Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Documenting Flood Damage and Assistance (for farmers)

Vermont Association of Conservation Districts is using the attached form (below) to collect data on agricultural damage. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will be compiling this data so all forms should be returned to FSA County Directors (see link below) or the FSA office in Colchester. This form is not a request for assistance, it is only being used to collect information on the extent of agricultural damage in Vermont. You should contact your Farm Service Agency and/or Natural Resource Conservation Service representative to see if you are eligible for any assistance.

It is very important to document all of your crop and infrastructure damage with photos (before destroying crops or fixing structures) and any records you think may be helpful (quantities and value of crops lost, any receipts you have to show investments made in the crops etc…)

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA)’s Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) provides emergency funding and technical assistance to counties and surrounding areas that have been declared Federal Disaster Areas, and may be able to provide assistance with flood-related damage to conservation-related practices. Contact your FSA representative or the Sate FSA Office at: 802-658-2803

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP) may be able to provide assistance if you have property that is in imminent danger. Contact your representative or the State NRCS Office at: 802-951-6796
You should also report all losses to your Town Clerk as they will be working with agencies to coordinate assistance.


Event Name: ________________________________ Date of Event: ______________

Contact Information
Farm Name:
Farmer Name:

Crop Damage
Estimated Acres Damaged
Estimated Value of Loss

Livestock Mortality
No. of Deaths
Estimated Value of Loss

Facilities/Operations/Land/Conservation Practice Damage:
Attach at least one date-stamped, labeled photograph for each significant area of damage.

Describe damage (include acreage if relevant) and estimated cost of repair or replacement. Use other side if needed.

Data Sharing
I authorize the USDA Farm Service Agency, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, UVM Cooperative Extension, VACD, and the Natural Resources Conservation District to share this information for the purpose of assessing state-wide damage and seeking financial support for assistance.


Verbal authorization taken by:

This information was collected by:

Return this form to your FSA County Director. This form is not an application for assistance; it is to assess state-wide damage. If you would like to make an application for assistance, visit your USDA Service Center. Thank You.

What farmers should do in response to flood damage - from Vermont Emergency Management

Vermont Farmers Battle the Impact of Hurricane Irene

Montpelier, VT – Many Vermont farmers are experiencing devastating effects from the flooding and
washed out roads in the wake of Hurricane Irene. The heavy rains accompanied by high winds are leaving
farmers with flooded fields and barns, debris, and limited options for milk pick-ups.

Although we understand that many people are still in emergency response mode, the Agency of
Agriculture is urging farmers to report losses sustained due to these weather incidents as soon as possible.
These efforts will assist the state in exploring various areas of possible assistance from the federal

Vermont Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross is urging farmers to contact state and federal agencies about
any damage or losses they have incurred or expect to incur in the future, so that the scope of the problem
and impacts can be documented accurately. “We need to hear from farmers in order to evaluate and
determine what kind of help might be available and where it is needed,” said Ross.

Vermont Emergency Management (VEM) is requesting that farmers of all types report damage to any of
their property in the following manner so that impact information can be included in their justification for
emergency funds.
If you are in need of emergency response dial 911.
If you are in need of provisions or assistance, please contact your local responders, such as your local fire
or police departments. They will assess the situation and direct you to necessary resources as well as
connect farms in need of power with a working generator.
• If there is damage to your house(s) or other dwelling in which you live, that report should be made by
calling 211 and completing a damage assessment report with the operator. The operator will then forward
this information to VEM. Natural Resources Conservation Services also has the Emergency Watershed
Protection Program (EWP) that can help protect property that is in threat of further damage if not
immediately repaired. Call 802-951-6796 for information.

• If there is damage to any part of your property or business, including but not limited to barns, milking
parlors, crops, fields, equipment, etc., this information should be reported to your county USDA Farm
Service Agency or your county Natural Resources Conservation Services office; you can also contact
organizations to which you belong such as the Vermont Farm Bureau at 802-434-5646 or NOFA Vermont
802-434-4122. These organizations should send a summary of the information to the Agency of
Agriculture which will then forward to VEM. Farmers experiencing loss of crops due to flooding should
contact their crop insurance agent immediately as well as USDA Farm Service Agency.

