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Agricultural Safety and Health Program

Ohio State University Extension

Extension Emergency Policy and Operations

Emergency Policy and Operations for Ohio State University Extension Personnel
State and County Responsibilities in the Event of National Security, Technological and Other Emergencies, and Natural Disasters

Policy

It is the policy of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to be prepared to respond swiftly in the event of national security, technological and other emergencies and natural disasters at the national, regional, state and county levels in order to provide support and comfort to the people of the United States. All USDA Agencies will support this and provide for a coordinated emergency response structure within USDA to handle all types of emergencies.

Definitions

USDA State Emergency Board Chairperson- The Farm Service Agency State Executive Director serves as the USDA State Emergency Board Chairperson, providing leadership for the coordination of all emergency programs at the State level.

USDA County Emergency Board- A group of USDA Agency emergency personnel at the county level prepared to respond to any emergency disaster in their county or designated area. This group should be aware of their individual Agency responsibilities. Additionally, the group addresses such issues as supporting USDA State Emergency Board activities, providing reports on the impact of disasters or emergencies on agriculture, and also participates in the preparation of Flash and Damage Assessment Reports.

USDA County Emergency Board Chairperson- The Farm Service Agency County Executive Director serves as the USDA County Emergency Board Chairperson, providing leadership for the coordination of all USDA emergency programs at the local level.

Emergency- A sudden, generally unexpected event which does or could do harm to people, the environment, resources, property, or institutions. Emergencies range from relatively local events to regional and national events and may be caused by natural or technological factors, national security-related events, or other emergencies.

Federal Response Plan- is based on the fundamental assumption that a significant disaster will overwhelm the capability of State and local governments to carry out the extensive emergency operations that will be necessary to save lives and protect property. Consequently, resources of Federal Departments and Agencies will be used to provide assistance to the State. Under the Federal response Plan, Federal Departments and Agencies having various authorities and resources have been assigned primary and support Agency responsibilities.

National Security Emergency- Any assurance, including natural disaster, military attack, technological, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or threatens the national security of the United States.

Natural Disaster- Any natural catastrophe, including hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mud slide, snowstorm, drought, or other catastrophe in any part of the United States which requires Federal emergency assistance to supplement State and local efforts to save lives, protect property, and alleviate damage, hardship, and suffering caused by the event.

Other Emergencies- Any events which are intentional acts of humans such as arson, civil disorder, crime, insurrection, riots, sabotage, terrorism, or any other incidents where Federal action is needed to minimize the effects of the event.

Radiological Emergency Response Program- The USDA program for radiological emergencies, which might involve nuclear power plants, transportation accidents, or other situations that present actual or potential hazards to public health and safety.

Technological Emergency- Any events which are primarily unintentional acts of humans such as radiological accidents, hazardous material accidents, biological emergencies, including the introduction and spread of animal and plant pests and diseases, explosions, fires, dam failures, pollution, or any other incidents where Federal action is needed to minimize the effects of the event

USDA State Emergency Boards
There is a USDA State Emergency Board in each State comprised of members from 10 USDA Agencies. The Farm Service Agency Sate Executive Director serves as the Chairperson, USDA State Emergency Board, in each State and is responsible for providing leadership and coordination for all USDA emergency programs at the State level. Guidance, direction, and assistance on emergency programs are provided by the USDA Emergency Coordinator. Generally the USDA State Emergency Board members are located within the State in which they serve. National security emergency program operations will be carried out from the designated State Emergency Operations Centers, if available, otherwise from the State Farm Service Agency offices.

The USDA State Emergency Board members represent those USDA Agencies having specific emergency preparedness responsibilities at the State level. Other Federal and State Government officials may be invited to attend meetings of the USDA State Emergency Board at the discretion of the Chairperson. The USDA Agencies providing primary and alternate members to the USDA State Emergency Boards are: Farm Service Agency, Rural Development Agency, Food and Nutrition Service, Food Safety Inspection Service, Forest Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Rural Electrification Administration, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Food and Consumer Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Ohio State University Extension.

National Security- The USDA State Emergency Board is responsible for providing leadership and coordination for all USDA Emergency programs at the State level. The Chairperson should also maintain close contact with the State Department of Agriculture as well as the State Office of Emergency Services.

