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Storm safety tips offered for farmers

The Maryland Department of Agriculture is urging the agricultural community to include livestock in their disaster preparedness plans as Hurricane Joaquin threatens the region. The agency also recommend farmers notify their crop insurance policy writers immediately if crops are lost as a result of the storm.

Farm Preparedness

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Anyone in the agricultural community who needs assistance with livestock, including horses, should contact the nearest emergency operation center.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has issued the following recommendations for farmers and livestock owners:

• Move all poultry and livestock to high ground and shelter animals in securely battened barns, houses, or tightly fenced areas.

• If you evacuate and take your horses with you, take all immunization and health records, your emergency kit and sufficient hay and water for a minimum of 48 hours. Call ahead, to make sure your emergency location is available.

• Cover and secure all water, food and medical supplies for poultry and livestock.

• Pump and store adequate supplies of drinking water in case of electrical failures.

• Top off all gasoline, propane and other fuel tanks and check operations of all portable generators.

• Remove or secure all loose objects that could be moved by high winds.

• Board all glass windows and other similar items that could be broken by high winds or from objects being blown against them.

• Ensure all animal holding areas are as clean and sanitary as possible.

• Have available portable radios, extra batteries, flashlights and candles.

• Follow instructions and advice given by emergency officials.

Notify Maryland Department of Agriculture through Maryland Emergency Management Agency if any agricultural assistance is needed before, during, or after the storm, including injured animals in need of veterinary assistance or dead animals that require disposal.

Crop Insurance

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Maryland Department of Agriculture also reminds farmers to stay in close contact with their crop insurance agents should Joaquin damage any unharvested corn or soybeans. In Maryland, approximately 56 percent of corn acres are not yet harvested and the soybean harvest has not begun, according to the most recent National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Progress Report.

According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture release, farmers are responsible for notifying their agents within 72 hours of discovering crop damage, continuing to care for the crop as normal and obtaining permission from the insurance company before destroying any crops. Farmers who are unable to take corn or soybean crops to harvest should contact their insurance companies before taking action.

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