Farmers are encouraged to keep in touch with USDA Farm Service Agency at 802-658-2803 and Natural
Resources Conservation Service at 802-951-6796.

Food Safety for flooded gardens

Here is some information that has been gleaned from various sources, mainly the FDA and Extension Services...

Priority: Food safety
Because contaminated floodwaters present both microbial and chemical hazards which cannot be effectively controlled, foods which have contacted them should not be used for human food. Safety cannot be tested or adequately assured. This approach is a conservative one, but it is a sound one consistent with the principles found in current good agricultural practices. The safety of the food supply must take priority over other competing issues in this situation. The present concern is for floodwaters which may be grossly contaminated with agricultural runoff such as biosolids from farms, septic systems, lagoons and treatment facilities, and possibly, chemical contaminants from damaged and destroyed equipment and tanks. Certainly, any rising, standing or receding water is suspect if its origin is other than local rainfall.

If the edible portion of a crop is exposed to flood waters, it is considered adulterated and should not enter human food channels. There is no practical method of reconditioning the edible portion of a crop that will provide a reasonable assurance of human food safety. Therefore, the FDA recommends that these crops be disposed of in a manner that ensures they are kept separate from crops that have not been flood damaged to avoid adulterating "clean" crops.

Disposition of crops in proximity to, or exposed to a lesser degree of flooding, where the edible portion of the crop has NOT come in contact with flood waters, may need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Factors to consider in the evaluation include:
• What is the source of flood waters and are there potential upstream contributors of human pathogens and/or chemical contaminants?
• Type of crop and stage of growth, e.g., is the edible portion of the crop developing? How far above the ground does the lowest edible portion grow?
• Were conditions such that the crop may have been exposed to prolonged periods of moisture and stress which could foster fungal growth, and possibly, development of mycotoxins?
• Grains and similar products stored in bulk can also be damaged by flood waters. These flood damaged products should not be used for human and animal food.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables that have been inundated by flood waters cannot be adequately cleaned and should be destroyed. Fresh fruits and vegetables that have begun to spoil due to the lack of refrigeration should also be destroyed. These food items may be considered for diversion to animal feed under certain circumstances.

As painful as it may be to do, all crops with edible portions that have come in contact with flood waters should be destroyed or discarded.
Safety Precautions from FDA for crops and workers
 Discard all crops that have edible portions that have come in contact with flood water. Before cleaning up or destroying crops in flooded fields, check with your crop insurance and/or their local Farm Services Agency (FSA) representatives regarding exact documentation to certify losses, procedures for initiating claims, possible financial assistance.
 Although root crops are usually cooked and often peeled before consumption, if under flood waters, they are considered to be grown in unsanitary conditions.

Why can’t we recondition the crops?
“Is there a way to recondition these crops?” Recent increases in diseases from fruits and vegetables have come from the application of wastewater, and improperly composted manures to soils. Flood conditions in some areas may mimic these hazards. Root crops harvested in these soils may be contaminated. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recommends that heavily contaminated fruits and vegetables should receive a thorough potable water wash prior to washing in a disinfectant. However, this may not be applicable to the current situation in North Carolina.

Washing the produce
When washing, produce should be washed with water that contains a free chlorine residual at all times. The primary purpose of chlorinating wash water is to prevent microbial buildup in the processing waters from becoming another source of contamination. Without the chlorine residual in wash water we can expect microbial growth which will increase microbial contamination on the surfaces of produce. This wash does not disinfect the produce.

How about attempting to disinfect the produce itself? Using 100-200 ppm chlorine in wash waters is a common practice. However, the literature shows that such levels of disinfectants are not found to be effective in destroying human pathogens on produce. The organic matter present on the surface of the produce decreases the effectiveness of chlorine. At best, studies show that microbial populations can be reduced only 1-2 log cycles. Produce that is mishandled and recontaminated will soon return to prewash levels or higher levels of microorganisms. Sometimes destruction of the existing mixed flora present on produce surfaces may actually result in reestablishment of a more concentrated flora of human pathogens.

