Friday, May 16, 2014

Winston Hosts First-Ever Ag Recovery Meeting

Dozens of farmers and landowners on Thursday took part in a first-of-its-kind meeting following a disaster in Mississippi.

The Mississippi State University Extension Service organized the three-hour event at the request of Winston County Emergency Management Director Buddy King. The Agriculture Disaster Recovery Center, which was located at the Winston County Extension office, provided information stations for farmers to address specific recovery needs related to timber, cattle and poultry.

“We can’t change what the tornado did, but we can change how we respond,” King said. “We are not aware of any other time when all the agricultural interests have been brought together like this after a disaster.”

Farmers could meet with representatives from the Mississippi Board of Animal Health, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, Mississippi Forestry Commission, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, MSU Extension Service and Mississippi Farm Bureau.

Billy Lipsey of the FSA said he was pleased with the turnout and considered it a good foundation for recovery needs.

“We had already met with several of these farmers, but the information is so complex that it takes several encounters to wrap your brain around it. I think they have a better understanding of the application process now,” Lipsey said.

Some programs are available to assist with the expenses of burying livestock (except horses), to repair or replace fences and to replant pine and hardwood trees. Landowners should contact FSA for guidance.

FEMA division supervisor John Fort said the event was a good way to reach farmers, who rarely ask for help.

“Farmers are by nature very independent. We have to reach out to them because many will not come to us,” Fort said. “An initiative like this is very helpful and one of the best I’ve seen in the country.”

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Submitted by Linda Breazeale, PIO for Winston EMA