In general, Chairpersons, USDA State Emergency Boards, have the following responsibilities:

  • Provide Leadership and coordination to USDA State and County Emergency Boards in pre-emergency preparations and post-attack operations of USDA national security emergency programs.
  • Prepare and execute national security programs not assigned to any one Agency.
  • Maintain liaison with State government officials on national security matters.
  • Distribute information pertaining to national security emergencies to other USDA State Emergency Board members.
  • Conduct meaningful USDA State Emergency Board Meetings.
  • Lead effective USDA State Emergency Board training.
  • Review annually and update, as required, any Agreements or Memorandums of Understanding between USDA and the aforementioned State Agencies.

In preparation for carrying out their responsibilities, the USDA State Emergency Boards, under the direction of the Chairpersons, will:

  • Establish a line of succession to the Chairperson from among its membership. A copy of the USDA State Emergency Board succession list will be provided to the USDA Emergency Coordinator.
  • Designate alternate members, should the primary members not be available. Lists of primary and alternate members will be provided to the USDA Emergency Coordinator. Note: Alternate members cannot be in the line of succession for the Chairperson.
  • Meet, as required, but at least quarterly. When meetings are scheduled, the Chairpersons should contact the USDA Emergency Coordinator for agenda items. Ample written notice should be given to all participants. The most expedient means available should be used to notify members of emergency meetings. Minutes of the USDA State Emergency Board meetings will be sent to the USDA State Emergency Coordinator.
  • Respond, as requested, to USDA EMERGENCY MEMORANDUMS, which provide guidance and information relating to emergencies of all types, emergency operating reports, publications and other guidance material.
  • Use the Farm Service Agency state and county offices to provide physical facilities, equipment, and support staff for USDA State and County Emergency Boards as required.
  • Be aware of alerting procedures which could differ, depending upon the situation. With the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture, the USDA State Emergency Boards could be alerted by the USDA Emergency Coordinator, or by individual USDA Agency representatives. Under certain conditions, alert messages should be passed via the Emergency Alert System. Alert messages should not be transmitted through the staff or family members. Alerts should be made directly to the USDA State Emergency Board members.
  • Be familiar with the current Inventory of Emergency Operating Records for USDA State and County Emergency Boards. Maintain emergency records at the designated locations ensuring that all records are current.

Natural Disasters- The Federal Response Plan is applicable to natural disasters, technological, or other significant events. Upon notification of an emergency, the Chairpersons, USDA State Emergency Boards, will contact the USDA State Emergency Board membership and the Chairpersons, USDA County Emergency Boards, directly impacted by the emergency and apprise them of the situation. All USDA State and County Emergency Board members will make every effort to assist the USDA representative at the Disaster Field Office and the Chairperson, USDA State Emergency Board, in providing the information requested. The USDA State Emergency Boards will provide direct support to the Disaster Field Office and respond to their requirements using USDA County Emergency Boards if necessary.

Each USDA State Emergency Board will provide a report to the Chairperson who, in turn, will prepare a report using USDA State and County Emergency Board inputs, and send the report to the USDA Emergency Coordination Center.

In the initial report, USDA State and County Emergency Board members will address the following questions.

  • What is the status of your USDA Agency employees? Are there any injuries or deaths? Have all been accounted for?
  • What is the status of your USDA employees' families?
  • Is your office space usable?
  • What is your Agency doing for the victims?
  • What is the impact on agriculture?
  • Is there any other pertinent information relating to your Agency's responsibilities?

IT SHOULD BE CLEAR TO AGENCY EMERGENCY PROGRAMS CONTACTS AND TO THE USDA STATE AND COUNTY EMERGENCY BOARD MEMBERS THAT COMPREHENSIVE AND TIMELY REPORTING IS ESSENTIAL TO KEEP THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE AND THE SENIOR STAFF APPRISED ON USDA’s RESPONSE TO THE VICTIMS AND THE IMPACT OF THE EMERGENCY ON AGRICULTURE.

