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What if your farm is in Sandy's path?

Jeff Caldwell 10/29/2012 @ 1:54pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

If your farm is in or near the path of Hurricane Sandy as it makes its way aground, it's likely to make life tough for the next few days, especially if you're not prepared.

The good news is that even if you just have a few hours before the storm brings heavy rain and high winds to your farm, you can still take a few steps to prevent major damage to your farm, according to a report from the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Disaster Education Network.

"Long-range preparations can include purchasing or making rental agreements for special equipment, making adjustments to property, and reviewing business arrangements. Short-range preparations should focus on immediate concerns such as turning off propane, moving livestock or equipment to safe places, or updating phone numbers for emergency assistance," according to a Monday report. "Equipment needs may include a generator, fuel, a hand fuel pump, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, a flashlight and batteries, NOAA weather radio and batteries, stored water and feed for humans and livestock, and a camera to document damage."

But, it's more than just getting together the right equipment and supplies. Also, be ready to make sure the land around you is ready for the torrents of water and high winds that are likely in an event like Hurricane Sandy, already dubbed the "Frankenstorm."

"Property preparations can include clearing debris from drainage ditches so water can run freely; checking power lines for clearance, and pruning or removing trees that could fall on lines; surveying buildings for limbs or trees close to buildings; and pounding in extra nails or tightening hurricane straps to prevent wind damage," according to the Cornell report. "Other precautions include clearing away all debris that could blow in high winds, securing farm signs, and photographing valuable items and storing the pictures off-site."

Record keeping is just as important. That's not just taking your files to a safe, secure place; it's just as important to document any damage that your farm incurs, and make sure that you can take care of your farm and family even if property damage is major.

"Photos of agricultural losses are very helpful to the USDA, especially with their livestock indemnity programs," the Cornell report shows. "Farmers and home owners alike should store all business records above flood level, which is generally at least 2 feet off the floor.

"A final long-range preventive measure is reviewing business affairs, including insurance policies, debt level, and finances. Farmers need to ensure they have adequate insurance coverage for homes, vehicles, farm buildings and structures, crops, and flood damage. Finally, farmers should develop an emergency plan for their families and their farm workers and should establish a meeting place where everyone can gather after a disaster. They also need to assign and prioritize preparation and recovery duties."

In addition to stockpiling supplies like fuel, a generator, first aid kits, flashlights, batteries, water, food and feed for livestock, Cornell specialists recommend the following preparations for short-range issues stemming from a storm like Hurricane Sandy:

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