Family Farm Disaster Fund

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.

1. Document Everything

Almost every program or policy that can be of help to farmers will require documentation of the loss. After a disaster, only physical safety is more urgent than documenting the damage. Collect photos, notes, descriptions, and keep receipts and anything else that may help prove what happened on the farm to someone who’s never been there.

For important info on what to document and what to expect when working with the Farm Service Agency and others, visit this guide (PDF) from our partners at RAFI-USA.

2. Contact Agencies Right Away

The agencies that you will deal with for the disaster, primarily FEMA and USDA, need to be contacted as soon as possible. This is especially true for USDA if you have not worked with them in the past. Keep a record of all contacts with people from agencies, insurance companies, contractors, and anyone else involved in the recovery effort.

Find resources that are active now and determine your program eligibility at


Use the USDA Discovery Tool to find USDA programs that might be right for you.

You can get basic information about USDA-Farm Service Agency programs at the following sites:

You can find your local USDA office at this link.

FEMA/Homeland Security:

For additional information on FEMA programs, visit:


Small Business Administration can help with assistance for your home and farm. Find out more details here.


There may be special tax provisions available to you if you’re impacted by a disaster. Find more info here.

3. Deadlines Will Come Fast

All disaster programs have deadlines and some of them come very quickly. Check with your local agency to make sure of deadlines.

Navigating Disaster Assistance for Farmers (PDF) has a chart of the main programs for farmers with details on eligibility, uses, and deadlines.

4. Programs Usually Have Appeals Processes

Disaster relief programs usually include an appeals process. If you are denied from a program, know that “no” is not always the final answer.

Farmers’ Guide to Disaster Assistance was developed by the Farmers’ Legal Action Group and has in-depth information on each program, your rights, and appeals.

5. Recovery is a Long Process… and Often Includes Mental Health Issues

Recovery from a disaster will be a long process. As is the case with other traumatic experiences, people tend to go through stages as they react to a disaster, including anger, depression, fear, etc. Attention to the mental health of everyone involved is essential. Be patient and caring with yourself and others.

Feeling like the stress is unbearable? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You do not have to be suicidal to make the call!

6. Scam Artists Will Come Around

Unfortunately, scam artists always arrive soon after a disaster. Be careful. Get work proposals in writing. Do not pay cash. Do not pay more than 1/3 of the cost up front. Do not let contractors or others force you to make a decision on the spot.

7. Discrimination is Illegal

The programs are available to all who are eligible. Discrimination is illegal. Each agency should have a discrimination complaint process.

8. You Can Call Farm Aid

We know that navigating these programs can be overwhelming as you work to rebuild. Please know that you can call 1-800-FARM-AID at any time if you need emotional support or help with the details. Farm Aid can put you in touch with someone near you to help you figure things out. You can also visit Farm Aid’s Resource Guide for Farm Crisis Support for additional information. For more info on a wide array of disaster resources, visit FLAG’s Disaster/Risk Management site.

We work to keep this page up-to-date. If you know of additional resources you can share with us, please email or call our hotline at 1-800-FARMAID.

Last updated 3/21/2019

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