Each USDA State Agency has specific agency responsibilities. Those of the Extension Service are listed below:

National Security- The Extension Service is represented on the USDA State Emergency Board by the State Director, Cooperative Extension Service or his/her designated representative. The primary responsibilities of the Extension Service member is to ensure that the county Extension Service members have information and education materials explaining:

  • How farmers, ranchers and other rural residents can protect themselves, their livestock and poultry from the effects of an attack;
  • Alternative crop production methods under emergency conditions;
  • The role of food and feed processing industries in processing, storage, and distribution of food and feed through marketing channels disrupted by the attack; and
  • Required government action needed to ensure continued supplies and equitable distribution of food and feed.
  • In consultation with the USDA State Emergency Board, the Extension Service member will:
  • Issue public announcements on the issuance and terms of the Defense Food Orders.
  • In cooperation with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service member, develop materials and disseminate information on the control and eradication of animal and plant disease.
  • Issue public announcements through the Emergency Alert System and other media.
  • Disseminate fire control information for the Forest Service and, in their absence, prepare fire control and timber resources reports.
  • Provide guidance on the most efficient procedures to assure continuity and restoration of an agricultural technical information system under post-attack conditions.
  • Provide liaison with other colleges and universities as well as with Federal, State and local governments involved in an emergency. Master copies of material, copy-ready for mass distribution to the media and the public will be kept available.

Natural Disasters- The Extension Service member on the USDA State Emergency Board will assist both USDA State and County Emergency Board members, ensuring that appropriate information and educational materials are available. Materials have been developed explaining:

  • How farmers, ranchers and other rural residents can protect themselves, their livestock and poultry from disasters of all kinds.
  • Alternative crop production methods.
  • The role of food and feed processing industries in processing, storage, and distribution of food and feed through marketing channels disrupted by the disaster.
  • Required government action needed to ensure continued supplies and equitable distribution of food and feed.

The Extension Service member will:

  • In cooperation with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection service member, develop materials and disseminate information on the control and eradication of animal and plant disease.
  • Issue public announcements through normal broadcasting and other media.
  • Disseminate fire control information for the Forest Service and, in their absence, prepare fire control and timber resource reports.
  • Provide guidance on the most effective procedures to assure continuity and restoration of an agricultural technical information system following a disaster.
  • Provide liaison between colleges and universities and ensure that master copies of materials, copy-ready for mass distribution to the media and the people, are available at the onset of a disaster.

Ohio State University Extension

At the state level- The responsibility for nuclear disasters rests with the Director, Associate Director Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Extension Safety Leader. The Extension Safety Leader or his designated representative will respond to notification of the State Emergency Operations Center and act in behalf of the Ohio State University Extension Director. He/She will be assisted by an individual from the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communications and Technology Section-Computer Operations Unit. Both the Extension Safety Leader and individual from the Computer Unit will have an alternate to act in case of incapacitation or non-availability. (See Appendix A)

Ohio State University Extension is prepared to take planned emergency action in its areas of responsibility. To do this, Extension has access to a statewide telephone and computer system (LAN) which will expedite communications between state, district and county offices.

It may be necessary to communicate with county agents and/or staff when the office is closed. Therefore, the designated individual from the Computer Operations Unit at the state level will maintain a list of home phone numbers and addresses of all county agents and staff.

The director of each Extension District is designated as liaison between the Ohio State University Extension Director’s office and county offices in the District. As liaison, the District Director will assist in any relocation of extension faculty and/or staff families from the affected area, redirect non-affected county faculty to affected counties to provide needed assistance, and perform other duties as determined by the Ohio State University Extension Director.

Depending upon the nature of the emergency or disaster, the Ohio State University Extension Director may elect to form a task force or special committee under the leadership of an associate director or state program leader to deal with the problem.

USDA County Emergency Boards

General. There is a USDA Emergency Board covering every county, parish, or similar political subdivision in the United States. The Farm Service Agency County Executive Director serves as the Chairperson, and is responsible for providing leadership and coordination for all USDA emergency programs at the county level. Guidance, direction, and assistance on emergency programs are provided by the USDA State Emergency Board. Generally, the USDA County Emergency Board members are located within the county in which they serve. National security emergency program operations will be carried out from the designated county Emergency Operations Center, if available, otherwise from the county Farm Service Agency offices.

