Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2011 Vol. 58 No. 7

AGENCY PARTNERS: Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Texas AgriLife Extension Service
Fort Davis Livestock Supply Point. Photo courtesy of Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Texas AgriLife Extension Service has served Texans through community-based education for nearly 100 years. The Extension Service’s 900 professional educators work in offices serving all 254 counties in Texas. Extension agents are jointly employed by their County Judge and Commissioners Courts and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Approximately 90 AgriLife Extension specialists on nine incident resource teams author and publish e-publications addressing all-hazards preparedness, mitigation and recovery. These resources are available on the Texas Extension Disaster Education Network website.

In times of disaster, the agency provides leadership and personnel to serve as section chiefs whenever a livestock supply point is needed. The service has 46 responders on the State Animal Response Team who work with commodity organizations, the Texas Animal Health Commission and the Texas Department of Agriculture.

What are livestock supply points?
Following a disaster, many farmers and ranchers do not have the capability to maintain, feed and manage livestock. Livestock supply points service areas and provide immediate aid, such as feed and supplies, to those in need. The service has 46 responders on the State Animal Response Team who work with commodity organizations, the Texas Animal Health Commission and the Texas Department of Agriculture. The agency provides leadership and personnel to serve as points of contact whenever a livestock supply point is needed. Livestock supply points are operated with volunteers under their leadership.

How have these supply points assisted farmers and ranchers in recent events?
AgriLife Extension specialists working as teams of first responders after Hurricane Ike in 2008 included everyone from forage and soil scientists to economists. Flooding from Ike knocked down fences and destroyed hay supplies. Staging areas were established and served as collection and distribution points for hay, bagged feed, fresh water and other materials distributed to ranchers. Many of the materials and feed were donated by Texas agriculture producers and industry during the Ike response, which was dubbed “Operation No Fences.” During the “Operation No Fences,” we fed, watered and evacuated some 15,000 head of cattle.

Most recently, livestock supply points were established in response to the devastating Texas wildfires that began in mid-April. The primary need was for hay, because hay was in short supply due to the drought. During the peak of wildfire impact, livestock supply points were feeding up to 4,000 head per day, and in some of those cases a supply point has been the source of feed for six to eight weeks.

Describe the process for establishing a livestock supply point.
A county Emergency Operations Center receives calls from livestock producers who seek assistance for feed and water – and to provide health services for displaced or injured livestock. It must then be determined whether enough local resources are available, or whether assistance is needed from the state. During the recent fires, the livestock points were stood up by the local animal issues committees. But in the case of Hurricane Ike, more resources were needed so state assistance was requested.

When state assistance is required, the County Judge and county Emergency Management Center draft language to request state assistance on an ICS Form 213. That signed form is then sent back to the Disaster District Committee.

Who decides where and when to put livestock supply points in place?
When establishing a livestock supply point – either locally or through state assistance – the effort is led by Texas Animal Health Commission, AgriLife Extension and the Texas Department of Agriculture. The AgriLife Extension agent works with the County Judge and the animal issues committee to choose a central point of distribution. They will advertise where to send donations, as well as where producers can pick up the needed supplies.

During the recent wildfires, AgriLife Extension agents assisted in standing up eight livestock supply points. The first points were stood up after fires broke out the weekend of April 9-10. Four of the points were able to stand down by the end of April; two more stood down at the end of May; and Brewster and Palo Pinto points remain in place at this time.

What is the role of Texas AgriLife before and after disasters?
The Texas AgriLife Extension agents provide public information and education during all four stages of emergency management: preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery. This involves planning with AgriLife Extension personnel in collaboration with county, city departments and officials; disaster district committees led by the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Division of Emergency Management, State Operations Center, local universities, voluntary organizations active in disaster and non-profits.

AgriLife Extension agents work with individuals, families and businesses to help them better prepare for disasters, providing planning to develop emergency action plans and assemble supply kits. AgriLife Extension also assists older adults by conducting staff trainings for those that provide care for the elderly, special needs, securing assistive devices and medications and emergency supply kits.

AgriLife Extension utilizes AgriLife Communications to distribute materials written by specialists and to distribute news to the media and public in rural and urban areas impacted by disasters.

“After the immediate crisis is over, the long-term economic development of the natural resources and the economic fabric of the community is really where AgriLife Extension has a major responsibility,” according to Dr. Ed Smith, director of AgriLife Extension. “We work very hard in these areas.”

What other functions does the Extension Service have?
AgriLife Extension’s most significant contributions include public information and education targeting agricultural producers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers – and agricultural disaster assessment responsibilities supporting county government and U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, instruction for livestock producers is one of the agency’s key areas of expertise, and its information about early detection and rapid response to animal diseases is vital for emergency management.

 Find more information on the Texas AgriLife Extension Service website

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