“What can we do to help?” Those are the first calls, texts and emails I get when a disaster hits farm country. It never surprises me to hear from Farm Bureau leaders across the country immediately looking for ways to help one another. Loading up the truck to help our neighbors is the natural, first response for farmers and ranchers. In fact, no sooner have the storm clouds cleared than our tires are already kicking up dust as we head down the road to see what we can do. The Farm Bureau family shows up for our neighbors near and far.
In communities across our nation, an already tough year has gotten harder as wildfires, hurricanes and derechos have swept through. These storms don’t care if you live in a city or out in the country, or if your farm is big or small. As we look for ways to help and send relief, state and county Farm Bureaus are go-to resources on and off the farm. The help the Farm Bureau family provides is always focused on what best serves the needs and communities impacted.
After the sudden and fierce derecho hit Iowa and parts of Illinois, both state Farm Bureaus donated to help provide immediate relief in local communities. With thousands in need of shelter and meals, the Farm Bureau family focused first on supporting the Red Cross as it quickly mobilized to meet those critical needs. In the days to follow, Iowa Farm Bureau has set up a Farming Community Disaster Exchange, an online message board where farmers can both offer and request help as they pick up the pieces from this storm.
Meanwhile, thunderstorms in California sparked hundreds of wildfires across the state, a scene that has become all too familiar to our West Coast family. Some residents barely escaped as the fires whipped through, destroying homes and livelihoods in just minutes. California Farm Bureau sprang into action again organizing farm resources and delivering community relief through their California Bountiful Foundation.
In the wake of Hurricane Laura, Louisiana Farm Bureau has set up a disaster relief fund to help farmers throughout the state as they recovered from the damage brought by winds and flooding. Long after a storm like this drops from the headlines, farmers and communities in Louisiana and across state lines in Texas and Arkansas will still be recovering and rebuilding. For our friends in Arkansas, Hurricane Laura came just a few months after devastating thunderstorms swept through the state. And with a few weeks to go yet in hurricane season, Texas Farm Bureau has provided resources for recovery and preparation across the state.
While we cannot control what storm clouds may gather over our homes and farms, we can continue to show up for our friends and neighbors. I have been reminded over and over again throughout this year how important community is, especially in these strange, socially distant times. Our Farm Bureau family has only gotten stronger. My prayer is that you will each know you are not alone, even in the darkest days. The storm clouds will break and together we will see brighter days.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.