Disaster Assistance for Farmers

Natural disasters have a huge impact on family farms. Losses are often unavoidable, despite a farmer’s best efforts. Timely assistance is crucial for restoring safety and security for the family and getting the farm business back on track.

When farms are hit by disaster, documenting losses is an important first step in getting assistance. Our partners at RAFI-USA put together this guide to help (PDF)

The Farmers’ Guide to Disaster Assistance written by attorneys at Farmers Legal Action Group (FLAG) explains FEMA assistance, federal crop insurance, USDA’s Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program and Emergency Loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. FLAG also offers guides and updates about federal risk management and disaster programs that can help protect your farm business and your family against natural disasters.

The following list for general support covers most of the disaster assistance that is available at the national level. We work to keep this page up-to-date. If you know of additional resources you can share with us or if you need further assistance, please email farmhelp@farmaid.org or call our hotline at 1-800-FARMAID.

General Disaster Assistance, Applicable Nationwide

  • Farm Service Agency (FSA)
    The FSA, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers farmers disaster and emergency relief resulting from drought, flood, fire, freeze, tornadoes, pest infestation and other calamities. Review the summary of disaster programs administered [PDF link] by FSA to understand what relief options are appropriate for you. Find out more about a specific program by reading through the FSA’s list of disaster fact sheets [PDF link]. Learn more about the triggers, key requirements, payments and funding levels for each disaster program administered by FSA in this detailed summary [PDF link]. Finally contact your local FSA office to learn about eligibility, application requirements, and more.
  • Guide to Federal Disaster Programs
    Users can take a pre-screen questionnaire to help determine which programs are most appropriate for them.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Emergency Preparedness and Response
    The USDA offers information on how to get the resources needed to help you, your family, small businesses and communities during emergencies. USDA works closely with the rest of the Federal Government on all hazards.
  • Disaster Assistance Available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
    FEMA assistance programs are activated only by Presidential Disaster Declarations (not by Disaster Declarations made by the Secretary of Agriculture). FEMA does not help small businesses or commercial farms, but its range of programs can be very helpful for personal and family damages. For example, farmers and ranchers may qualify for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, a FEMA-funded program (administered by each state’s department of labor) that provides assistance to individuals not covered by standard unemployment assistance.
  • Small Business Administration
    The Small Business Administration has loan programs that cover economic injury and other disaster-related expenses for businesses. The SBA also has unemployment assistance and tax relief programs.
  • Farm Aid’s Crisis Support Guide
    Farm life isn’t easy. Nature’s whims, costly repairs, injuries and other unpleasant surprises can upend even the most careful business plan, leaving your farm in physical and financial disarray and placing substantial pressure on your mental and emotional wellbeing. These resources are there for you during the toughest times.

Last updated 10/21/2015

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