Further processing
The fourth question is, “What if we process further?” Further processing is an important contributor to the safety of food processed. Products such as sweet potatoes are peeled. Some, like peanuts, are removed from the pod. Cooking destroys most pathogens. Processing certainly reduces the microbial load, and may reduce some of the surface chemical contamination. Because of the uncertainty as to the type and extent of the contaminants, this further processing does not necessarily provide an assurance of safety.

Food safety in relation to flooding - for farmers


Floods occur when water or runoff from surface waters such as rivers, lakes or steams overflows and runs into fields. Water from heavy rainfall that pools on the surface of saturated soils is NOT considered flooding.

Flood waters are likely to contain contaminants. These may come from upstream farms and rural septic systems, urban lawns and roadways, industrial sites or overflow from municipal sewage systems. Contaminants may include: raw manure or feces, agricultural chemicals, heavy metals or other chemical contaminants. Microbial pathogens that could be in flood waters include bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

For these reasons, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers crops where the edible portion has come in contact with flood waters to be adulterated and not to be sold for human consumption. See:

As painful as it may be to do, all crops with edible portions that have come in contact with flood waters should be destroyed or discarded.

Advice for flooded crops:

Per FDA, discard all crops that have edible portions that have come in contact with flood water. Before cleaning up or destroying crops in flooded fields, check with your crop insurance and/or local Farm Services Agency (FSA) representatives regarding exact documentation to certify losses, procedures for initiating claims, possible financial assistance.

Although root crops are usually cooked and often peeled before consumption, if under flood waters, they may be considered to be grown in unsanitary conditions. We are waiting to learn more details from the FDA about their regulations, but common sense suggests that intact, undamaged crops that are to be peeled and cooked, such as winter squash, can be sold after they were flooded BUT ONLY IF flooding was for a short period of time (several hours at most) and the crop was promptly harvested and is thoroughly washed and then treated with a high rate of sanitizer such as chlorine or Sanidate before sale. We have contacted the FDA about this -- if we learn differently from the FDA we will inform you as soon as we have a response.

Place markers at the high water line so you can identify the area where crops were in contact with flood waters.

Leave a 30 foot buffer between flooded areas of fields and adjacent areas to be harvested for human consumption; this is to accommodate a generous turn-around distance for equipment to prevent contact with flooded soil and avoid cross-contamination of non-flooded ground.

Workers should wear protective clothing such as rubber boots and rubber gloves when working in fields that were flooded where plants that may be contaminated. Protective clothing should be discarded or thoroughly cleaned after working in flooded areas.

Avoid feeding crops that came in contact with flood waters to livestock as plants could have pesticides, pathogens, mycotoxins, or other contaminants that could be harmful to livestock health.

If your well head was submerged, re-test your well water to make sure that only safe, potable water comes into direct contact with produce.
The VT Dept. of Health "NU" test kit costs $15 for a measure of coliform and E.coli. Call 800-660-9997 to order with credit card or request an order form.

Regarding crops near flooded areas, or with no edible parts developed or exposed to flood water:

Crops near flooded areas or those that were flooded without the edible part of the plant coming in contact with flood water (such as sweet corn or staked tomatoes) need to be evaluated on a case by case basis. These, and crops in which the edible portion develops after flood waters recede are not automatically deemed adulterated. It is your decision whether to sell them after considering the following:

Is the edible part of the plant developing and if so, how far above the flood water was it?

Is there any evidence that floodwater splashed up onto edible portion of the crop? Floodwater almost certainly contains some pathogens and/or chemicals.

If feeding to livestock, was the crop exposed to prolonged periods of moisture and stress that could promote fungal growth or molds that could produce mycotoxins?

Other considerations:

Allow at least 60 days to elapse between flooding and planting of the next human food crop. In absence of known or suspected biological or chemical contaminants in flood waters (such as sewage discharge or run-off from industrial sites) you can replant after 60 days.

