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"The greatest needs in times of peril are the needs for food, water and shelter. Farmers, cooperatives, rural communities and community-based organizations usually are and, thus, should be recognized as the first responders to meet these needs."

Equipping Farmers as First Responders

Grant proposals for the development and implementation of disaster planning

Allocating resources to help farmers survive and rebound from economic, environmental, and natural disasters

Networking events for family farmers and landowners 

Public awareness campaigns to promote the use of farmers, cooperatives, and community-based organizations in emergency management & disaster planning

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Family farmers and rural communities tend to suffer disproportionately in times of disaster and economic hardship. Furthermore, rural communities have less developed infrastructure, greater distances between people & services and fewer resources. These communities suffer more because the impact of the blow (disaster, economy, etc.) hurts twice as much, limited resources can't support the help/assistance needed and whatever support assistance that is available takes twice as long to get there. However, they (family farmers and rural communities) are usually the ones positioned to assist urban communities and populations severely affected by disasters and economic hardships. The greatest needs in times of peril are the needs for food, water and shelter. Farmers, cooperatives, rural communities and community-based organizations usually are and, thus, should be recognized as the first responders to meet these needs. Farmers are to produce and distribute fresh fruits & vegetables through local cooperatives, cooperative facilities serve as staging areas and storage for relief items sent from across the country, community-based organizations have the capacity to organize, coordinate and monitor these efforts via established partnerships and rural communities often serve as refuge for evacuees during various disasters.

 

Resources allocated for this type of effort would directly assist farmers to survive and rebound from economic, environmental and natural disasters as well as allow them to serve as first responders to meet the food needs of people during crises. These resources would also strengthen cooperatives and rural communities as well as build the capacity of those community-based organizations serving them. In short, farmers, cooperatives, rural communities and community-based organizations that serve them play a vital role in protecting our local food systems and are first responders during natural disasters, recessions, depressions, homeland security threats, climate change, food shortages, energy crisis and a host of other threats to our survival and sustainability. 

 

Farmers as first responders thus, we offer the following recommendations as possible solutions: 

  • Better policies that focus on rural infrastructure and disaster pre such as a local farmer, cooperatives, and CBOS/regional systems should be identified, listed, and used as first responders in their respective communities.

  • Local and regional distribution systems should be developed and/or supported via local, state, and/or government funding.

  • Direct disaster payments to farmers and fishermen.

  • Cost-share programs to rebuild farm structures and infrastructure (i.e. barns, boats, docks, value-added facilities, equipment, materials, etc.)

  • Local disaster plans/models should be required for all counties/communities.

  • Greater CBO and minority-serving land grant university support to include disaster training as part of programs. 

 

In conclusion, if we are to prosper as a country and respond effectively and equitably to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and economic turmoil, we have to industriously utilize and equip farmers as first responders.

Feed a Family Battling Food Insecurity During the Global Pandemic