The USDA County Emergency Board members represent those Agencies having specific emergency preparedness program responsibilities at the local level. Other local government officials may be invited to attend meetings of USDA County Emergency Board at the discretion of the Chairperson. The USDA Agencies providing primary and alternate members to the USDA County Emergency Boards are: Farm Service Agency, OSU Extension, Rural Development Agency, and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

National Security. In preparation for carrying out their responsibilities, the USDA County Emergency Boards, under direction of the Chairperson should:

  • Establish a line of succession to the Chairperson from among its membership. A copy of the succession lists will be sent to the Chairperson, USDA State Emergency Board.
  • Designate alternate members, should the primary members not be available. Note: A list of primary and alternate members will be provided to the Chairperson. Alternate members cannot serve in the line of succession for the Chairperson.
  • Meet, as required, but at least quarterly. When meetings are scheduled the Chairpersons should contact the Chairperson, USDA State Emergency Board, for agenda items. Ample written notice should be given to all participants. The most expedient means available should be used to notify members of meetings. Minutes of the USDA County Emergency Board meetings should be sent to the Chairperson, USDA State Emergency Board.
  • Note that the Farm Service Agency will provide physical facilities, equipment and support staff for the USDA County Emergency Board.
  • Be aware that alerting procedures could differ, depending upon the situation. USDA County Emergency Boards could receive alert messages from the USDA Emergency Coordinator, or individual USDA Agency representatives. Under certain conditions, alert messages could be passed via the Emergency Alert System. Alert messages should be passed directly to the Board member, not through a staff or family member.
  • Be familiar with the current Inventory of Emergency Operating Records for USDA State and County Emergency Boards and ensure that records are kept current.

In a national security emergency, in addition to normal Agency responsibilities, the primary USDA County Emergency Board membership responsibility is to provide the damage assessment information to the USDA State Emergency Board. All USDA County Emergency Board members are to collect damage information on the overall impact on agriculture, such as farm facilities, food, feed, seed, and fertilizer processing and storage facilities, crop and livestock losses, and soil contamination. This information should be relayed to the Chairperson, USDA County Emergency Board, or the Agency member on the USDA State Emergency Board, or directly to the national headquarters, in that order of preference.

The Chairperson, USDA County Emergency Boards, should relay damage reports to their Chairperson, USDA State Emergency Board, or to the national headquarters in that order of preference.

All Agency members will provide for and ensure that appropriate emergency records are maintained at the two assigned locations, the county Farm Service Agency Office and the County Emergency Operations Center. These records are to be sent to be reviewed annually by the members to ensure the records are current and reliable data will be available if needed.

Natural Disasters. In a natural disaster, technological or other emergency, all USDA County Emergency Board members will collect damage assessment information on the overall impact of the disaster on agriculture, such as farm facilities, processing plants, storage facilities, crops in the field, livestock lost or in danger, and soil contamination.

Additionally, the USDA County Emergency Boards may be called upon to provide general assessment information, if requested, on other disaster issues, e.g., availability of electric power and status of health care facilities.

The reporting of all information should be handled in the following manner:

Provide damage assessment data to the Chairperson, USDA County Emergency Board, for transmittal to the Chairperson, USDA State Emergency Board.

If unable to contact the Chairperson, USDA County Emergency Board, send the data to their Agency member at the USDA State Emergency Board.

If unable to contact your Agency member on the USDA State Emergency Board, send their report to the USDA Emergency Coordinator Center, at national headquarters.

If unable to contact the USDA Emergency Coordinator Center, send the report to your Agency at national headquarters, Attention: USDA Emergency Coordination Center.

If no communications are available, continue to collect data and hold the information until communications have been restored.

Each USDA county agency has specific agency responsibilities. OSU Extension responsibilities are listed below:

National Security. OSU Extension ANR County Agent will:

  • Provide information and educational materials to farmers, ranchers and other rural residents in order for farmers to protect themselves, their livestock and poultry, and other farms from the impact of an attack.
  • Participate in the preparation of damage assessment reports.
  • Report outbreaks of animal and plant diseases and disseminate information on the control and eradication of those diseases.
  • Provide information to be broadcast over the Emergency Alert System.

Natural Disasters. The OSU Extension member on the USDA County Emergency Board will assist in the preparation of the Flash Reports and damage assessment reports. In the event of a disaster, the OSU Extension member will:

  • Provide information and educational materials to farmers, ranchers and other rural residents in order for farmers to protect themselves, their livestock and poultry, and other farm facilities and equipment from possible destruction or damage from a disaster.
  • Participate in USDA County Emergency Board meetings and provide information to the Flash Report and damage assessment report.
  • Report outbreaks of animal and plant diseases and disseminate information on the control and eradication of those diseases.
  • Provide, if requested, information to be broadcast over radio and TV stations to assist local farmers and other residents in coping with the disaster and its aftermath.