Organic growers: flood waters might contain residues of prohibited substances.Contact your certifier to discuss your situation.

Soils should be allowed to dry sufficiently and then tilled to at least six inches deep before planting crops. Adding compost or other organic matter when tilling will be beneficial to many soils. The soil should be retested for nutrient levels after flood waters recede, as the pH and nutrient levels of the soil may have changed.

To protect the soil from erosion, it is advisable to plant a cover crop on fields that cannot be re-planted soon with an edible crop. Cover crops can also help suppress weeds, and improve overall soil health. At this time of year (early fall) small grains such as oats or winter rye are good choices, with or without hairy vetch for adding fixed nitrogen.

For more detailed information:

Salinas Flooding Brings Out the Consequences of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, Response by Trevor Suslow to Salinas flooding in Jim Prevor's Perishable Pundit, April 7, 2011
June 6, 2011

The Questions on Salvaging Flooded Crops, John E. Rushing, Ph.D.
Department of Food Science
June 6, 2011

Impact on Flooding on Organic Food and Fields, Jim Riddle, Organic Outreach Coordinator, University of Minnesota, 2007
June 6, 2011

Soil Testing Following Flooding:

Assessing damage to corn and field crops:

For Organic Growers, information from the University of Minnesota:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Kingdom Farm & Food Days is August 20 - 21

Kingdom Farm & Food Days is August 20-21, 2011

Hardwick, VT, August 4, 2011 - The Center for an Agricultural Economy, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Pete’s Greens, New England Culinary Institute and Craftsbury Outdoor Center are once again hosting the Kingdom Farm & Food Days, a weekend celebration of local food and Vermont agriculture. This mostly free event will take place on August 20 & 21, 2011.

On Saturday, August 20, you will get the chance to visit many of the area’s farms, nurseries and other agricultural businesses. From 10am to 3pm, these businesses will open their doors and offer a range of activities, including tours of their farms, workshops, product samples and more. Pete’s Greens will have scheduled guided tours in the afternoon, followed by music and a picnic starting at 4pm.

The 2nd Annual Kingdom Farm & Food Days Bike Tour, hosted by the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, celebrates the beauty of our working landscape. Two bike tours, one 15 miles long and a more strenuous 30 mile long tour, will be offered on Saturday, August 20.

On Sunday, August 21, the celebration continues at High Mowing Organic Seeds’ Trials and Showcase Garden in Wolcott. Starting at 10am there will be guided tours of their Trials and Showcase Garden, workshops on pickling and seed production, and much more. A Local Foods Showcase will follow at 4pm, presented by New England Culinary Institute students and Chef Ryan O’Malley. This meal is prepared using all local products and ingredients, and is made possible due to the many food donations we have received from area farms and businesses.

Please visit the event’s website for a full schedule of events, bike tour registration, participating farms and businesses as well as directions.
Gorgeous summer days in Vermont!

Elena Gustavson
Center for an Agricultural Economy
(802) 472-5840

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Skilled Meat Cutter Training Program Looking for Development Help

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets received $25,000 from the Vermont Legislature for “the development of a curriculum and provision of classroom and on-the-job training for the occupation of skilled meat cutter.” They are now recruiting a team to partner with us on this exciting initiative! The goals of the Skilled Meat Cutter Training Program are to: support meat and poultry processors and producers, create jobs, and enhance Vermont’s livestock industry.

They are now accepting proposals from educational institutions and other job training organizations for program development. Find the complete RFP here. Applications are due by September 1.

They are also accepting nominations for representatives to an advisory team that will work with the selected contractor. They would like representation from: the livestock slaughter industry; meat distribution, marketing and/or retail; and technical education. Other stakeholders or related organizations will be considered. Each member of the advisory team will receive a small stipend to cover time and travel expenses. Find the nomination form here. Nominations are due by August 22.

Please forward along this information to anyone you know who may be interested in being involved.

If you have any questions, please contact Chelsea Bardot Lewis, Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture at