If disaster funds become available, document damage now to help

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By Rick Greenwell

If you are a farmer or tree fruit producer and you sustained damage to your operation from the late January ice storm, there are some steps you can take that will greatly help if any agricultural disaster funds are made available in the future.

If your farm has sustained damage to fences, buildings and/or equipment, the first thing you should do is take photographs of the damage. Pictures will help you prove that a loss occurred even if you have to make immediate repairs. Also, document any purchased material and labor that was needed to repair the damaged items.

If you are a livestock producer that had abnormal losses due to the ice storm, you may be able to prove the loss with receipts acquired from the removal of the dead animal or with a signed statement from a non-relative witness. Report all livestock deaths to your local Farm Service Agency office.

Keeping good records can go a long way in qualifying for agriculture disaster funds. Even if producers don’t qualify for assistance, if their county has been declared a disaster area, they may be able to claim some of their expenses on the 2009 income tax return. In that case, all loss-related expenses must be documented.

Keep in mind, although these recommendations are designed to help, they will not guarantee your approval for assistance.

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