Protect Your Farm Ahead of a Hurricane


Taking a proactive approach to disaster planning can help your farm or ranch weather the storm. We know the bread and water shelves are often empty right before a hurricane hits and it takes some time to restock. That may be the case with your farm supplies as well. Farmers and ranchers should have enough supplies to get by for at least a week after a major storm. Here are some helpful tips:

Before the Storm:

  • Check that generators and chainsaws are working properly.
  • Stock up on fuel for tractors, generators, and other equipment. Don’t forget about mixed fuel for certain equipment.
  • Scout for potential debris and secure it before the storm. Be proactive to minimize damages. Bring equipment you may need (chain saw, ladder, toolbox, etc.) to a secure location in or near the house.
  • Secure buildings like greenhouses, shops, and barns.
  • Create a plan. Determine whether you will evacuate. If you do so, leave with enough time to get to safety before the storm. Make sure all animals have current immunizations and Coggins tests to take with you if you evacuate them.
  • Locate and protect important paperwork. Insurance, financials, records, etc. can be backed up on computers and paper files can be placed into waterproof containers or bags. Document inventory of farm buildings, vehicles, equipment, and livestock before a disaster occurs (this will help when requesting disaster aid).
  • Create a list of emergency contacts including your veterinarian, your employees and their emergency contacts, and your utility company.

Stay Connected

It’s important to have a good list of current contact information for important people.  While most of us rely on the phone numbers loaded on a smart phone to do our daily business, it is a good idea to develop a printed list, just in case your cell phone becomes damaged. Make sure you have current phone numbers for:

  • Extended family – Everyone will want to know you are ok after the storm, and you will want to do the same.
  • Employees and their families
  • Veterinarian – not just the office number but a cell phone number as well.
  • Neighbors – in rural areas neighbors helping neighbors are the first responders
  • Farm Service Agency Office – Damages should be reported within 15 days after the storm.
  • Insurance provider
  • Utility Company – Report downed power lines and power outages so your farm can be added to their response list.
  • County Extension Offices– Agricultural Extension agents can assist farm and livestock owners after the storm. Extension Agents are also part of the State Agriculture Response Team lead by the Florida Department of Agriculture, so they are your local contact in each county for assistance for farms and livestock owners after a disaster.

Loss of Power

At the very least, farmers in rural areas can expect power outages following a hurricane. In rural areas, power may not be restored for one to two weeks. This can cause some real problems for farmers.

  • Order fuel to top off farm fuel tanks for tractors and equipment. Fuel deliveries may be disrupted following the storm.
  • Fill farm and family vehicles with gas. Local gas stations may not be open for several days after the storm passes.
  • Purchase batteries for flashlights and lanterns. Have enough flashlights ready for each employee.
  • Stock up on feed for animals receiving supplemental feeds. Don’t forget the cats and dog food. Have enough hay, feed and health care supplies on hand for one to two weeks. Feed stores may not be open for business for a week or more after a storm.
  • Move animals to pastures with ponds so well filled water troughs are not the only source of water.
  • Dairy farms should have enough generator power so that cows can be milked each day.
  • For operations that rely on electric fencing, have a generator ready to keep the fence hot, or at least move animals to interior pastures so they have multiple fences to help keep them in.


Tropical storms and hurricanes can generate 3-15 inches of rain in just a few hours.

  • Move tractors, equipment, hay, or other stored items to highest ground.
  • Move animals out of low lying pastures, or at least tie the gates open so they can move to higher ground if need be.
  • Have enough hay on hand to feed for two weeks in case grass runs short from low areas being flooded.
  • Make sure drainage ditches are clean without blockage.

After the Storm:

  • Document any losses or damages. Save receipts for repairs and clean up services. These will be needed for insurance claims and federal disaster programs.
  • Be cautious of downed powerlines. Do not exit your vehicle if you are near a downed powerline. Contact your utility company or emergency personnel.

Report damage and losses to your Farm Service Agency. Depending on your request, reporting may be required as early as 72 hours after the storm to be eligible for disaster assistance. For more information on disaster assistance programs, visit:

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