When it rains, it pours. Cattle producer Allan Sharrock Jr. knows the truth behind this statement, as he experienced it first-hand the morning of March 26, when excessive rainfall caused streams and creeks to swell quickly without warning in Randolph County, Missouri.
Sharrock’s 160-acre livestock operation was in the heart of the flooding. When the water rose, seven calves were swept away.
“Losing this many calves on a small operation like mine really hurts the bottom line,” said Sharrock. “Cows help make my farm payment each year. This was a huge loss.”
Disaster Assistance Available
Luckily, USDA offers a network of programs to help agricultural producers rebound following natural disasters.
Sharrock reached out to his local service center to see if there were any tools to help. He worked closely with Henry Westhues and Keith Kroner, both with USDA’s Farm Service Agency, to file an application for the Livestock Indemnity Program, which provides benefits to livestock producers for deaths caused by adverse weather events.
This program compensated Sharrock for his cattle because of the flash flooding. He says the benefits he received go beyond just helping with his hay costs in the coming months.
“Without the funds, it would be hard to justify keeping the cows over the winter,” Sharrock said, who was raised on a cattle operation and now continues the family tradition.
USDA There to Help
Sharrock encourages fellow farmers, ranchers and foresters to visit their local USDA service center to learn about the many different programs available for farmers, ranging from conservation to risk management, and from disaster assistance to farm loans.
“Even if they don’t have something that fits with your own operation, you might learn something that could help your neighbor,” he said.
He has also worked with USDA to plan and implement a prescribed grazing system, which rotates cattle among pastures to prevent over-grazing. This has many benefits, including better forage for cattle and prevention of overgrazing and erosion. USDA helped him develop the plan as well as covered part of the cost for implementation.
“The improved pastures and grasses I planted really make a difference on gain with the calves,” he said.
USDA offers a variety of programs, including those to help producers recover when disaster strikes. Visit farmers.gov/recover to learn more.