Natural disasters create adversity for agricultural producers and processors as they care for their livestock, buildings and rural communities. In many cases, improved forecasting assists farmers and feed manufacturers with preparing for the weather event, but recovery from the destruction to infrastructure, especially transportation, continues to be a major hardship. In some states, there has been development of policy-based incentives for municipalities to be responsible for natural disaster resilience.
At a recent stakeholder meeting earlier this month, attended by AFIA staff, several state commissioners of agriculture shared details of the recent natural disasters and the work they've been doing to better address issues for the future.
As Midwest farmers, ranchers and other business owners move through drudgery cleanup in the aftermath of winter storm Ulmer, the long-term impacts of the snow and flooding are still being catalogued. While some rivers have crested, others over the central United States continue to rise and may not crest until the latter part of April or early May.
As farmers assess the damage caused from floods in Iowa, Nebraska and surrounding states over the past week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says that Congress may need to provide additional disaster aid for the region.
"I have a pick up and trailer that can hold 14 head of cattle-ready to go. I also have two horses and riders ready to work on herding cattle of all sorts."
By Thursday morning, over 100 similar posts were written on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Agriculture Disaster Exchange's website, listing offers to assist farmers and ranchers in the recovery efforts from winter storm Ulmer, which descended on the region March 13-14. Rain and snow, driven by howling winds, caused flooding and the accumulation of snow drifts that mired cattle, as much of the upper Midwest entered the spring calving season. The winter storm also impacted much of the animal feed industry in the region.
One of the animal food industry's sustainability pillars focuses on how companies are supporting their local communities. Last year, the American Feed Industry Association found through its annual charitable giving survey that its members donated over $44 million to an expansive list of community causes and a whopping 92,000 volunteer hours in 2017.