Earlier in March and April, a wildfire torched nearly 400,000 acres in Kansas and Oklahoma. Unfortunately, large fires are an all-too-common occurrence.
The National Interagency Fire Center reported 22 new large fires since March 25 in diverse geographies that include Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. All told, an average of 450,000 acres burn each year from Jan. 1 to April 1.
Use this interactive map to explore where the risk of wildfires is greatest, and where they are actually occurring.
If disaster has struck your farm or ranch, what can you do? In Kansas and Oklahoma, the agriculture community has rallied around those affected with a round of generous donations of money, feed, milk replacer, T-post and wire.
This generosity is always welcome but cannot always be expected. Fortunately, some government programs are also in place for these exact situations. The first step farmers and ranchers should make is to contact their local FSA office, according to Wayne Myers, farm program services director with K • Coe Isom.
“Many livestock producers in particular might not be continually going to their FSA office, so there’s a chance they may not be aware of some of the programs available to them,” he says.
These programs include the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), which covers livestock death from wildfires. That includes commercial production of cattle, sheep, goats, swine, poultry, dairy and more.
A second program, the Livestock Forage Assistance Program (LFP), covers grass loss from wildfires on any land managed by a federal agency. There’s also a “catchall” program called the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) for losses not covered by LIP or LFP. Farmers and ranchers can also tap into the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) or Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) for assistance in repairing livestock cross fencing, water facilities and dead tree removal.
If your farm or ranch has incurred damages from wildfire, document your losses and don’t delay in asking for assistance, Myers recommends.
“The biggest message to producers in affected areas is they should get to their local FSA and NRCS offices as soon as possible,” he says.
Some programs, such as LIP, require notifying the FSA within 30 days of the fire. Document losses with evidence such as photos, FEMA records, private insurance documents, production records and loan documents, Myers says.
Greg Akagi with Kansas Ag Network and Todd Domer with the Kansas Livestock Association were recently on AgriTalk to share their firsthand observations of the Oklahoma and Kansas wildfires. Here’s what they shared with Mike Adams about what they saw.