SD10 - Disaster Assistance to Virginia's Farmers

Executive Summary:
As requested by the 2000 Virginia General Assembly, the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services conducted a study of the disaster assistance needs of Virginia farmers and how the Commonwealth of Virginia, working in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, can better meet the needs of our state's farmers in coping with destructive natural disasters.

The purpose of this final report is to communicate the findings and recommendations of the Board based on input from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, members of the Board, other citizen farmers and representatives of farm groups and state and federal agencies that helped with the study.


1. Virginia farmers have experienced significant agricultural losses from natural disasters over the past twenty-four years, and drought has been a major cause of losses due to natural disasters.

2. Natural disaster creates critical challenges that must be dealt with through the cooperative and coordinated actions of the private sector and local, state and federal government.

3. Congress, through the creation of the National Drought Policy Commission, has focused attention ways our nation responds to natural disasters that impact agriculture.

4. With nearly all of the financial and risk management assistance received by farmers currently being provided through the federal government, the role of the Commonwealth in responding to natural disasters affecting agriculture has been primarily one of coordinating and facilitating federal assistance.

5. Many agencies are involved in the Commonwealth's response to the challenges and losses that natural disasters create for Virginia farmers. Ongoing efforts that focus on improving the coordination of these efforts, particularly when addressing the immediate needs that farmers face during droughts, should be continued.

6. Virginia currently has a law relating to the state's response to agricultural disasters that has not been funded.

7. Preparedness, including the strategies for reducing potential losses, is very important in dealing with natural disasters, such as drought, which impact the Commonwealth quite frequently.

8. The Commonwealth's overall emergency plan does not include a specific response plan for drought-related disasters and emergencies.


A state plan for responding to drought and its impact on the Commonwealth, including but not limited to agriculture, should be prepared and implemented under the leadership of the Department of Emergency Management with the participation of appropriate federal, state and local agencies and with the involvement of stakeholders. Once the plan is developed it should be communicated to all levels of government as well as the general public.

State efforts to promote increased natural disaster preparedness, particularly in the case of drought, should be continued. Such efforts should include, but not be limited to, providing information and tools to Virginia farmers about risk management and other strategies for reducing potential losses. State efforts to encourage the expansion of federal risk management programs for all Virginia farmers should be continued.