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Agency of Agriculture Issues Flood Precautions to Farmers and Pet Owners

Contact: Alison Kosakowski
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets
The National Weather Service indicates some areas of Vermont may experience flooding in the next 24-48 hours. With this information in mind, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) urges farmers and pet-owners to prepare now for flooding and potential power outages associated with the upcoming heavy rains. Please monitor local weather reports for more information about how the weather will impact your area.
Suggested preparations include the following...

Crop-related Activities:

• Harvest early vegetable crops that can be harvested, that are in flood plain fields, i.e. leafy greens, etc.
Hoop houses in the flood way should have the sides elevated to not restrict the flow of flood waters.
• For producers located in flood prone areas:  the edible portion of any crop that comes in contact with flood water is considered adulterated and may not be sold.

Power and Food/Water Activities

• Anticipate power outages. Check to see that your generator is in good working order. Consider purchasing a generator if you currently don’t have one.
• In the event you require a generator for emergency agricultural purposes (i.e. milking cows, cooling milk tanks, poultry house ventilation), contact your Town Officials. Make sure your house or barn has been wired such that a generator could be connected and that you have a transfer switch or other isolated means to connect to the generator.
• Purchase sufficient amounts of fuel to operate your generator and other equipment on the farm. (VAAFM does not have generators to loan.) • Charge batteries on cell phones and cameras.
• Pump and store adequate supplies of drinking water for humans and animals in the likelihood of power outages. VAAFM recommends a minimum 36-hour reserve.

Livestock Activities

• Check feed inventory and order extra if needed. Move feed, including round bales to higher ground, or to a more accessible place in case of flooding or transportation problems.
• Move livestock and poultry to higher ground out of the way of floodwaters.

Equipment Activities

• Remove hoop houses from low-lying areas that could be subject to high water.
• Move equipment to the highest, open ground possible away from floodwaters.

General Preparedness

• Make a list of important phone numbers ahead of time in order to make calls following a storm. Numbers to include are your town Emergency Management District, county extension agent, insurance agent, county Farm Service Agency and private veterinarian.
These were important phone numbers during Hurricane Irene:
• Call 911 if you need immediate assistance from the police, fire department or ambulance.
• Farmers in need of Emergency Agricultural Assistance call Town Officials.
• For non-emergency resource assistance farmers should call 211.
• To report farm losses call USDA Farm Service Agency 1-802-658-2803.
• To report damage to your home or barn call 1-800-621-FEMA.
• For information about road closures call 511.
• If you have any additional questions call the Vermont Agency of Agriculture at 1-802-828-5667.
Preparations pet-owning Vermonters should take to ensure their pets weather this event safely:

Before the storm impacts Vermont:

• Develop a contingency plan for your pet should you need to evacuate. This may involve identifying neighbors, veterinary clinics or other individuals who can house your pet or contacting town officials to determine whether co-sheltering of pets is a possibility for you.
• Take a digital photograph of your pet. Make sure that dogs are collared and that they have appropriate ID tags. Taking these steps in advance of the emergency will make it easier to locate pets that become lost during the storm.
• Make sure that you have proof of current rabies vaccination and that this information travels with your pet should you have to evacuate. Pets can exhibit behavior that is out of character when they are in stressful or unfamiliar situations. Proof of rabies vaccination will help to ensure that shelter staff and other caretakers are protected.
• Make sure that you have enough pet food, necessary medications and other supplies. The Agency of Agriculture recommends having at least a week’s worth of stock on hand in order to be covered during prolonged power outages.
• If you do not evacuate, bring your pet inside in advance of the storm or otherwise house the pet in a safe manner out of harm’s way.
• Locate crates, leashes and other means of restraint should it become necessary to relocate with your pet.

During the storm’s impact:

• If you evacuate, take your pet with you, but not all shelters that house people will have the capability to shelter pets in a co-located area. This limitation highlights the importance of pre-planning for your pet’s well-being should you anticipate having to leave your home during the storm.
• If you evacuate with your pet, use leashes or crates to restrain dogs and make sure that cats are confined to carriers.
• Evacuate with your pet’s food, water, medications, supplies (litter box, litter) and first aid kit. Do not assume that the temporary shelter will have essential supplies to meet your pets’ needs for any period of time.
• Be sure to travel with proof of your pet’s current rabies vaccination, veterinary contact information and other necessary medical documents.

After the storm:

• Your pet may be agitated or anxious for a period of time even after the storm dissipates. It is important to keep a close eye on him or her until that anxiety subsides so that your pet does not escape from your care. This may include ensuring that your pet is under supervision when outside and restraining your pet on a leash during walks and other outings.
• As soon as you are able and once you have attended to your needs and those of your family, get back into a routine with your pet. Household pets thrive on routines, and returning to a predictable schedule as soon as possible will lessen anxiety and other unwanted behavioral issues.  
About the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets: VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment. Visit us online at