This article is a supplement to Farmers’ Guide to Disaster Assistance. It focuses on aspects of federal disaster assistance that are of particular relevance for organic farmers. The first part of the article discusses steps that organic farmers may take to plan for natural disaster. Advance planning may enable organic farmers to prevent or reduce the effects of natural disaster on their farms, prepare for the agronomic and financial impacts of natural disaster, and improve the resilience of their farms following a natural disaster.
The second part of the article discusses federal programs that provide assistance to farmers in order to recover from natural disaster. In large part, these are the same programs discussed in greater detail in Farmers’ Guide to Disaster Assistance. However, organic farmers face some barriers to full participation in federal disaster assistance programs. These materials are aimed primarily at helping farmers to understand and participate in the programs as they exist now. But improving the accessibility and effectiveness of federal disaster assistance for organic farmers is important to individual organic farmers, and may be crucial to restoring local and regional food systems when natural disaster strikes.
The article concludes by addressing questions farmers may have about how natural disaster and disaster recovery may affect their organic certification status. Most organic farmers have invested a number of years in achieving their “certified organic” status, and a loss of that status could have financial consequences for the farmer well beyond the loss of a single year’s crop.