As a USDA agency at the county level much of OSU Extension’s activity in the event of a nuclear or natural disaster involves the concerns of agriculture and farm facilities. Therefore, the Extension Agent with primary responsibility for agriculture will take the leadership for disasters at the county level including membership on the County Emergency Board or Operations Center. The Extension Agent with Family and Consumer Sciences responsibilities will be the alternate to act in case the County Agent with agricultural responsibilities is incapacitated or not available. The statewide telephone and computer system (LAN) may not be available to an agent stationed at the County Emergency Board or Operations Center; therefore, another county agent or staff member should be available to retrieve information from the LAN system, be in contact with the agent at the County Emergency Board or Operations Center, and respond to questions or concerns. If deemed necessary, the County Extension Agent should contact the District Director immediately and inform him/her of the situation and request needed assistance from other faculty members, including specialists. The Extension Agent with primary responsibility for agriculture should familiarize all county agents with Extension’s role and inform the public of these responsibilities.

To be prepared for nuclear disasters, the designated County Extension Agents and/or their alternates are expected to participate in any state or county sponsored drills. Such drills may occur either during or after normal work hours. Agents are expected to log on to the LAN computer system, review disaster messages as they are received and respond to any questions from the State Emergency Operations Center.

Each Extension office should have an “emergency and disaster” file available for all staff including selected secretaries. Minimum information in this file should include:

  • Disaster Handbook (red, three-ring binder). This is your most valuable resource, before or after disaster.
  • Radiological Emergency Information for Agricultural Producers, Processors and Distributors (Prepared by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency).
  • Preparing for Emergencies: a Checklist for People with Mobility Problems (Federal Emergency Management Agency/American Red Cross).
  • Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit (Federal Emergency Management Agency/American Red Cross).
  • Radiological Information for Farmers, Food Processors, and Distributors (USDA Food Safety Inspection Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency).
  • Emergency Preparedness Materials Catalog (Federal Emergency Management/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/American Red Cross).
  • Where to have your water tested: Water testing Laboratories- Approved Ohio Department of Health/Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (AEX-315, OSU Extension).
  • Emergency Disinfection of Water Supplies (AEX-317, OSU Extension).
  • Shock Chlorination of Wells and Springs (AEX-318, OSU Extension).
  • Emergency Policy and Operations for Ohio State University Extension Personnel (This document).
  • Other materials as received from the Extension Safety Leader or his/her designated representative.

The Extension Safety Leader and his/her designated representative will maintain a duplicate file of all materials which should be in county files. A listing is available at any time upon request.

County and District staff should keep the emergency preparedness file up-to-date in a central place available to all members.

Immediately following any disaster, all faculty and staff members should make sure members of their families are safe.

As soon as possible after the disaster strikes, the County Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, and EFNEP Educators (working through the Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences) should assist the Red Cross, Salvation Army, welfare and health agencies and/or other appropriate groups.

If considerable help is needed to assist in the preparation and dissemination of needed information, it may be necessary to request additional county, district and state faculty assistance.

Extension agents should encourage and assist organizations which are not normally “disaster” oriented to give special services as needed. Organizations may include youth groups, Grange, Farm Bureau, Family Community Education Groups, and fraternal or other civic organizations.

Extensions agents should counsel families and assist them in obtaining the needed services from the most desirable sources including all possible services from other USDA and local agencies.

Extension agents should provide information in the areas of home economics, agricultural production and marketing, and community and natural resource development to help re-establish family and farm enterprises and the community. This service is usually performed as soon as possible following the disaster when the initial shock is over. District and state specialists may be available to provide assistance. Members of the community should be informed that this service is available from the Ohio State University Extension.

APPENDIX A

Ohio State University Extension Representatives
PRIMARY

Dee Jepsen
Program Manager
OSU Extension
Office Address 262b Ag Eng Bldg.
590 Woody Hayes Drive
Columbus, OH 43210-1057
Office Phone (614) 292-6008

ALTERNATE
Vacant


COMPUTER ASSISTANT PRIMARY
Vacant


COMPUTER ASSISTANT ALTERNATE
Vacant