Farm Disasters

Farm Disasters are Life-Changing Events

On a farm, a disaster is a life-changing event. Depending on the type and extent of a disaster, farmers may lose their crops, their livestock, their homes, their livelihood. In disasters that stretch over a long period of time, like droughts, financial security can become a major challenge. And, like other disaster survivors, farmers can suffer from significant post-disaster personal and family stress.

Learn about farmers’ lives and the challenge disasters bring to them. You will more effectively respond to farmers now and in the future if you learn more about your rural neighbors.

Although every disaster is a little different, in planning a response, an overview of the implications of the major kinds of farm disasters facing American farmers today is provided below. Click below on each headline to learn more about these common farm disasters.


Drought — a chronic shortage of water or rain, sometimes lasting for years — is a unique type of agricultural disaster.


Floods typically occur when such an excess of precipitation falls that bodies of water (such as streams, lakes, and rivers) rise and overflow their banks. Flooding disasters can also be caused by ground water that rises over a long period of time.


A tornado — generally preceded by a violent thunderstorm, high winds, and possibly hail — will usually move onto a farm with great speed with winds ranging to 300 miles per hour. A tornado can destroy farm operations.

Winter storms

Winter winds, with low temperatures, snow and ice and high winds, pose a threat not only to property, but also to life itself. If not protected, people and livestock cannot withstand the conditions of a winter storm.


Recognition of the impact of technological disasters is emerging in the agricultural community. Examples of technological disasters include well and drinking supply pollution from toxins, nuclear fall-out and pesticide spills. Many disaster response organizations have specialists who provide special resources for this kind of disasters.