To say that 2017’s weather has not been kind to many U.S. farmers and ranchers this year is an understatement. Devastating wildfires in the West have destroyed thousands of miles of fencing, killed livestock and destroyed buildings and equipment, and hurricanes have wiped out crops, livestock and buildings in Puerto Rico as well as Florida and other coastal states.
Farmers have a natural desire to help other farmers. Fortunately there are in many cases some easy ways to do that.
Ag Community Relief: The non-profit was founded this spring when wildfires devastated parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, leaving producers in need of hay. Its focus has expanded, and the goal is to bring relief to active farmers and ranchers across the United States who experience devastation by assembling volunteers and donations to help mitigate their suffering. “We are here to help them get back to where they were before their disaster struck,” the organization’s website says.
Texas Farm Bureau Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund: Texas Farm Bureau’s Agriculture Research and Education Foundation is accepting tax-deductible monetary donations to aid in the relief effort following the devastation from Hurricane Harvey. One hundred percent of the donations to this fund will be dispersed via an application process directly to farmers and ranchers located in counties that have been designated as disaster areas by the federal government for this event.
Hurricane Irma Disaster Relief Fund: Florida Farm Bureau Women’s Fund is accepting tax-deductible donations for relief to Florida agriculture devastated by Hurricane Irma. The Florida Farm Bureau board of directors provided the fund with its initial capital by contributing $5,000. In addition, the board voted to send $5,000 to the Texas Farm Bureau Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund for Agriculture.
Though there are a number of organizations (such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and UNICEF) trying to help the people of Puerto Rico after the U.S. territory was slammed by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, The Hoosier Farmer so far has been unable to locate a charity focused specifically on helping Puerto Rican farmers.
“In general, we lost almost 100 percent of our agriculture,” Puerto Rico Farm Bureau President Hector Cordero said in an interview with the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Newsline. “All crops – plantains, bananas, papaya, coffee – all are a loss.”
Cordero, who is a dairy farmer, noted that Puerto Rico’s dairy industry was hard hit as well, first by the hurricanes and now by the loss of infrastructure, including power and roads. Dairy represents the biggest sector of Puerto Rico’s agriculture, but as of early October, when Cordero was interviewed by Newsline, the industry was operating at a production level of about 50 percent because farmers are having trouble accessing their farms and getting their milk to processors.
Cordero is urging Congress and the Agriculture Department to assist farmers.
“We need an action from Congress and from the USDA. We need people from USDA,” Cordero said.
Photos courtesy of Florida Farm Bureau.