Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan met Monday with U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-4), along with other with federal officials from Washington D.C. to discuss the best ways to bring emergency aid to farmers and agribusinesses hit by last week’s tornadoes.
This is the third round of meetings in as many days that McMillan has had with federal and state officials concerning storm damage and federal aid.
On Sunday, he met with USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (AL-6), U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-7), Paul Pinyan, executive director of the Alabama Farmers Federation, Dr. Billy Powell, executive vice-president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and several other federal, state and local officials. They toured devastated areas of Jefferson County.
On Saturday, McMillan and a number of state officials boarded a helicopter to survey storm damage across north Alabama.
Monday’s meetings with Aderholt also included FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino, EPA's Regional Administrator Phil May, Alabama EMA staff, and local officials in DeKalb County.
After meeting with officials and touring the damage, McMillan said his staff will be working round-the-clock to help storm victims take advantage of emergency funding that will be available in the days ahead.
“The devastation our state experienced last week as a result of the severe weather is like nothing many of us have ever seen,” McMillan said. “My thoughts and prayers are with those whose homes and property were damaged. Most of all, my heart goes out to those who lost loved ones. Our department is committed to do anything we can to help these storm victims rebuild and recover.”
Within hours after last week’s storms struck, department officials activated the Emergency Operations Center (ADAI EOC), located in the basement of the department’s headquarters in Montgomery. EOC staffers continue to receive calls about damage to farms, issue burial permits for poultry growers, and gather information regarding USDA Disaster Programs.
Preliminary damage reports indicate that poultry losses were in the millions with more than 200 poultry houses destroyed and over 514 poultry houses damaged. Thirty-eight cows and 19 horses have also been reported dead. Officials expect these numbers to rise as they learn more about the extent of the destruction.
Farmers and others affected by the storms should call 334-240-7278 for ADAI EOC assistance regarding damage at animal operations resulting in animal mortality.
Several divisions of the Department of Agriculture & Industries are involved in the recovery effort, not only from the agriculture perspective, but food safety as well. Food Safety inspectors have been working in the affected areas since last week. They continue to work with grocers and others whose stores were damaged to insure proper disposal of unsafe food products.