Small Farms, Local Food, and Wildfires

What do you need to know? 

Index:
  • How do I stay up to date on the location and status of wildfires?
  • What about air quality?
  • What resources are available for evacuation?
  • What do I need to know about wildfires and livestock safety?
  • What do I need to know about food safety and wildfires?
  • What about farmer’s markets?
  • What funding is available for farms impacted by the fires?
  • How can I help others who have been impacted?
  • What about ash, post fire clean up, and land management? 
  • Resources en Español
  • General Wildfire Resources

 

Introduction:

As the wildfires continue to spread across the West, we recognize that access to credible and timely information is essential. Our communities are now facing multiple crises at once. The nature of agricultural work makes it difficult for farms to stop working unless evacuation is required. During the fires themselves and post-fire during the recovery period farmworkers are exposed to smoke, ash, and chemical residue. Stress is high as farms may lose crops, their homes, and farm infrastructure that threatens the viability of their farm in the future. Faculty in the OSU Center for Small Farms and Community Food systems are working with community partners to provide current information that is relevant for small farms and local food systems. We will continue to update or add to these resources as they evolve. If you have resources or updates you would like to see listed here, please email Teagan Moran: Teagan.moran@oregonsate.edu

 

How do I stay up to date on the location and status of wildfires?

You can view the Wildfires Dashboard: Interactive map of fires, hotspots, & current conditions

Additionally, the State of Oregon put together a resource list which includes Fires & Hotspots Map, Air Quality Index info, experts to follow, and more: https://wildfire.oregon.gov

To sign up for alerts in you area see: Affected counties' news outlets and alert programs

 

What about air quality?

The multiple wildfires have raised valid concerns about the potential impact of smoke on workers. Oregon OSHA put together this webpage with tips, information, links, and contacts on a variety of topics related to wildfires.

If you are continuing to work or have employees working, please remember to wear a mask, specifically an N-95 mask or P100 mask for protection against air pollution. Farms should provide adequate protection for all workers, such as limiting the time spent working outside and providing adequate respiratory protective equipment. While you or your farm may not be in immediate danger from ongoing fires, you and your animals may be enduring hazardous air quality. You can keep up with the latest information on air quality from the Oregon DEQ's OregonAIR app, and learn more about health and air quality from the Oregon Health Authority. Please see livestock resources under question: What do I need to know about wildfires and livestock safety? for specifics related to livestock.

 

What resources are available for evacuation?

To be prepared, individuals should have a ‘go-pack’ bag packed in case you need to evacuate at a moment’s notice. It should include:

  • Important Documents

  • Medicines

  • Water and Snacks

  • Flashlight

  • Supplies for kids and pets

  • Pillows and blankets

  • See a full list: http://ready.gov/kit

Link below for a full evacuation checklist from the Forest Service USDA: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5305121.pdf

If farms are continuing operation they should have a Emergency Plan for Farmworkers - OSHA recommends the following for Emergency Preparedness for Farmworkers: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3870.pdf

For staying up to date on evacuation alerts see: Affected counties' news outlets and alert programs

If you must travel, keep aware of road closures from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

For immediate livestock and transportation needs follow your County’s evacuation information. In addition there are these grassroot efforts:

The Red Cross has a website where evacuees can let friends and family know they are safe. That saves authorities from checking houses where nobody is home.

 

What do I need to know about wildfires and livestock safety?
 
What do I need to know about food safety and wildfires?

 

What about farmer’s markets?

For employers trying to make a determination about attending a market, please see OSHA’s webpage regarding occupational safety and wildfire smoke.

Some farmers markets are being canceled due to poor air quality or proximity to fire threat. Farmers markets who are open may have fewer vendors as farms are impacted directly by the fires. Farms may have limited selection as they prioritize worker safety and minimize harvest.

As markets will vary depending on location, you can follow your local market on social media or email them directly. You can stay up to date on all of Oregon’s farmers market happenings by signing up for the Oregon Farmers Market Association’s newsletter and email list.

 

What funding is available for farms impacted by the fires?

We will continue to update this page as funding opportunities develop (State, Federal, and Local)

 

How can I help others who have been impacted?
What about ash, post fire cleanup, and land management? 

Protecting Yourself from Ash https://www3.epa.gov/airnow/smoke_fires/protect-yourself-from-ash-factsheet.pdf

It is important to continue to wear N95 rated masks even after the smoke lifts and air quality index improves.  Working outside and cleanup work can expose you to ash and other products of the fire that may irritate your eyes, nose, or skin and cause coughing and other health effects. Ash inhaled deeply into lungs may cause asthma attacks and make it difficult to breathe. Ash is made up of larger and tiny particles (dust, dirt, and soot). Ash deposited on surfaces both indoors and outdoors can be inhaled if it becomes airborne. Ash from burned structures is generally more hazardous than forest ash, we have both in this region.   

If possible, reduce outdoor physical activity during work. If you need to work outdoors, wear a mask that filters at least 95% of airborne particles (N95/KN95 masks). Cloth masks will not offer adequate protection.

A tight fit is important for protection from smoke and particulates.  Facial hair can interfere with effectiveness.  Even after the smoke lifts protection is required as ash and particulates will remain.  Look for masks that are certified by NIOSH to filter out at least 95% of airborne particles. 

Resources en Español:
General Fire Resources: