Refugio County, Texas farm destroyed by Hurricane Harvey
Refugio County, Texas farm destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. Photo: USDA

Blog | August 30, 2017

Hurricane Harvey’s Impact on Farmers and Ranchers

While the rain still falls in Texas and Louisiana and the waters continue to rise, the complete impacts of Hurricane Harvey remain unknown. We are saddened to know of the deaths of now as many as thirty people, and we are worried about the loss and chaos the hurricane has created throughout the Gulf Coast and central Texas. As an organization dedicated to strengthening family farmers, we are concerned for farmers and ranchers, and their animals and crops. Our long experience in responding to farmers who have experienced major natural disasters tells us that there will be a need for long-term care for farmers and ranchers, who often don’t process the devastation of a natural disaster until long after the flood waters recede.

Grain bins destroyed by Hurricane Harvey in the San Patricio/Refugio County area in Texas

Grain bins destroyed by Hurricane Harvey in the San Patricio/Refugio County area in Texas. Photo: USDA

We are heartened by the professional and volunteer responses that have brought people together. Even in a time of division in our country, we come together to help those in need. It is what we do as a country.

“Our hearts are with everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. At Farm Aid, we’re focusing our relief efforts on the farmers and ranchers who’ve lost their crops, livestock, pasture, barns, equipment and other essentials to maintaining their livelihoods and providing good food for all of us. We know farm families are resilient, and we will do all we can to help them find hope as they recover from this historic disaster. We’ve activated our Family Farm Disaster Fund, and we’re partnering with local, regional and national farm organizations that know how to help farmers in times like these. We’re in this for the long haul.” – Willie Nelson

What Farm Aid is Doing

Farm Aid has partnered with local and national organizations, including Texas Organic Farmers & Ranchers Association, Texas Center for Local Food, Sustainable Food Center, Urban Harvest, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, National Center for Appropriate Technology, Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Louisiana Interchurch Conference, GROW Local South Texas and Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA to:

  • Make emergency grants to farm and ranch families in Texas and Louisiana impacted by Hurricane Harvey;
  • Help farmers and ranchers understand their farm recovery options;
  • Support local and state farmer service providers to help farmers navigate farm recovery options, from mental health resources to federal funding opportunities;
  • Advocate for needed disaster recovery funds and resources from the federal government.

Previous Farm Aid-led efforts to inform, leverage partners, and mitigate the drought disaster losses in Texas and elsewhere have yielded very useful and relevant materials on first steps when responding to a disaster. Those materials can be found here.

For Farmers

The Texas Department of Agriculture is managing a privately funded pool of resources for matching grants up to $4,000 for fencing, livestock, feed, seed, labor and other financial demands of farmers responding to the flood. They can be reached by visiting this page or by calling 512-463-9932.

So far information is far from complete and efforts to further understand the scope, scale, and response relevant to agriculture in the area is ongoing, but we know the greatest impacts will be felt by rice and cotton farmers as well as cattle ranchers without access to high ground. To read more about the impacts to farmers, we recommend this article in The Progressive Farmer.

If You’d Like to Help

The Texas Tribune has compiled a complete list of ways that you can help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

If you’d like to support Farm Aid’s work in response to Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, please donate to the Family Farmer Disaster Fund today.

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