by email at infosource@fsis.usda.gov, or 24/7 online at: www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/svsp/sphelpdesk.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) coordinates with state, local and voluntary organizations to provide food for shelters and other mass feeding sites. Under certain circumstances, states also may request to operate a disaster household distribution program to distribute USDA Foods directly to households in need. As disaster response moves into the recovery phase, FNS may approve a state’s request to implement a Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) when the President declares a major disaster for individual assistance under the Stafford Act in areas affected by a disaster. State agencies also may request a number of disaster-related waivers to help provide temporary assistance to impacted households already receiving SNAP benefits at the time of the disaster, and to provide flexibilities in administering school meals, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and other programs. Resources for disaster feeding partners as well as available FNS disaster nutrition assistance can be found on the FNS Disaster Assistance website.

Crop and Livestock Loss

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers many safety-net programs to help producers recover from eligible losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, Emergency Forest Restoration Program (PDF, 257 KB) and the Tree Assistance Program. The FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. Producers located in counties that receive a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Compensation also is available to producers who purchased coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. USDA encourages farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to learn what documents can help the local office expedite assistance, such as farm records, receipts and pictures of damages or losses.

Producers with coverage through the federal crop insurance program administered by the Risk Management Agency should contact their crop insurance agent. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses. Producers should report crop damage within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days.

Community Recovery Resources

For declared natural disasters that lead to imminent threats to life and property, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) 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. NRCS also can help producers with damaged agricultural lands caused by natural disasters, such as floods.

The NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial assistance to repair and prevent excessive soil erosion that can result from high rainfall events and flooding. Conservation practices supported through EQIP protect the land and aid in recovery, can build the natural resource base, and might help mitigate loss in future events.

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture provides support for disaster education through the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN). EDEN is a collaborative multi-state effort with land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension Services across the country, using research-based education and resources to improve the delivery of services to citizens affected by disasters. EDEN’s goal is to improve the nation’s ability to mitigate, prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from disasters. EDEN equips county-based Extension educators to share research-based resources in local disaster management and recovery efforts. The EDEN website offers a searchable database of Extension professionals, resources, member universities and disaster agency websites, education materials to help people deal with a wide range of hazards, and food and agricultural defense educational resources.

Many of USDA Rural Development programs can help provide financial relief to rural communities hit by natural disasters by offering low-interest loans to rural community facilities, rural businesses and cooperatives and to rural utilities. More information can be found on the Rural Development website, located at www.rd.usda.gov.

For complete details and eligibility requirements regarding USDA’s disaster assistance programs, contact a local USDA Service Center. More information about USDA disaster assistance, as well as other disaster resources, is available on the USDA Disaster Resource Center website, located at www.usda.gov/topics/disaster.

NCC Welcomes Updated Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – “The National Cotton Council (NCC) is extremely appreciative of the Trump Administration’s work to update and modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement, and our industry welcomes the conclusion of the negotiations,” said NCC Chairman Ron Craft, a Plains, Texas, ginner.

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will ensure continued duty-free access for U.S. cotton to Mexico and Canada, with Mexico representing a top five export market for U.S. raw cotton. Both Canada and Mexico are top five export markets for cotton textile and apparel exports.

Craft said, “The NCC is pleased to see the addition of a textile and apparel chapter to the USMCA and inclusion of provisions to:   promote greater use of U.S. origin textile products, incentivize North American textile production, and strengthen customs enforcement in textile and apparel products. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration in addressing other trade issues to grow exports of U.S. cotton and cotton products and enhance our market share and competitiveness in key markets.”

The Memphis-based NCC’s mission is ensuring the ability of the U.S. cotton industry’s seven segments to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad.