Nearly two months after Hurricane Harvey ripped across south central and southeast Texas bringing widespread wind and flood damages to homes, businesses, farms and ranches, many Texans find themselves still cleaning up from the category 4 storm that left thousands homeless and wondering how they were going to rebuild.
Farmers and ranchers are dealing not only with damages to their homes, but also the infrastructure and inventory of their operations — from losing crops and livestock to mending or rebuilding fences, barns and replacing or repairing damaged equipment.
Since those hit hardest by Harvey are located within the 58-plus Texas counties designated by President Trump as a federal disaster area, Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) relief in the form of grants and loans have been made available to qualified individuals, businesses — including farms and ranchers — and local governments to aid in the recovery process.
In addition to this support, many others, both homeowners and business entities, are relying on individual insurance policies, ranging from wind and flood insurance, crop insurance programs and other sources of insurance held by affected parties.
But in spite of all the assistance available, those affected by a major disaster are quick to point out that in spite of help available for recovery, remains a gap remains in needed support to victims and the actual amount of sustained damage. In other words, insurance programs and grants, while extremely helpful, generally do not cover the total loss experienced by those hit the hardest. In addition, while loan programs help a great deal, those loans must be repaid, though interest rates are generally low.
OUTPOURING OF ASSISTANCE
In the case of Hurricane Harvey, an outpouring of assistance was demonstrated from not only churches and other volunteer groups, but state and federal agencies, including military units that provided manpower for search and rescue efforts, clean up, and in the case of livestock producers, distribution of hay donated by fellow farmers across several states to help feed stranded animals.
With the support of these volunteers, agencies and organizations, those in need often had access to potable water, prepared meals, and even some labor for cleanup following Harvey's landfall. But outside of the initial response from these dedicated groups, many business owners, including farmers and ranchers, have had to contribute the bulk for cleanup and rebuilding efforts above and beyond insurance and FEMA assistance, utilizing family, paid farm workers or even contractors to accomplish the tasks.
But for farmers and ranchers, the Texas Farm Bureau and its disaster relief foundation have also been providing assistance. As with other forms of assistance, farm owners are required to apply for this help. Texas Farm Bureau officials are warning that while cleaning up and rebuilding structures and inventory have been time consuming tasks, many producers may have forgotten to make application for the extra help. The good news is that, though time is limited, producers who suffered qualifying damages still have time to file an application.
These funds are being made available as a result of contributions received, mostly from other TFB members. The requirement for TFB Foundation assistance, farmers must meet the following criteria:
- Agriculture producers with agriculture related losses or expenses resulting from Hurricane Harvey’s winds and flooding may qualify for assistance from the Fund.
- Only losses in counties that have been declared disaster areas for this event by the federal government will be considered.
- A valid Texas Agricultural or Timber Registration number (Ag. sales tax exemption) for the person applying must be included in the application.
- Final reimbursement decision will be made by the Hurricane Harvey Relief Committee appointed by the President of the Texas Farm Bureau Agriculture Research and Education Foundation.
- 100 percent of the donations collected will be distributed to those who incurred losses related to Hurricane Harvey.
Contributions to the Foundation are tax deductible and are still needed. They can be made on the same link below that details how to apply for TFB Foundation assistance.
The deadline for filing an application is Dec.1, so now is the time to apply or donate. Applications can be made online at http://bit.ly/2wMo3ea
Texas Farm Bureau officials note 100 percent of the donations to this fund will be dispersed via an application process directly to farmers and ranchers located in counties that have been designated as disaster areas by the federal government for this event.