Resources for Farmers

With farmland commonly bordering streams, farmers are often affected by floods. They can be victims of flood damage but may also contribute to the problem. Here we offer information on Sustainable Farming near Streams, Preparing for Floods, and what to do After the Flood.

Sustainable Farming near Streams:

  • RiverSmart Communities has developed 4 fact sheets on "flood-smart" Best Management Practices for farmers that aim to manage riverside land in a way that protects rivers and their banks, and in turn protects farland from erosion:
    • Contour Buffer Strips: Strips of perennial vegetation alternating down the slope with wider cultivated strips significantly reduce erosion and thus protect rivers and their banks.
    • Stream Crossing Maintenance & Replacement: Well designed culverts and briges providing field and farm access over streams allow proper drainage and prevent floods caused by debris clogging a stream at the crossing.
    • Grazing: Acceptable practices for managing livestock along rivers prevent erosion and protect water quality.
    • Riparian Buffers:  Grow agriculturall productive buffers along stream banks. Also see this short video on Productive Riparian Buffers showing how to use plants on river banks to prevent erosion and provide food and medicine for humans and habitat for wildlife.
  • Flood: Farming and Erosion: a video segment adapted from NOVA explains the flooding problem and suggests possible solutions.

Preparing for Floods

  • The Center for Food Security & Public Health has a comprehensive page on Floods and your Farm, including a checkist of what to do before, during, and after a flood
  • Federal Crop Insurance Corporation:
    Portal to crop insurance site.
  • Massachusetts Dept of Agriculture's AEEP
    The Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program (AEEP) supports agricultural operations that are looking to install conservation practices that prevent direct impacts on water quality, ensure efficient use of water, as well as address impacts on air quality. Farmers selected to participate in the program are reimbursed up to $25,000 for the cost of materials and labor necessary for the installation of the approved practice. This could be a source of funding for creating buffers along streams.
  • Floods and Your Farm - Natural Disasters (pdf)
  • USGS Flood-Inundation Mapper website: a set of maps that shows where flooding may occur over a range of water levels in the community’s local stream or river. There are three interactive maps done in the Deerfield River watershed. Zoom in where you see a green triangle on the map.

After the Flood:

  • Farming after the flood (pdf): An Inside Look at Post-Flooding Management of Agricultural Soils.
  • Floods and farm animal health: Tips for farmers returning to their land after floods
  • Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program
    The EWP program responds to natural disasters which need not be federally declared emergencies. Provides financial and technical assistance to:
    • Remove debris from stream channels, road culverts, and bridges,
    • Reshape and protect eroded banks,
    • Correct damaged drainage facilities,
    • Establish cover on critically eroding lands,
    • Repair levees and structures, and
    • Repair conservation practices.
    • Requires that landowners work with a project sponsor such as a municipality, conservation district or other state or local agency. NRCS will contribute up to 75 percent of the cost. The remaining 25 percent must be contributed from local sources as cash or in-kind services.
  • USDA Farm Loan Programs – Emergency Farm Loans:
    • Restore or replace essential property
    • Pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year
    • Pay essential family living expenses
    • Reorganize the farming operation
    • Refinance certain debts, excluding real estate
  • Disaster Assistance Programs - Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, & Farm-raised Fish:
    Farm Bill (2014) provides emergency relief to producers of livestock, honey bees, and farm-raised fish. Covers losses from disasters, including floods and other conditions, not adequately covered by any other disaster program. Intended for livestock producers on non-federal lands.
  • Disaster Assistance Programs - Livestock Indemnity Program:
    Provides benefits to livestock producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather. LIP payments are equal to 75 percent of the market value of the applicable livestock on the day before the date of death of the livestock as determined by the Secretary. The LIP covers eligible livestock losses back to October 1, 2011.
  • Disaster Assistance Programs – Emergency Forest Restoration Program:
    Helps the owners of non-industrial private forests restore forest health damaged by natural disasters. Payments may be authorized to owners of private forests by the local FSA County Committee. Limit of $500,000 per person or entity per disaster applies.
  • Disaster Assistance Programs – Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program:
    Provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to a natural disaster, including floods.