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Food, farms, and fire

Throughout the region, agricultural communities are suffering from the effects of an historic, severe wildfire season. Here, our team member Maia Hardy, a farmer herself, shares views from various community members and offers a list of resources for the producers and farmworkers who are weathering the combined storms of climate change and inequity.

As nearly 5 million acres of land burn across our region, here at Ecotrust, we are reminded of the connections between nature and home, and the incredible importance of community. The effects of fires are being felt across Oregon, Washington, and California, during peak harvest season for crops such as grapes, tomatoes, winter squash, apples, pears, onions, lettuce, and broccoli—all of which are harvested day in and day out on farms up and down the West Coast. 

Ecotrust supports producers across our region who have been suffering from the effects of this wildfire season. Last week in Oregon, numerous farmers and ranchers were forced to evacuate, some faced with heartbreaking decisions that could upend their business completely. Our friends at Campfire Farms articulated the reality of transporting 95 hogs during a level three evacuation notice. Another farmer reported “leaving their animals with gates open”, hoping they could find safe ground should the fire sweep their farm. Many farmers in our network are waiting anxiously to return back to their farm to assess the damage. 

While the full scale of impacts from regional fires is yet to be seen, it’s important to remember that this latest disruption builds on the underlying uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. And, in the midst of market shifts, producers have already been navigating the effects of climate change season after season. Farming and ranching operations, representing decisions made years in advance, have been jeopardized by violent weather fluctuations, threatening not only that year’s harvest, but the viability of the entire business.

Now they will need to find the strength to rebuild after yet another crisis. 

Though we are coughing in a blanket of smoke, what is clear is that the community is rallying to support each other. People are opening their homes, farms, wallets, and schedules to support those in need. Herbalists and healers are home-delivering medicines, many farmers are foregoing CSA pick up and donating produce, restaurants are working around the clock to prepare meals for evacuees, a coalition of community-based organizations is distributing funds directly to impacted farmworkers and their families—who continually risk their well-being to put food on our tables. 

For our part, we are staying in touch and offering resources to our growing network of producers across the region who are committed to weathering the combined storms of climate change and inequity, and starting conversations about a just recovery that recognizes immediate needs around adaptation.

If you are a farmer, rancher, or food system advocate looking for resources or ways to support those who have been affected by wildfire, consider the following:

Livestock immediate needs

Facebook group that is coordinating livestock transportation and sheltering statewide (greater PNW).

Facebook group called Cowgirl 911 that’s offering help transporting animals and finding temporary homes (Oregon only)

ODA Livestock & Animal Tracking System

Wildfire and livestock safety

Fire Smoke & Livestock

Caring for Livestock During Disaster

Caring for Livestock After Disaster

Disaster Preparedness for Livestock

Food safety and wildfire

USDA FSIS Report on Fires & Food Safety

Farmworker safety

Western Center for Agricultural Health  & Safety (UC DAVIS)

Wildfire smoke and Washington workers (WA L&I)

Funding

USDA/ Farm Services Agency Disaster Assistance Programs

Relief efforts supporting farmworkers and small farms

Unete Immigrant Fire Relief Fund (OR)

Oregon Worker Relief Fund (OR)

PACSAC Small Farm Relief Fund (OR)

UFW Foundation Fund to Support Farmworkers (CA)